Here's part of what I wrote back then
Why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is different Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. Philip Ball is a science writer who was for many years an editor for physical sciences at the journal Nature.
The subtitle indicates what his book is about. It is aimed at readers of books on popular science who have, Ball believes, been given a misleading impression of quantum physics, starting with the notion that it is 'weird', which Ball thinks is a cop-out.
It's non-intuitive but not weird. The idea that it is comes from our understandably contorted attempts to find pictures for visualizing it or stories to tell about it. Quantum physics defies intuition, but philip ball science writer twitterpated do it an injustice by calling that circumstance 'weird'.
Quantum mechanics has the reputation of being probably the most obscure and difficult branch of science, but Ball insists that it isn't 'hard' in the way that car maintenance or learning Chinese are hard his examples.
That isn't to say that a slight readjustment of our intuitions will make everything suddenly explicable. On all these topics he makes one question the ideas one has acquired by reading popular accounts of them previously.
His approach is based on work by a number of physicists in the last decade or two. A central problem we are always told about in books of this kind concerns how the classical world of everyday objects, including us, emerges from the mysterious quantum world.
This occurs thanks to something cryptically described as 'collapse of the wave function'. Ball seeks to explain this, and much else, in terms of information. Quantum experiments take place within a wider classical environment, and what happens is that 'information gets out of the quantum system and into the macroscopic apparatus'.
There's then no longer any need for an ambiguous and contentious division of the world into the microscopic, where quantum rules, and macroscopic, which is necessarily classical.
We can abandon the search for some hypothetical 'Heisenberg cut' where the two worlds impinge. We can see not only that they are a continuum but also why classical physics is just a special case of quantum physics. On this interpretation there is no need for the radical 'many worlds' solution famously proposed by Hugh Everett III, according to which the world is continually splitting into different branches, in which innumerable copies of each of us continue to pursue different destinies.
Ball treats this theory at some length and concludes that it is both unnecessary and unworkable. Although this is mostly a book about theories, it does contain a quite lengthy discussion of quantum computers. This is included both as an illustration of the practical importance of quantum physics and also because Ball thinks that the questions it raises help to illuminate quantum physics.
Perhaps the most striking thing to emerge from this is the fact that no one is entirely sure how these machines actually work. Ball's usual method of approaching these is a little like a Socratic dialogue. Instead of coming straight out with what he thinks, he proposes possible answers to questions and then shows why they won't do, before offering an alternative; sometimes there are several stages in this process.
I've read a good many popular accounts of quantum theory in the past and had decided that I felt no great inclination to embark on any more. But I made an exception in this case and am glad I did, because I found I was genuinely being given a different way of thinking about the apparent paradoxes that swirl about the subject.The latest Tweets from Philip Ball (@philipcball).
Author, writer and broadcaster, mostly about science. Books include The Music Instinct, Curiosity, Critical Mass.
Obsessed by (too) many things. London, UKFollowers: K. Biography of science writer and broadcaster Philip Ball. The author of many popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, the science of social and political philosophy, the cognition of music, and physics in Nazi Germany.
He has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to. Mar 15, · Here's what Philip Ball thinks today. Keep in mind that Philip Ball is a science writer—it's part of his job to keep up with the science he writes about.
“Molecular mechanisms that generate biological diversity are rewriting ideas about how evolution proceeds”. In the article, “Learning from the Big Picture,” PHILIP BALL highlights the Computational Sustainability Network (CompSusNet), “an initiative sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and involving 13 US academic institutions as well as international partners, which aims to nurture this emerging field.”He notes that “the project is led by researchers at Cornell University.
Apr 27, · Philip Ball is a freelance science writer and author. He he written numerous bestsellers including 'Critical Mass' and 'Elegant Solutions'. With 'The Music Instinct', Ball turns his attention to.
From quantum computers that’ll make conventional machines redundant to a map of the brain, freelance writer Philip Ball highlights some of the key issues for science in the coming year.