How the Hippies Saved Physics E-book Evaluation

[ReviewAZON name=”How the Hippies Saved Physics” id=”2″ display=”inlinepost” asin=”0393076369″ trackingid=”antoniocangia-20″ country=”us” width=”200px” float=”left” imagetop=”10px”]How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
David Kaiser
W.W. Norton and Firm, New York, 2011
372 pages

How the Hippies Saved Physics is a historical past ebook concerning the origins of quantum info science, quantum computing, and quantum cryptography, at the moment scorching, closely funded fields in physics. Written by MIT science historian David Kaiser, it tells the story of the Basic Fysiks Group, a loose-knit 1970’s period group of largely out of labor physicists within the San Francisco Bay Space who explored the foundations of quantum mechanics, parapsychology, LSD, and different unique subjects.

The Basic Fysiks Group included many colourful characters reminiscent of Fritjof Capra, writer of the bestselling The Tao of Physics and a complete collection of inexperienced/ecological/New Age books for the reason that Nineteen Seventies, Fred Alan Wolf, Nick Herbert, and Jack Sarfatti (to call just a few). Members of the group secured backing from such inconceivable sources as New Age human potential guru Werner Erhard and the Central Intelligence Company (CIA). In addition they sponsored succesful workshops on their model of quantum mechanics on the Esalen Institute in Huge Sur, California full with bare coed scorching tubbing.

From a scientific perspective, the best accomplishments of the Basic Fysiks Group, a minimum of up to now, are most likely John Clauser’s pioneering experiment demonstrating quantum entanglement and Nick Herbert’s articles proposing strategies to transmit info quicker than mild utilizing quantum entanglement. The so-called “no cloning” theorem and another theorems of quantum info science have been developed to refute Herbert’s intelligent proposals. Hippies discusses each of those developments, devoting a complete chapter “From FLASH to Quantum Encryption” to Herbert’s proposals and the event of the no-cloning theorem and quantum encryption in response to his proposals.

In quantum mechanics, two or extra particles reminiscent of photons of sunshine may be in an entangled state through which measuring a property of 1 particle such because the polarization of sunshine instantaneously impacts the measurement of a property of one other particle within the entangled state irrespective of how far-off that particle is. Quantum encryption is a manner of sending info utilizing an entangled quantum state in order that any try to intercept the knowledge is each detected and prevented: excellent knowledge safety — the Holy Grail of spies, banks, and gangsters.

Hippies is well-written, detailed, and seems nicely researched. I loved Kaiser’s writing type, however some could discover the ebook a bit scholarly and pedantic at occasions. Whereas Kaiser does give a nicely written overview of the physics and arithmetic of Bell’s Theorem and quantum entanglement, key components of the story, this ebook just isn’t the place to discover a detailed dialogue of the science or arithmetic of those mysterious subjects. Hippies is essentially a critical historical past ebook about folks, personalities, establishments, and society.

The title is deliberately over-the-top, a play on Thomas Cahill’s bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization. The quasi-psychedelic cowl illustration, which incorporates a bare man standing on his head together with his again to the digicam and an atomic nucleus overlayed to maintain the image G or a minimum of PG rated, has most likely postpone various would-be readers. Regardless of the duvet and title, the ebook is definitely an in depth scholarly historical past of the Basic Fysiks Group which manages to mix a sympathetic angle towards its topics with a sure evident skepticism towards a few of their beliefs and claims, notably relating to extra-sensory notion (ESP) and parapsychology.

A serious theme of the ebook is the close to complete eclipse of philosophy and foundational points in physics, particularly in america, following World Battle II. The title of the primary chapter is the notorious phrase “Shut Up and Calculate,” allegedly addressed to younger physicists by their professors. Kaiser discusses how philosophical discussions of the which means and foundations of quantum mechanics (and different components of physics as nicely) have been systematically eradicated from textbooks and coaching in physics in america through the Nineteen Fifties. Many journals had both express or implicit insurance policies of rejecting any papers discussing these points. Thus, many key papers by Bell and members of the Basic Fysiks Group have been initially revealed in obscure journals.

The members of the Basic Fysiks Group, however, wished to know the which means and conceptual foundation of quantum mechanics. The identical seems to have been true of the late John Bell, the writer of Bell’s Theorem. If quantum encryption and quantum computing show sensible, then the actual world penalties of those philosophical questionings could show nice certainly. For probably the most half, nonetheless, the precise arithmetic used to precise these ideas is first and second 12 months faculty algebra and calculus, nothing just like the unique arithmetic of string concept or quantum area concept (QFT).

If the ebook has a significant weak point, it’s that the ebook could be very cautious in addressing parapsychology, the occult, the involvement of the CIA and different intelligence businesses, and the various weird components of the story, all of which overlap strongly. Kaiser seems to stay fastidiously to what he can clearly doc and to keep away from taking a particular place, not to mention speculating, on the various controversial points that come up throughout his ebook. His focus is the eventual impression on mainstream, public, unclassifed physics analysis as we speak. It’s maybe price noting that the Nationwide Safety Company (NSA) and different “members of the intelligence neighborhood” seem like the principal sources of the downpour of funding for quantum info sciences, quantum encryption, and quantum computing, an sum of money far in extra of the few hundreds of thousands garnered by the analysis within the 1970’s that Kaiser discusses.

Readers within the foundations of quantum mechanics and associated subjects will most likely discover How the Hippies Saved Physics an attention-grabbing and engaging ebook. Readers who’ve been entranced by the 2004 film What the BLEEP Do We Know? (Fred Alan Wolf seems prominently in BLEEP) or comparable New Age choices will most likely profit from studying this ebook. The ebook is concurrently an inspiring argument for restoring philosophy and conceptual evaluation in physics in addition to a cautionary story concerning the risks of getting misplaced in metaphysical pursuits.

Further Sources

The Quantum Mystics


Quantum Catfight

David Kaiser Video: How the Hippies Saved Physics

David Kaiser Video II: How the Hippies Saved Physics

David Kaiser Interview on The House Present: How the Hippies Saved Physics

David Kaiser on the Chilly Battle Physics Bubble (Talking on the Perimeter Institute)

© 2012 John F. McGowan

In regards to the Creator

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves issues utilizing arithmetic and mathematical software program, together with creating video compression and speech recognition applied sciences. He has intensive expertise creating software program in C, C++, Visible Fundamental, Mathematica, MATLAB, and plenty of different programming languages. He’s most likely greatest recognized for his AVI Overview, an Web FAQ (Ceaselessly Requested Questions) on the Microsoft AVI (Audio Video Interleave) file format. He has labored as a contractor at NASA Ames Analysis Heart concerned within the analysis and improvement of picture and video processing algorithms and know-how. He has revealed articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the invention of methane on Mars), and low cost entry to area. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Expertise (Caltech). He may be reached at [email protected].