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Quantum physics is concerned with the behaviour of matter – the atomic particles that make up our universe, which are too small to see. It provides the foundation for all modern science and a great deal of technology. Without it, we would have no computers, lasers, genetic engineering or molecular biology, and no understanding of DNA. Yet some of its ramifications seem to take us into the realms of science fiction, such as the theories of many worlds, time travel and of Schrödinger’s Cat, which, in the quantum world of multiple states, can be both dead and alive at the same time.
In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat is an elegant and engaging introduction to one of the most awe inspiring branches of modern science. Starting with the discoveries of Isaac Newton, John Gribbin takes us through the evolution of classical physics, and then the development and acceptance of quantum physics in the early 20th century. He introduces us to the geniuses who developed the key theories (including Planck, Bohr, Pauli, Einstein and Heisenberg as well as Schrödinger) and explains their remarkable discoveries: the inner workings of the atom, radiation, the birth of the universe, particle/wave duality, the Uncertainty Principle, the Copenhagen Interpretation and the many great questions about the nature of reality that quantum physics inspires.
John Gribbin is an outstanding science writer, recently honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of British Science Writers. First published in 1984, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat remains a definitive account and one of the few books on this subject aimed at the general reader. In a new afterword, Gribbin discusses the latest developments in areas such as quantum cryptography – soon likely to be used in purchases over the internet – and even quantum teleportation. Observing that ‘the quantum cat is out of the bag’, he predicts that the next quarter century is likely to be as exciting as the last one. Illustrator Raymond Biesinger has achieved the considerable feat of creating arresting graphic representations of such a mind-expanding theory.