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The Age of Entanglement

The Age of Entanglement: when quantum physics was reborn
By Louisa Gilder
Knopf, 2008
464 pages

The elevation of physics during the course of the 20th century to a position of great eminence – as evidenced by the billions spent on devices that allow us to both peer back in time and deep within the atomic nucleus – is due to the creation of two theories: relativity and quantum mechanics brought to birth by mainly German thinkers.
The creator of relativity, Albert Einstein, was deeply involved in the discussion that evolved in connection with the problems related to the creation and interpretation of quantum mechanics (Q.M.) as Einstein was never convinced that Q.M. produced an adequate or complete picture of the atomic world.
His decades long debate with Neils Bohr the father of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Q.M. is the most fascinating argument in modern physics. It is one that is well documented, forming the core of Louisa Gilder’s sparkling book on the problem of entanglement – the apparent influence of one particle on another, during an act of measurement that appears to transcend all material limitation, thus producing an instantaneous effect, irrespective of distance.
She traces this ‘spooky action at a distance’ – from a small barely heard leitmotiv to full-blown center stage focus in an aria whose end and un-standing is nowhere in sight.
She does it in a manner of great empathy by using primary and secondary documents to take you inside the lives of those who were involved in the over 80 years long debate that is key to our physical understanding of the world that surrounds us.
The Age of Entanglement is a delicious read for anyone who enjoys intellectual challenge and can savor just how strange the world is now seen to be by those struggling to understand the edge of physical thinking in the 21st century.

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