Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)


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With quantum electrodynamics —which, as I already stated, emerged in the first half of the twentieth century—and quantum chromodynamics, we have quantum theories for both electromagnetic and strong interactions. But what about the weak interaction, responsible for radioactive phenomena? George Sudarshan b. They independently proposed a theory that unified electromagnetic and weak interactions.

Their model included ideas proposed by Sheldon Glashow b. The electroweak theory unified the description of electromagnetic and weak interactions. But could it be possible to take a farther step on the path to unification, formulating a theory that would also include the strong interaction described by quantum chromodynamics? The affirmative answer to this question was provided by Howard Georgi b. From the perspective of GUTs, in the beginning there was only one force, which contained electromagnetic, weak and strong forces. However, as the Universe cooled, they began to separate.

Such theoretical tools make it possible to explain questions such as the existence at least in appearance, and fortunately for us of more matter than antimatter in the Universe. The Japanese physicist, Motohiko Yoshimura used this property to demonstrate that an initial state in which there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter could evolve into one with more protons or neutrons than their respective antiparticles, thus producing a Universe like ours, in which there is more matter than antimatter.

Thanks to the group of theories mentioned above, we have an extraordinary theoretical framework in which to understand what nature is made of. Its predictive capacity is incredible. These theories accept that all matter in the universe is made up of aggregates of three types of elemental particles: electrons and their relatives those called muon and tau , neutrinos electronic, muonic and tauonic neutrinos and quarks, as well as the quanta associated with the fields of the four forces we recognize in nature photons, for electromagnetic interaction, Z and W particles gauge bosons for weak interaction, gluons for strong interaction; and even though gravitation has yet to be included in this framework, the as-yet-unobserved gravitons, for gravitational interaction.

The subset formed by quantum chromodynamics and electroweak theory that is, the theoretical system that includes relativistic and quantum theories of strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions proves especially powerful in its balance of predictions and experimental confirmation. It will be remembered—together with general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the unravelling of the genetic code—as one of the most outstanding intellectual advances of the twentieth century. But much more so than general relativity and quantum mechanics, it is the product of a communal effort.

That is inevitable: the history of high-energy physics calls not for an entire book, but for several. Why do those particles have the masses they have? Why, for example, does the tau weigh around 3, times as much as an electron? Why are there four fundamental interactions, instead of three, five, or just one? And why do those interactions have the properties they do such as intensity or range of action? Let us now consider gravitation, the other basic interaction. Can it be unified with the other three? A central problem is the lack of a quantum theory of gravitation that has been subjected to experimental testing.

There are, however, candidates for this splendid unifying dream: complex mathematical structures called string theories. According to string theory, basic particles existing in nature are actually one-dimensional filaments extremely thin strings in spaces with many more dimensions than the three spatial and single temporal one we are aware of. So what kind of materiality do these one-dimensional theoretical constructs have? I said before that string theories are complex mathematical structures, and that is certainly true.

And even those approximate equations are so complicated that, to date, they have only partially been solved. So it is no surprise that one of the great leaders in this field was a physicist with a special gift for mathematics. I am referring to the American, Edward Witten b. The reader will get an idea of his stature as a mathematician when I mention that, in , he received one of the four Fields medals alongside Pierre-Louis Lions, Jean-Christophe Yoccoz and Shigefumi Mori that are awarded every four years and are the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

This eleven-dimensional theory, which Witten called M Theory, has yet to be completely developed But what is that other thing? After all, a vibration is the oscillation of some sort of matter, but as a permanent structure, it is probably more of a mathematical than a material entity.

Physicists would have been working very hard for centuries, or even millennia, only to discover that matter has finally slipped between their fingers, like a net, turning into mathematics, that is, mathematical structures. In sum, string theory unearths age-old problems, and maybe even ghosts: problems such as the relation between physics and the world and mathematics. Independently of those essentially philosophical aspects of nature, there are others that must be mentioned here.

Up to now, string theory has demonstrated very little, especially in light of the fact that science is not only theoretical explanation, but also experiments in which theory is subjected to the ultimate arbiter: experimental testing. String theories are admired by some, discussed by many, and criticized by quite a few, who insist that its nature is excessively speculative.

