Monday, November 23, 2015

My Amazon Review of Paul Halpern's "Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics

Not Physics for Dummies

Physicist Paul Halpern has written and interesting and difficult book about the lives and theories of two of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. His discussion about the lives and philosophies of Einstein and Schrodinger is fascinating. This is especially true when he discusses Einstein’s deity in the context of Baruch Spinoza which leads him to believe that science is deterministic and not probabilistic. Hence Einstein’s aphorism that God does not play dice with the universe.  He also goes into great detail about Schrodinger’s very active sex life with more than a few women all the while being married. He spends more time on this than Schrodinger’s famous cat that is half dead and half alive.

At least for me, where he makes it difficult for the lay reader is his discussion of the science of Einstein and Schrodinger. Before reading this book I would suggest that the lay reader become very acquainted with the equivalent of “quantum mechanics for dummies,” “relativity for dummies,” and “unified field theory” for dummies.” Alas with only one course of college level physics there were many parts of this book where I was lost. The book needs clearer examples of the theories and diagrams would be of great help.

Finally his title is somewhat of a misnomer. Neither Einstein nor Schrodinger, try as they might, never arrived at a unified theory of physics. Even today’s standard model which Halpern acknowledges does not account for the role of gravity while accounting for electromagnetism and weak and strong forces of nuclear interaction. With that last sentence I am way over my head.

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