Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World

(Author) (Foreword by)

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$26.00  $24.18
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
5.8 X 9.1 X 1.2 inches | 1.15 pounds
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About the Author

David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of several books, including How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival, and is coeditor of Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture, also published by the University of Chicago Press. His work has appeared in the New York Times and New Yorker and he is a frequent guest on NPR and in PBS NOVA documentaries.


"Friendships and rivalries, the demands of war, the limits of technology . . . these are among the rich universe of forces that conflict and conspire to bring us what we usually gloss over as the inevitable march of scientific progress. Kaiser's book provides a wonderful glimpse behind the curtain into the messier--but far more human--truth of the matter. Beautifully written and extraordinarily well researched, the book makes a profound point about the sociopolitical nature of science that all readers--from physics buffs and historians to students and laypeople--need to hear."--Amanda Gefter, author of Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn
"Kaiser is a master writer, and this is some of his finest work. An extraordinary combination of technical science, rich history, and telling anecdote, Quantum Legacies is cutting-edge scholarship rendered in a style equal to any popular science writing. When a non-academic asks me 'what is the history of science?' I will give them this book."--Matthew Stanley, author of Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I
"Kaiser--writing in prose that sometimes soars, often intrigues, and always informs--gives us here a remarkable set of vignettes about major developments in physics and cosmology of the past century. His vignettes beautifully integrate science with human history and with insightful descriptions of outsized personalities. This book will be enjoyable and enlightening for a diverse readership: from complete novices in science, to students of science and history, and to professional scientists and historians."--Kip Thorne, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, California Institute of Technology, and 2017 Nobel Laureate in Physics
"Physicists are people! They have insecurities, love lives, monetary concerns, and political opinions, all while striving to uncover the fundamental workings of reality. Kaiser spins engaging tales that both explain fascinating aspects of physics in a lucid way and illuminate the human beings who worked to discover them."--Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden
"Explaining physics is easier than explaining physicists. In Quantum Legacies, Kaiser succeeds at both."--George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral
"What is extraordinary about Kaiser as a writer (and what makes his essays so much fun to read) is not only his ability to animate the range of personalities in these pages, from Einstein to Heisenberg, Schrödinger to Hawking, but also the way he brings the same humanizing impulse to their mind-bending ideas. His talent for uncovering connections between otherworldly ideas and the social and political worlds in which they take shape makes him a simply spellbinding guide to the mysteries of the universe."--Nell Freudenberger, author of Lost and Wanted
"Have you ever wondered why Schrödinger chose such a morbid illustration of quantum physics as a half-dead cat? Want to know how an alleged Soviet spy escaped capture and went on to shake up particle physics? Can you guess what propelled The Tao of Physics to bestseller status? If questions like these spark your curiosity, this book is for you. I can imagine no better guide for an insider's tour of twentieth-century physics than Kaiser. These witty vignettes beautifully illustrate what Kaiser calls the 'doubleness' of scientific research, its ability to bequeath enduring insights while reflecting the quirks and foibles of historical circumstances."--Deborah R. Coen, author of Climate in Motion
"Leave[s] us with a richer picture of physics as a lived activity."--Los Angeles Review of Books