Thus, the distinguished theoretical physician, Lee Smolin , , pointed out in a book about these theories:. In the last twenty years, a great deal of effort has gone into string theory, but we still do not know if it is certain or not. Even after all the work that has been done, the theory offers no prediction that can be tested through current experiments, or at least, experiments conceivable at the present time.

The few clean predictions they propose have already been formulated by other accepted theories. Part of the reason why string theory makes no new predictions is that there seem to be an infinite number of versions. Even if we limit ourselves to theories that coincide with some of the basic facts observed in our universe, such as its vast size or the existence of dark energy, there continue to be something like different string theories; that is a one with five hundred zeros behind it, which is more than all the known atoms in the universe.

Such a quantity of theories offers little hope of identifying the result of any experiment that would not fit any of them. Thus, no matter what experiments show, it is not possible to demonstrate that string theory is false, although the opposite is equally true: no experiment can demonstrate that it is true.

In that sense, we should remember that one of the most influential methodologies in science continues to be the one put forth by Karl Popper , an Austrian philosopher who wound up at the London School of Economics. Popper always insisted that a theory that cannot be refuted by any imaginable experiment is not scientific. In other words, if it is not possible to imagine any experiment whose results contradict the predictions of a theory, then that theory is not truly scientific.

In my opinion, that criterion is too strict to be invariably true, but it is certainly a good guide. At any rate, the future will have the final say about string theory. Above, I dealt with the basic aspects of the structure of matter, but science is not limited to a search for the most fundamental, the smallest structure. It also seeks to understand what is closest to us and most familiar. In that sense, we must mention another of the great achievements of twentieth-century physics: the theoretical reconstruction of the processes —nucleosynthesis—that led to the formation of the atoms we find in nature, those of which we, ourselves, are made.

In fact, high-energy physics supplies the basis for nuclear physics, which studies stellar nucleosynthesis. As the universe cooled, the constituent parts of this soup underwent a process of differentiation. At a temperature of around 30, million degrees Kelvin which was reached in approximately 0. Consequently, we believe that the Big Bang generously supplied the universe with hydrogen and helium. But what about the other elements? After all, we know there are many more elements in nature. One does not have to be an expert to know of the existence of oxygen, iron, nitrogen, carbon, lead, sodium, zinc, gold and many other elements.

How were they formed? Even before high-energy physicists began studying primordial nucleosynthesis, there were nuclear physicists in the first half of the twentieth century who addressed the problem of the formation of elements beyond hydrogen and helium. Almost at the very beginning of the second half of the twentieth century, George Gamow and his collaborators, Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman , took another important step Alpher, Herman and Gamow They were followed two decades later by Robert Wagoner b.

Thanks to their contributions—and those of many others—it has been possible to reconstruct the most important nuclear reactions in stellar nucleosynthesis. One of those reactions is the following: two helium nuclei collide and form an atom of beryllium, an element that occupies fourth place atomic number on the periodic table, following hydrogen, helium and lithium its atomic weight is 9, compared to 1, for hydrogen, 4, for helium, and 6, for lithium.

Actually, more than one type of beryllium was formed, and one of these was an isotope with an atomic weight of 8. It was very radioactive and lasted barely one ten-thousand-billionth of a second, after which it disintegrated, producing two helium nuclei again. But if, during that instant of life, the radioactive beryllium collided with a third helium nucleus, it could form a carbon nucleus atomic number 6, atomic weight, 12 , which is stable. And if the temperatures were high enough, then carbon nuclei would combine and disintegrate in very diverse ways, generating elements such as magnesium atomic number 12 , sodium 11 , neon 10 and oxygen 8.

In turn, two oxygen nuclei could join to generate sulphur and phosphorus. That is how increasingly heavy elements are made, up to, and including, iron Events like this raise another question: how did those elements reach the Earth, given that the place where they were made needed energy and temperatures unavailable on our planet?

