Who's Afraid of Schrödinger's Cat? An A-to-Z Guide to All the New Science Ideas You Need to Keep Up with the New Thinking

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9780688161071: Who's Afraid of Schrödinger's Cat? An A-to-Z Guide to All the New Science Ideas You Need to Keep Up with the New Thinking

Quantum theorist Erwin Schrvdinger invented his now-famous cat to illustrate the apparently impossible conundrums associated with quantum physics. The cat lives in an opaque box with a fiendish device that randomly feeds it either food, allowing it to live, or poison, which kills it. But in the quantum world, all possibilities coexist and have a reality of their own, and they ensure that the cat is both alive and dead, simultaneously.

Who's Afraid of Schrvdinger's Cat? is a clear, concise explanation of the new sciences of quantum mechanics, chaos and complexity theory, relativity, new theories of mind, and the new cosmology. It studies worlds beyond the realm of common sense, and the new kinds of thinking that we need to understand ourselves, our minds, and our human place in the larger scheme of things.

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Review:

Quantum physics does not sit lightly on the brain. In fact, Schrödinger's cat, a feline in an opaque box who's paradoxically both dead and alive, was created by Erwin Schrödinger to help people conceptualize the quantum possibilities of both/and, instead of the more common either/or. Still, the new science doesn't find an easy mental perch. Ergo, the need for, and elegant achievement of, this book.

The main text is made up of short essays on specific ideas, forming an encyclopedia of the new sciences, but the book starts off with four clear and engaging overview essays. "Kinds of Being" introduces ancient, classical, and quantum physics, followed by "Order in Science and Thought," which surveys ideas of complexity, such as chaos, evolution, and games theory. "The New Sciences of the Mind" is next, attempting to answer questions like "What is a mind? What is awareness? Must a mind, to be a mind, be conscious?" and "The Cosmic Canopy" is the last of the introductory essays, dealing with high-energy phenomena in cosmology and particle physics. Once you've chewed these chapters over, you're ready to access the nearly 200 specific questions and concepts in the A-to-Z, which makes up the bulk of the book, starting with Absolute Zero and wending its way through Entropy, Lamarckism, and Planck's Constant, Quantum Gravity, Reductionism, and Supersymmetry to Wormholes and Wrinkles in the Microwave.

The book is excellently cross-referenced, and the advanced ideas of science are discussed intelligently and explained concisely, cutting through the jargon to bring the fascination of the concepts into lucid focus. --Stephanie Gold

From the Back Cover:

From the Introduction: "Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, was often asked to speak to lay audiences about the new science. He would begin by telling a story in which a young rabbinical student goes to three lectures by a very famous rabbi. Afterward he describes these to his friends. The first lecture, says the student, was very good - he understood everything. The second was much better - he did not understand it, but the rabbi understood everything. The third lecture was, however, the best of all, very subtle and deep - it was so good that even the rabbi did not understand it.

"Bohr, like the rabbi of the story, never understood the science he had helped to create. Nor did Albert Einstein, who didn't even like quantum physics. Even today many scientists have trouble coming to terms with the central concepts of the new physics .... Laymen can be forgiven for being largely unaware of how profoundly different the science of the twentieth century really is from past science, and how this difference may bear on their own lives and thinking.

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