Quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful scientific theory. It is also completely mad. Although the theory quite obviously works, it leaves us chasing ghosts and phantoms; particles that are waves and waves that are particles; cats that are at once both alive and dead; and lots of seemingly spooky goings-on. But if we're prepared to be a little more specific about what we mean when we talk about 'reality' and a little more circumspect in the way we think a scientific theory might represent such a reality, then all the mystery goes away. This shows that the choice we face is actually a philosophical one.
Here, Jim Baggott provides a quick but comprehensive introduction to quantum mechanics for the general reader, and explains what makes this theory so very different from the rest. He also explores the processes involved in developing scientific theories and explains how these lead to different philosophical positions, essential if we are to understand the nature of the great debate between Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein. Moving forwards, Baggott then provides a comprehensive guide to attempts to determine what the theory actually means, from the Copenhagen interpretation to many worlds and the multiverse.
Richard Feynman once declared that 'nobody understands quantum mechanics'. This book will tell you why.
Jim Baggott is an award-winning science writer. He trained as a scientist at the University of Oxford before embarking on post-doctoral research studies at Oxford and at Stanford University in California. He gave up a tenured lectureship at the University of Reading after five years in order to gain experience in the commercial world. He worked for Shell International Petroleum for 11 years before leaving to establish his own business consultancy and training practice. Jim's many books include Quantum Space (OUP, 2018), Mass (OUP, 2017), Origins (OUP, 2015), Higgs (OUP, 2012), The Quantum Story (OUP, 2011), and A Beginner's Guide to Reality (Penguin, 2005).
Prologue: Why Didn't Somebody Tell Me About All This Before?
1: The Complete Guide to Quantum Mechanics (Abridged)
2: Just What is This Thing Called 'Reality', Anyway?
3: Sailing on the Sea of Representation
4: When Einstein Came Down to Breakfast
5: ...So Just Shut Up and Calculate
6: ...But We Need to Reinterpret What it Says
7: ...So We Need to Add Some Things
8: ...So We Need to Add Some Other Thing
9: ...Because We Need to Include My Mind (Or Should that be Your Mind?)
10: ...Because...Okay, I Give Up
Epilogue: I've Got a Very Bad Feeling About This