The world after the Revolution: Physics in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century | OpenMind

And if we suppose that there must not be too much difference between our planet and others —except for details such as their makeup and whether or not they have life— then, how did they arrive at any other planet? It had actually occurred , years earlier, but it took the light that long to reach the Earth. Supernova explosions are what most spread the heavy elements generated by stellar nucleosynthesis through space. It is not too clear why such explosions occur, but it is though that, besides expulsing elements that have accumulated inside them except for a part that they retain, which turns into very peculiar objects, such as neutron stars ; in the explosion itself, they synthesize elements even heavier than iron, such as copper, zinc, rubidium, silver, osmium, uranium, and so on, including the greater part of over a hundred elements that now make up the periodic table and are relatively abundant in star systems such as our Solar System.

Quantum technology

It is precisely this abundance of heavy elements that makes it reasonable to assume that the Sun is a second-generation star, formed somewhat less than 5, million years ago by the condensation of residues of an earlier star that died in a supernova explosion. The material from such an explosion assembled in a disk of gas and dust with a proto-star in the center. The planets we now know as the Solar System—Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto though the latter has recently lost its planetary status with their satellites, such as the Moon—formed around the Sun, along elliptical bands, following a similar but gravitationally less intense process.

From that perspective, the Earth formed around 4, million years ago , like the other planets, is something similar to a small cosmic junk heap or cemetery ; an accumulation of star remains not important enough to give life to a new star, that is, agglomerates of elements in such small quantities that they were not able to trigger internal thermonuclear reactions like those occurring in stars. But just as life finds its place in garbage dumps, so too, it found its place on our Earth, We are both witnesses and proof of that phenomenon.

About 7, million years from now, the central zone of the Sun, where hydrogen turns into helium, will increase in size as the hydrogen is used up. And when that helium nucleus grows large enough, the Sun will expand, turning into what is called a red giant. Thus, the very nuclear processes that gave us life will take it away. The physics theories discussed in previous sections are certainly quantum theories, but the world of quantum physics is not limited to them, and it would be a grave error not to mention other advances in this world during the second half of the twentieth century.

Given the difficulty of deciding which of them is most important, I have chosen two groups. The first includes developments that have strengthened quantum physics in the face of criticism formulated by Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen, among others. The second has to do with work that has revealed the existence of quantum phenomena at a macroscopic scale. The goal of science is to provide theoretical systems that permit the relation of as many natural phenomena as possible, and that have a predictive capacity.

If this was already clear when quantum mechanics began in , it is even more so today. Let us consider this, now. In , Albert Einstein, along with two of his collaborators, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen , published an article Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen arguing that quantum mechanics could not be a complete theory, that new variables had to be added.

This experiment was carried out at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Optics of Orsay, on the outskirts of Paris, by a team led by Alain Aspect b.


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  6. The result Aspect, Dalibard and Roger supported quantum mechanics. It might be rare, counterintuitive, have variables that cannot be determined simultaneously, and undermine our traditional idea of what reality is, but it is true. All of the elements of a quantum system are connected, entangled. It does not matter that they might be so distant from each other that transmitting a signal to one element about what has happened to another is not even possible at the speed of light, which is the maximum allowed by special relativity.

    Nonlocality—which Einstein always rejected as contrary to common-sense physics— unquestionably poses a problem of compatibility with special relativity, but there is no reason to think that we will be unable, at some future date, to find a generalization of quantum mechanics that solves it. Still, it is certainly not going to be easy.

    Moreover, nonlocality offers possibilities that would seem to belong to the realm of science fiction.

    The Bakerian Lecture 2019: quantum revolution

    To be precise, no one has yet been able to teleport a person, but the state of a quantum system has been teleported in a laboratory. And this incredible phenomenon is beginning to be used in cryptography and could be used in future quantum computing. Ideas, and to some degree realities, such as these show that science can even surpass science fiction. At any rate, these consequences of quantum physics are more a matter for the twenty-first century than for the one that recently ended. We are accustomed to thinking that the domain of quantum physics is exclusively the ultramicroscopic, that of elemental particles, atoms and radiation.

