- Published: 2011
- Number of pages: 401 pages
- Format: PDF
- File Size: 3.06 MB
- Authors: David Kaiser
How the Hippies Saved Physics gives us an unconventional view of some unconventional people engaged early in the fundamentals of quantum theory. Great fun to read. —Anton Zeilinger, Nobel laureate in physicsThe surprising story of eccentric young scientists—among them Nobel laureates John Clauser and Alain Aspect—who stood up to convention and changed the face of modern physics.Today, quantum information theory is among the most exciting scientific frontiers, attracting billions of dollars in funding and thousands of talented researchers. But as MIT physicist and historian David Kaiser reveals, this cutting-edge field has a surprisingly psychedelic past. How the Hippies Saved Physics introduces us to a band of freewheeling physicists who defied the imperative to “shut up and calculate” and helped to rejuvenate modern physics.For physicists, the 1970s were a time of stagnation. Jobs became scarce, and conformity was encouraged, sometimes stifling exploration of the mysteries of the physical world. Dissatisfied, underemployed, and eternally curious, an eccentric group of physicists in Berkeley, California, banded together to throw off the constraints of the physics mainstream and explore the wilder side of science. Dubbing themselves the “Fundamental Fysiks Group,” they pursued an audacious, speculative approach to physics. They studied quantum entanglement and Bell’s Theorem through the lens of Eastern mysticism and psychic mind-reading, discussing the latest research while lounging in hot tubs. Some even dabbled with LSD to enhance their creativity. Unlikely as it may seem, these iconoclasts spun modern physics in a new direction, forcing mainstream physicists to pay attention to the strange but exciting underpinnings of quantum theory.A lively, entertaining story that illuminates the relationship between creativity and scientific progress, How the Hippies Saved Physics takes us to a time when only the unlikeliest heroes could break the science world out of its rut.
Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:
⭐Critics of this book have focused on physics per se, ignoring the social environment in which its theoreticians and experimentalists dwell. As sociologist historians of science have thoroughly presented, physics does not occur in isolation, either from society and its politics or from other scientific and scholarly disciplines. While the author presents some of the physical puzzles and the proponents of various explanations as the meat of the book, he also furthers an underlying theme that other reviewers elected to ignore or demean. This book is not a reductionistic history of recent physics and should not be judged as such. As a Berkeley first-wave academic hippie myself during the era examined [tuned it, turned on, but never dropped out], I was especially interested in whether physicists ‘up the hill’ at Lawrence Laboratories were influenced by the counter-culture, with its sundry interdisciplinary probes in holistic fields, consciousness-mind, and alternative perspectives of existence [which soon beget the renaissance in environmentalism and ecological studies (even in medicine); cognitive psychology and neuroscience; self-organization in biology and chemistry; psychoneuroimmunology and the placebo effect; and noetic phenomena of remote-viewing, precognition, and information fields]. New Physics experiments and their resulting philosophical interpretations, popularized by the subjects of this book, would soon indirectly support research in other disciplines. [Indeed, following the wake of Arthur Young’s Institute for the Study of Consciousness (1972) and the establishment of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (1973), the interdisciplinary Journal of Consciousness Studies (not be be confused with Young’s Journal for the Study of Consciousness) would commence in 1990 in conjunction with international conferences of consciousness within science.] Were these New Physicists walking a two-way street?What the author chronicles is that some of the Berkeley physicists were already predisposed to asking the big questions of consciousness and the role of physics. They were not hippies, however, and were indeed late to the cultural revolution. When academics were treating physics solely as engineering, avoiding philosophical ramifications, the Berkeley group of malcontents found enthusiastic listeners among aging academic hippies, New Agers, transpersonal psychologists, and increasing numbers of scholars from diverse fields. It was a return to the 1920s and the birth of quantum mechanics when the walls of science were porous to the deep questions of philosophy and Eastern mysticism. The group’s physicists were not among those whose experiments shifted paradigms or established experimental proof to key thought experiments; instead, they stirred the pot, brought physics into the living room, and spurred public support of physics research when jobs and funds were shallow.The book goes astray here and there, packing unnecessary information in some places, not enough in others, but by and large it presents a zeitgeist, the mood and energy of a time in which everything was questioned with an openness to innovative thought. Since reading the book was not reading history but recalling memories, I had to grin throughout in ‘been there, done that’ mode.Bell’s nonlocality proposal and subsequent experimental proofs and the entanglement of matter attributes have led to crytography, the hook of the book, but it also led theoretically to neuroscientist Karl Pribram’s informational hologram universe. Moreover, if the 11-dimension unified string theory is validated, then we have even greater complexity of strangeness but perhaps an opportunity for apprehending information transfer outside common time-space limits. After all, the elephant in the laboratory is consciousness-mind, and if physics is not even willing to consider it at least within plausible models, then it is utterly incomplete, merely mechanics and engineering, an applied not a fundamental science. Kaiser’s history reminds us of this; his book is both entertaining and educational.
