Monday, May 13, 2013

Quantum Physics, Academia, and Things That Never Change

"I strongly advise you not to do your thesis work on such topics."

"And why not?"

"You should work on something solid first, that the community endorses. Until you have a solid reputation as a physicist, no one will listen to what you have to say about the foundations of quantum mechanics."

And so Marcelo Gleiser summarizes his his first, and only, meeting with John Bell in the 1980s. Sound sadly familiar? Gleiser, at that point in his life, had just passed his qualifying exams and was "trying to nail down my topic." 

His recent article on gives insight into what his formative years were like in his PhD program at Kings College. Ferrying between supersymmetric theories and the foundations of quantum physics, Gleiser makes some very interesting points about the underpinnings of quantum physics that should echo far beyond those interested in physics!

Gleiser also gives a few recommendations (links below):

"Here are some books on quantum mechanics that I recommend: David Kaiser's How the Hippies Saved Physics; David Albert's Quantum Mechanics and Experience; Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner's Quantum Enigma; Louise Gilder's The Age of Entanglement. An excellent new one is: Quantum Physics for Poets, by Christopher Hill and Leon Lederman.)"

*Remember that if you are a UW student or faculty member and the book is checked out on the Madison campus, you can have it delivered from another UW-System library--click on "View physical copies at other campuses" on the right side of the page.*

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