    But such is not the case, even though historically those phenomena were responsible for the genesis of quantum theories. The two main manifestations of macroscopic quantum physics are Bose-Einstein condensation and superconductivity. From a theoretical standpoint, Bose-Einstein condensates or condensation come from an article published by the Hindu physicist, Satyendranath Bose in There, he introduced a new statistical method a way of counting photons to explain the law of black-body radiation that had led Max Planck to formulate the first notion of quantization in Kapitza had been a senior professor at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge until , when he returned to Russia on vacation.

    Stalin refused to let him leave, and he became director of the Physics Problems Institute in Moscow. Those articles Kapitza ; Allen and Misener announced that, below 2. But the theoretical demonstration that this phenomenon constituted evidence of superfluidity came from Fritz London and Laszlo Tisza b. Of course, this was the old idea put forth by Einstein in , which had drawn very little attention at the time.

    Now, it was more developed and had been applied to systems very different than the ideal gasses considered by the father of relativity.


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    It should be pointed out, however, that despite the importance we now give to those discoveries as macroscopic examples of quantum behavior, that aspect was less evident at the time. That achievement arrived much later, in , when Eric Cornell b. A few months later, Wolfgang Ketterle b. This is how the first two described their work Cornell and Wieman , 82 :. The Bose-Einstein condensate, the first to be observed in a gas, is materially analogous to a laser, except that, in a condensate, it is atoms, not photons, that dance in unison We rarely see the effects of quantum mechanics reflected in the behavior of a macroscopic amount of matter.

    The incoherent contributions of the immense number of particles in any portion of matter obscure the wavelike nature of quantum mechanics; we can only infer its effects. But in a Bose condensate, the wavelike nature of every atom is in phase with the rest in a precise manner. Quantum-mechanical waves run through the entire sample and are plainly visible.

    The submicroscopic becomes macroscopic. The creation of Bose-Einstein condensates has shed light on old paradoxes of quantum mechanics. For example, if two or more atoms are in a single quantum-mechanical state, which is what happens with a condensate, it will be impossible to tell them apart, no matter how they are measured. The two atoms will occupy the same volume of space, move at the same speed, disperse light of the same color, and so on. In our experience, based on the constant treatment of matter at normal temperatures, nothing can help us understand this paradox.

    For one reason: at the normal temperatures and scales of magnitude in which we generally work, it is possible to describe the position and movement of each and every one of the objects in a group… At extremely low temperatures, or small scales of magnitude, classical mechanics no longer holds… We cannot know the exact position of each atom, and it is better to imagine them like imprecise stains. The stain is a package of waves, the region of space where one can expect that atom to be.

    As the group of atoms cools, the size of such wave packages increases. As long as each atom is spatially separate from the others, it will be possible, at least in principle, to tell them apart. But when the temperature gets low enough, the wave packages of neighbouring atoms overlap.

    The atoms suffer a quantum identity crisis: we can no longer tell them apart. Superconductivity is another of the physical phenomena in which quantization appears on a macroscopic scale. Once the current began, it would continue indefinitely even if no power difference was applied. It was later discovered that other metals and compounds also became superconductors at temperatures near absolute zero. Of course experimental evidence is one thing and a theory capable of explaining it is quite another.

    Its explanation Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer is that below a certain temperature the electrons that transport electric current in a superconductive element or compound form pairs that act as bosons; that is, particles like photons that are not subject to certain quantum requirements. Once the pairs are formed, they march like a harmonious army of bosons, ignoring atomic impediments.

    That is how this quantum effect is manifested on a macroscopic scale. The BCS theory was a formidable success for quantum physics, but it is not totally satisfactory, as was revealed by its incapacity to predict the existence of superconductivity in ceramic materials at much higher temperatures than had previously been employed. Since then, the number of such materials and the temperature at which they become superconductors has increased continually.

    Materials that are superconductors at temperatures that can be achieved in everyday settings that is, outside the laboratory might revolutionize our lives some day. Our previous observation about the relevance of quantum physics to technology extends far beyond superconductivity. In , the three were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics—the first of two for Bardeen as we saw above, he received the second for superconductivity. A transistor is an electronic device made from a semiconductor material that can regulate a current passing through it.