⭐It is a good book on physics. I was expecting a little more specificity regarding the Hippies but overall it was a good read. A little background knowledge of physics is helpful though.
⭐The criterion for a good book is that it should change your behaviour, other than simply anaesthatising one from the generality of life’s distractions. This book succeeds with me in that I have already bought Nick Herbert’s “Quantum Reality”, frequently referred to by the author David Kaiser, and am pursuing Herbert’s other tome, “Elemental Mind”. The issues raised as to the actual nature of what we comfortingly refer to as ‘reality’ are as relevant now as at the beginning of the twentieth century and need to be discussed and conceptualised in every high school, pub, coffee shop and wherever people meet, but particularly in the labs and lecture halls of teaching institutions. We used to do this (I am 79 years old now) and it should still be done.Kaiser’s analysis of the careers of Physicists over the past 50 years is relevant and certainly fits in with my own experience in the trade and it is refreshing to see it so lucidly stated.Buy this book – a goldmine of references and anecdotes for todays Physicists and thinkers all.
⭐This book sets the record straight as to the essential role played by out-and-out iconoclasts in what has to be, in hindsight, mankind’s towering intellectual achievement to date: the further development and working out of Quantum Physics.Above and beyond telling an enthralling tale in its own right, it also reinforces and further elaborates on the themes of Kuhn’s ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ – providing a timely reminder that society’s indispensable, progress-begetting edge is lost whenever too much heed is paid to establishmentarians, unimaginative thinkers aka self-styled hard-nosed realists, and bean counters.A ‘perfect storm’ of unplanned but confluent events – budgetary constraints, the Vietnam War, and a few other non-linear events – led to the crucible that then enabled the coming together of an exceptional group of people in time and place.We can only ardently wish that such conditions were enabled by design rather than by happenstance. However, society’s pressures most often tend to work the other way – towards a stifling of free-thinking iconoclasm unmoored from immediate utilitarian concerns.An indispensable book.
⭐This is a terrific book! Its subject is not just the history of quantum physics in the second half of the 20th Century, but also how scientists work together in the real world. David Kaiser illuminates the role of fringe physicists (who may or may not be correct in their theories) in sparking further scientific developments. Every historic detail is researched and documented with footnotes. The book also relays a lay understanding of some of the basic principles of quantum physics, particularly Bell’s theorem and the No Cloning Principle. I didn’t find these explanations entirely understandable despite my considerable prior study in the area. However, this weakness is more than compensated for by the readability of the book and its elucidation of physics history. Bravo!
⭐The author has put together a masterful work of scholarship to track down this history of quantum physics and how it has gone through the politics and leading stories of our times to evolve to where it is today. Even though it is a lot of research and facts, it still reads like a good fiction novel. Since I lived through these times, and I know the Bay Area, I found it put into a clear sequence the events of those times; he knits it all together into a fascinating narrative. By the end of the book, one feels quite intimately connected to all the characters from Berkeley, Livermore, San Francisco, Esalen and such.
⭐Detras de toda teoria existe una gran historia y este libro te cuenta la historia de como la mecanica cuantica despues de ser “entendida” (para hacer bombas atomicas) empieza a ser estudiada en todas sus implicaciones existenciales, lo que dara en el futuro las bases de la criptografia cuántica.
⭐Es bueno, pero esperaba que fuera un poco más anecdótico sin entrar en muchos detalles técnicos sobre física. Está bien, pero es un poco más complicado de lo que me esperaba.
⭐The book does what is says on the cover, it explains the connection between alternative thinking and quantum mechanics. In fact what most people do not know is that alternative thinking in fact gave rise to the quantum world……
⭐I was hoping that this would answer some of the questions I have regarding how the idea of exchange forces, quarks and the Eightfold Path evolved. The book seems to be mainly about the idea that quantum phenomena can extend to special human powers such as those supposedly shown by Geller. A huge list of names associated with such research is scattered throughout the book. Not what I am interested in and thus disappointing.
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