Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Cabot Science Library welcome author and influential physicist LEE SMOLIN for a discussion of his new book, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum.
Quantum physics is the golden child of modern science. It is the basis of our understanding of atoms, radiation, and so much else, from elementary particles and basic forces to the behavior of materials. But for a century it has also been the problem child of science: it has been plagued by intense disagreements between its inventors, strange paradoxes, and implications that seem like the stuff of fantasy. Whether it’s Schrödinger’s cat—a creature that is simultaneously dead and alive—or a belief that the world does not exist independently of our observations of it, quantum theory challenges our fundamental assumptions about reality.
In Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin provocatively argues that the problems which have bedeviled quantum physics since its inception are unsolved and unsolvable, for the simple reason that the theory is incomplete. There is more to quantum physics, waiting to be discovered. Our task—if we are to have simple answers to our simple questions about the universe we live in—must be to go beyond quantum mechanics to a description of the world on an atomic scale that makes sense.
In this vibrant and accessible book, Smolin takes us on a journey through the basics of quantum physics, introducing the stories of the experiments and figures that have transformed our understanding of the universe, before wrestling with the puzzles and conundrums that the quantum world presents. Along the way, he illuminates the existing theories that might solve these problems, guiding us towards a vision of the quantum that embraces common sense realism.
If we are to have any hope of completing the revolution that Einstein began nearly a century ago, we must go beyond quantum mechanics to find a theory that will give us a complete description of nature. In Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, Lee Smolin brings us a step closer to resolving one of the greatest scientific controversies of our age.
“Smolin is an extremely creative thinker who has been a leader in theoretical physics for many years. He is also a gifted writer who manages to translate his own insights about how science works into engaging language and compelling stories . . . Smolin’s description of how quantum mechanics works is both elegant and accessible.” —NPR
“Smolin offers a masterful exposition on the state of quantum physics, smoothly blending a history of the field with clear explanations, philosophical context and an accessible introduction to fresh ideas. His narrative on how two competing perspectives on quantum behaviour hardened into Bohr’s counter-intuitive orthodoxy, is spellbinding.”
—Financial Times (UK)
“The best explanation yet of what has yet to be explained.” —George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.