    It can also act as an amplifier or as a photoelectric cell. Compared to the vacuum tubes that preceded them, transistors need only tiny amounts of energy to function. They are also more stable and compact, work instantly, and last longer. Transistors were followed by integrated circuits, tiny and very thin devices on which the digital world is based. Integrated circuits are made with a substrate usually silicon , on which are deposited fine films of materials that alternately conduct or insulate electricity.

    Assembled according to patterns drawn up beforehand, these films act as transistors each integrated circuit can hold millions of transistors that function like switches, controlling the flow of electricity through the circuit, or chip. As part of these chips, transistors carry out basic functions in the billions and billions of microprocessors installed to control car engines, cell phones, missiles, satellites, gas networks, microwave ovens, computers and compact disc players.

    They have literally changed the way we communicate with each other, relate to money, listen to music, watch television, drive cars, wash clothes and cook. Until the advent of transistors and integrated circuits, calculating machines were gigantic masses of electronic components. It had 17, vacuum tubes linked by miles of cable.

    It weighted 30 tons and consumed kilowatts of electricity. We can consider it the paradigm of the first generation of computers. The second generation arrived in the nineteen fifties, with the advent of transistors. The third generation of computers arrived in the late nineteen sixties, with the advent of integrated circuits. It was followed by a fourth generation, which used microprocessors and refined programming languages. There is now talk of quantum computers. Rather than bits, which have defined values of 0 or 1, they will use qubits, that is, quantum bits, which can take values between 0 and 1, just as quantum states can be the superposition of photons with horizontal and vertical polarizations.

    But if quantum computers are ever successfully made, they will probably belong to the second half of the twenty-first century. Thanks to all these advances, we are now immersed in a world full of computers that carry out all kinds of functions with extraordinary speed and dependability.

    The great revolutions of the Twentieth Century

    Without them, our lives would be very different. And it is very important to emphasize that none of this would have happened without the results obtained in one branch of quantum physics: solid-state physics also known as condensed-matter physics. Another positive aspect of this branch of physics is the way in which it has generated closer relations between science and society.

    The Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory opened for business in February and recruited an excellent group of professionals. Though not especially successful, it was the seed that led to the development of numerous high-technology companies in a part of California that came to be called Silicon Valley. Science and technology are allied in this techo-scientific world in such an intimate way—so to speak— that we cannot really say that fundamental innovation occurs only in scientific enclaves and business in technological ones.

    The first integrated circuit was built at the same place by Robert N. Noyce in There, he and Ted Hoff b. Nanotechnology is more a technique or group of techniques than a science, but it can be expected to lead to developments to a degree, it already is that contribute not only to our material possibilities, but also to the most basic scientific knowledge. I have yet to mention the maser and the laser although chronologically they are earlier than some of the advances mentioned above.

    Those terms are acronyms for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation and light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, respectively. From a theoretical standpoint, these instruments or procedures for amplifying waves of the same frequency wavelength are explained in two articles by Einstein a, b. Their practical development, however, with all the new theoretical and experimental elements involved, did not arrive until the nineteen fifties.

    This achievement was carried out, independently, by physicists from the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow—Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov —and the United States scientist, Charles Townes b. In May , at a conference on radio-spectroscopy at the USSR Academy of the Sciences, Basov and Prokhorov described the maser principle, although they did not publish anything until two years later Basov and Prokhorov They not only described the principle; Basov even built one as part of his doctoral dissertation, just a few months after Townes had done so.

    It is worth telling how Townes arrived independently at the same idea of a maser, as it shows how very diverse the elements making up a process of scientific discovery can actually be. After working at Bell Laboratories between and , where he carried out research on radar, among other things, Townes moved to the Columbia University Radiation Laboratory, created during World War II to develop radars, instruments essential to the war effort.

    In the spring of , Townes organized an advisory committee at Columbia to consider new ways of generating microwaves shorter than one centimeter for the Naval Research Office. After thinking about this question for a year, he was about to attend one of the committee sessions when he had an idea about a new way to approach it. That new idea was the maser. When, in , Townes, a young doctor named Herbert J. Zeiger and a doctoral candidate named James P. Gordon managed to make the idea work, using a gas of ammonia molecules Gordon, Zeiger and Townes , it turned out that the oscillations produced by the maser were characterized not only by their high frequency and power, but also by their uniformity.

