Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time -- and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything

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9781504641944: Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time -- and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything

[Read by William Hughes]

A mind-bending voyage to the frontier of modern physics.

What is space? It isn't a question that most of us normally stop to ask. Space is the venue of physics; it's where things exist, where they move and take shape. Yet over the past few decades, physicists have discovered a phenomenon that operates outside the confines of space and time. The phenomenon -- the ability of one particle to affect another instantly across the vastness of space -- appears to be almost magical. Einstein grappled with this oddity and couldn't quite resolve it, describing it as ''spooky action at a distance.'' But this strange occurrence has direct connections to black holes, particle collisions, and even the workings of gravity. If space isn't what we thought it was, then what is it?

In Spooky Action at a Distance, George Musser sets out to answer that question, offering a provocative exploration of nonlocality and a celebration of the scientists who are trying to understand it. Musser guides us on an epic journey of scientific discovery into the lives of experimental physicists observing particles acting in tandem, astronomers discovering galaxies that look statistically identical, and cosmologists hoping to unravel the paradoxes surrounding the big bang. Their conclusions challenge our understanding not only of space and time but of the origins of the universe -- and their insights are spurring profound technological innovation and suggesting a new grand unified theory of physics.

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About the Author:

George Musser is a staff editor and writer for Scientific American. He did his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Brown University and his graduate studies in planetary science at Cornell University, where he was a National Science Foundation graduate fellow. He served as editor of Mercury magazine and of the Universe in the Classroom tutorial series at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, a science and science-education nonprofit based in San Francisco. He edited articles for such anthologies as The Best American Science Writing and The Best American Science & Nature Writing.

Review:

''An endlessly surprising foray into the current mother of physics' many knotty mysteries, the solving of which may unveil the weirdness of quantum particles, black holes, and the essential unity of nature.'' --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

''Accessible and imaginative . . . Clarity and humor illuminate Musser's writing, and he adroitly captures the excitement and frustration involved in investigating the mysteries of our universe.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Can two subatomic particles on opposite sides of the universe truly be instantaneously connected? Or is any theory that predicts such a connection necessarily flawed or incomplete? Are the results of experiments that demonstrate such a connection being misinterpreted? Such questions challenge our most basic concepts of spatial distance and time. In Spooky Action At A Distance, George Musser beautifully navigates through the history, science, and philosophy of these mind-boggling conundrums, and expounds cutting edge thinking.'' --Mario Livio, astrophysicist and bestselling author of Brilliant Blunders and The Golden Ratio

''George Musser gives us a fascinating tour of the latest attempts on the frontiers of physics to answer one of the oldest questions in science: What is space? And the wonderful lesson is that the deeper we look into the question, the more captivating it becomes.'' --Lee Smolin, founding faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and author of The Trouble with Physics

''With clever metaphors and dry humor, acclaimed science communicator George Musser is the perfect tour guide on this wild ride through wormholes and emergent dimensions to the cutting edge of physics. This quest to understand the ultimate nature of space may forever transform how you think about the very fabric of reality.'' --Max Tegmark, physicist and author of Our Mathematical Universe

''Modern physics is in the process of dismantling the very space all around us, and the universe will never be the same. In this engaging book, George Musser leads us through the thickets of science and philosophy and takes us to the brink of a very different view of the world.'' --Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe

''Locality has been a fruitful and reliable principle, guiding us to the triumphs of twentieth-century physics. Yet the consequences of local laws in quantum theory can seem 'spooky' and nonlocal-and some theorists are questioning locality itself. Spooky Action at a Distance is a lively introduction to these fascinating paradoxes and speculations.'' --Frank Wilczek, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and author of The Lightness of Being and A Beautiful Question

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