• Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat

  • How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics
  • By: Paul Halpern
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (404 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger were friends and comrades-in-arms against what they considered the most preposterous aspects of quantum physics: its indeterminacy. Einstein famously quipped that God does not play dice with the universe, and Schrödinger is equally well known for his thought experiment about the cat in the box who ends up "spread out" in a probabilistic state, neither wholly alive nor wholly dead. Both of these famous images arose from these two men's dissatisfaction with quantum weirdness and with their assertion that underneath it all, there must be some essentially deterministic world. Even though it was Einstein's own theories that made quantum mechanics possible, both he and Schrödinger could not bear the idea that the universe was, at its most fundamental level, random.

As the Second World War raged, both men struggled to produce a theory that would describe in full the universe's ultimate design, first as collaborators, then as competitors. They both ultimately failed in their search for a grand unified theory - not only because quantum mechanics is true but because Einstein and Schrödinger were also missing a key component: of the four forces we recognize today (gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong force), only gravity and electromagnetism were known at the time.

Despite their failures, much of modern physics remains focused on the search for a grand unified theory. As Halpern explains, the recent discovery of the Higgs boson makes the standard model - the closest thing we have to a unified theory - nearly complete. And while Einstein and Schrödinger tried and failed to explain everything in the cosmos through pure geometry, the development of string theory has, in its own quantum way, brought this idea back into vogue. As in so many things, even when he was wrong, Einstein couldn't help but be right.

©2015 Paul Halpern (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very good physics book.

This was probably the 2nd best book on physics I've listened to. Quantum by Manjit Kumar is still the best. Overall engaging story. Some complicated physics but more about the men, their ideas, and their mistakes.

13 people found this helpful

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Finding new information amidst old news!

I initially thought that I was about to be mired in just another historical retelling Einstein's march to wards unification. However I was greatly delighted to find much more detail about the series that both he and Schrodinger wrestled with throughout their lives. This is a very worthwhile read for anyone who is really serious about the fundamental elements of early physics.

4 people found this helpful

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Who would have known...

Stuff you would have never guessed about these almost mythical figures is talked about in this book and brings them crashing back down to human being status. They were just like us, flaws and all, so perhaps there is greatness in us all.

3 people found this helpful

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Good for even a lay person

Enjoyed the story of the lives of this two icons of science. The book did a fair job in explaining the science/math in a way that I felt like I was understanding at least the basic ideas. Very interesting and informative.

1 person found this helpful

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Great for a scientist

It was a good listen but you need to have at least a basic understanding of physics to get what is being explained. I learned a lot about both Einstein and Schrodinger and tried to follow the science but it was mostly beyond my reach. I would probably listen again and I might follow it better.

1 person found this helpful

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great book!

this is a great book. it perfectly blends history with science. it's completely devoid of any political slant and science funding issues. the book reads like a novel, one to be read many times.

1 person found this helpful

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1/2 Quantum Theory, 1/2 Fruitless Search for Theory of Everything

Half of the audiobook is devoted to the foundations of quantum theory up through EPR, then the other half is devoted to the two physicists' searches for a unified theory of everything, which goes nowhere, so while it's an interesting history, it's of limited use if trying to gain insight into quantum theory. The first half on quantum theory is well put together though and offers some useful explanations for relativity and the equations of quantum theory without going that much into the math. The relationships of the two physicists with their lovers are also a focus of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Book

Very Good Book Erwin Shrödinger challenged the established quantum physics. He puzzled over quantum entanglement, quantum superposition. Shrödinger mathematics and thought experiment showed that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory. Albert Einstein was bothered by spooky action at a distance and of course is now widely known for his empirically tested and special in general theory of relativity the curvature of the four dimensional manifold of SpaceTime, local gravitation equals acceleration.

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Good listen

Good tea about the grandfathers of physics. It was a very nice listen. Oh that Schrodinger was such a kiss butt.

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Not for the faint of heart

This book was difficult to listen to and might be better read as a book than an audiobook. The topic is just too arcane for the non-expert to follow.