    In fact, the maser produced a coherent emission of microwaves; that is, highly concentrated microwaves with just one wavelength. Even before the proliferation of masers, some physicists began attempting to apply that idea to other wavelengths. Among them were Townes himself as well as Basov and Prokhorov , who began work in to move from microwaves to visible light.

    On this project, he collaborated with his brother-in-law, Arthur Schawlow , a physicist from Bell Laboratories. They only did so at the insistence of the two scientists Schawlow and Townes From that moment, the race was on to build a laser. While later history has not always been sufficiently clear on this matter, the first successful one was built by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. He managed to make a ruby laser function on 16 May Soon thereafter, Schawlow announced in Physical Review Letters that, along with five collaborators Collins, Nelson, Schawlow, Bond, Garret and Kaiser , he had gotten another laser to work.

    But other uses of considerable scientific significance are not as well known. One of these is spectroscopy. The discoveries and developments discussed above are probably the most outstanding from, let us say, a fundamental perspective. We are referring to non-linear phenomena; that is, those governed by laws involving equations with quadratic terms The most straightforward example in this sense is the simple flat pendulum. Any high-school student, not to mention physics students, knows that the differential equation used to describe the movement of this type of pendulum is:.

    Now, when we deduce it is not a difficult problem the equation that the motion of a simple flat pendulum should meet, it turns out that it is not the one shown above, but instead:. In fact, there are no general systematic mathematical methods for dealing with non-linear equations. Of course many problems associated with non-linear systems laws have long been known, especially those from the field of hydrodynamics, the physics of fluids.

    Aerodynamics is, of course, another example of non-linear domains, as everyone involved in aircraft design knows so well The wealth of non-linear systems is extraordinary; especially the wealth and novelties they offer with respect to linear ones. That is, they lead to localized and highly coherent structures. This has obvious implications in the apparition and maintenance of structures related to life from cells and multicellular organisms right up to, strange as it may sound, mental thoughts.

    But it was not until that Norman Zabusky and Martin Kruskal found a solution to this equation that represents one of the purest forms of coherent structures in motion Zabusky and Kruskal : the soliton, a solitary wave that moves with constant velocity. Far from being mathematical entelechies, solitons actually appear in nature: for example, in surface waves that move essentially in the same direction observed in the Andaman sea that separates the isles of Andaman and Nicobar in the Malaysian peninsula.

    An especially important case of non-linear systems is chaos systems. A system is characterized as chaotic when the solutions of equations that represent it are extremely sensitive to initial conditions. If those conditions change even slightly, the solution the trajectory followed by the object described by the solution will be radically modified, following a completely different path. This is the contrary of the non-chaotic systems that physics has offered us for centuries, in which small changes in the opening conditions do not substantially alter the solution.

    Extreme variability in the face of apparently insignificant changes in their starting points and conditions are what lead these systems to be called chaotic. But that does not mean that they are not subject to laws that can be expressed mathematically. Weather is one of the large-scale examples of chaotic systems; in fact, it was weather-research that revealed what chaos really is; small perturbations in the atmosphere can cause enormous climate changes. In his weather research, he developed simple mathematical models and explored their properties with the help of computers.

    But, in , he found that something strange occurred when he repeated previous calculations. Here is how he, himself, reconstructed the events and his reaction in the book, The Essence of Chaos Lorenz , , which he wrote years later:. At one point, I decided to repeat some of the calculations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that had come out of the printer a little earlier, and started it back up.

    I went to the lobby to have a cup of coffee and came back an hour later, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers coming out of the printer had nothing to do with the previous ones. I immediately though one of the tubes had deteriorated, or that the computer had some other sort of breakdown, which was not infrequent, but before I called the technicians, I decided to find out where the problem was, knowing that that would speed up the repairs.

    Instead of a sudden interruption, I found that the new values repeated the previous ones at first, but soon began to differ by one or more units in the final decimal, then in the previous one, and then the one before that. In fact, the differences doubled in size more-or-less constantly every four days until any resemblance to the original figures disappeared at some point during the second month. That was enough for me to understand what was going on: the numbers I had typed into the computer were not exactly the original ones. They were rounded versions I had first given to the printer.

    The initial errors caused by rounding out the values were the cause: they constantly grew until they controlled the solution. Nowadays, we would call this chaos. Weather is such a chaotic system, which is why it is so hard to predict, so unpredictable, as we often put it.

    The article in which he presented his results Lorenz is one of the great achievements of twentieth-century physics, although few non-meteorological scientists noticed it at the time. This was to change radically over the following decades. It is becoming increasingly clear that chaotic phenomena are abundant in nature. It seems that they can also show up in the apparently stable movements of the planets.

    The consequences of the discovery of chaos—and, apparently, its ubiquity—for our view of the world are incalculable. They are Newtonian, of course, but unlike those used by the great Isaac Newton and all his followers, which were linear, these are non-linear. Nature is not linear, it is non-linear, but not all non-linear systems are chaotic, although the reverse is certainly true, for all chaotic systems are non-linear. Thus, the world is more complicated to explain and we cannot predict everything that is going to happen in the old Newtonian fashion.

    What is marvelous is that we are able to discover such behavior and its underlying mathematical laws. I could, and probably should have mentioned other developments that occurred or began in the second half of the twentieth century, including non-equilibrium thermodynamics, one of whose central elements are gradients or differences of magnitudes such as temperature or pressure. For living beings, thermodynamic equilibrium is equivalent to death, so understanding life necessarily requires understanding non-equilibrium thermodynamics, rather than just the equilibrium thermodynamics that predominated throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    The complexity of life and other systems in nature is a natural result of the tendency to reduce gradients: wherever circumstances allow, cyclical organizations arise to dissipate entropy in the form of heat. It could even be argued—and this is a new, not especially Darwinian way of understanding evolution—that, inasmuch as access to gradients increases as perceptual capacities improve, then increasing intelligence is an evolutionary tendency that selectively favors prosperity by those who exploit dwindling resources without exhausting them.

    But I have already written too much here, so it is time to stop. Alpher, R. Herman and G. Physical Review Letters 74 : Aspect, A. Dalibard and G. Physical Review Letters 49 : Bardeen, J. But that's the beauty of it. Chown delivers the reality of its complex nature in bitesize chunks of story telling using amusing examples to accommodate the listener. I found this book most enjoyable and keen to return to. It is well read and pleasing to the ear. A nice short book leaving the listener wanting more. This is a good popular science book, but it requires a bit of understanding of physics before you start, so not a complete beginners guide.

    As you might think from the title. After listening to this my head hurts! Actually, a really interesting and truly mind-boggling book but it's going to take more than one listen to even begin to understand some of the topics discussed here. The narration was excellent Loved it so very much!

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    Easy to understand and very educational! Oh, and excelent naration. References are made to the historical context of discoveries, but not overly long, this in itself is an interesting area but can be distracting. After Chapter seven the book moves onto Relativity, I am still unclear why, though it complements your introduction to the world of particles well.

    I don't regard myself as especially dense but I couldn't get very far with this book. The concepts are way too complicated for the casual listener but you could blame that on creation rather than the author. To be honest I think it would be a better print read than audio book listen By: Marcus Chown. Narrated by: Clive Mantle.

    Length: 6 hrs. Categories: Non-fiction , Physics. People who bought this also bought Davis Length: 30 hrs and 6 mins Original Recording Overall. Larson Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins Original Recording Overall. Grossman Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins Original Recording Overall. Wysession Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins Original Recording Overall.

    What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. Amazon Reviews. No Reviews are Available. Sort by:. Most Helpful Most Recent. Peter A fun, fascinating listen This is an interesting book although I am not sure why the author chose this title. Matthew Where to listen This book will tell you that you can be in two places at once, but I would just be in one place when listening, you might miss a very important bit!

    Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3) Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)
    Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3) Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)
    Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3) Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)
    Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3) Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)
    Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3) Quantum Revolution III — What is Reality? (Quantam revolution Book 3)

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