Contents & Walkthrough

Chapter 1 Einstein Called It “Spooky”: And I wish I had known

I have thought a hundred times as much about the quantum problem as I have about general relativity theory.

– Albert Einstein

About an evening spent with Albert Einstein
His frustration. My regrets today.

Chapter 2 The Visit to Neg Ahne Poc: A Quantum Parable

If you're going to ham it up, go the whole hog.

– G. I. Gurdjieff

About a quantum-like bafflement in a magical place.

Chapter 3 Our Newtonian Worldview: A Universal Law of Motion

Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! And all was light.

– Alexander Pope

About the Newtonian worldview, which shapes the thinking of each of us.

Chapter 4 All The Rest of Classical Physics

There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.
All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

– Lord Kelvin (in 1894)

About the small amount of pre-quantum physics you need to know in order to understand the quantum enigma.

Hello Quantum Mechanics

The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.

– Sir James Jeans

Chapter 5 How The Quantum Was Forced On Physics

It was an act of desperation.

– Max Planck

About how the mystery first appeared, and then deepened.

Chapter 6 Schrödinger's Equation: The New Universal Law of Motion

If we are still going to put up with these damn quantum jumps, I am sorry that I ever had anything to do with quantum theory.

– Erwin Schrödinger

About how the physics now works perfectly.
But the “observer” intrudes.

Chapter 7 The Two-Slit Experiment

[The two-slit experiment] contains the only mystery.
We cannot make the mystery go away by ‘explaining’
how it works…In telling you how it works we will have
told you about the basic peculiarities of all quantum mechanics.

– Richard Feynman

About an experimental demonstration of the quantum enigma.
No theory can ever resolve the enigma without encountering the conscious observer.

Chapter 8 Our Skeleton in the Closet

The interpretation [of quantum mechanics] has remained a source of conflict from its inception… For many thoughtful physicists, it has remained a kind of "skeleton in the closet."

– J. M. Jauch

About a physicist presenting a “remarkable demonstration” to a group of reasonable and open-minded people. A skit.

Chapter 9 One Third of Our Economy

Developing quantum theory was ''the crowning intellectual achievement of the last century,'' says California Institute of Technology physicist John Preskill. It's the underlying principle for many of today's devices, from lasers to magnetic resonance imaging machines. And these may prove to be just the low-hanging fruit. Many scientists foresee revolutionary technologies based on the truly strange properties of the quantum world.

– Business Week, March 15, 2004

About some practical uses of quantum mechanics
­–before we further explore the mystery it presents.

Chapter 10 Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen…
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I’m home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me.

– “Wonderful Copenhagen” by Frank Loesser

About our “orthodox” interpretation: how to stop worrying and love the quantum theory, pragmatically.

Chapter 11 Schrödinger’s Controversial Cat

The entire system would [contain] equal parts of living and dead cat.

– Erwin Schrödinger

When I hear about Schrödinger’s cat, I reach for my gun.

– Stephen Hawking

About Schrödinger’s objection (“It’s absurd!”) to the theory he created. And the claim that his objection is absurd.

You decide for yourself.

Chapter 12 Seeking a Real World: EPR

I think that a particle must have a separate reality independent of the measurements. That is, an electron has spin, location and so forth even when it is not being measured. I like to think the moon is there even if I am not looking at it.

– Albert Einstein

About how Einstein shocked quantum theory’s developers by showing that quantum theory involves “spooky actions,” and denies the existence of a real world independent of its observation.

Chapter 13 Spooky Actions: Bell’s Theorem

Thou canst not stir a flower
without troubling of a star.

– Francis Thompson

About John Bell’s showing how to test whether Einstein’s “spooky actions” actually exist. They do. They create a universal connectedness.

Chapter 14 Experimental Metaphysics

All men suppose that what is called wisdom deals with the first causes and the principles of things.

– Aristotle, in Metaphysics

About experiments connecting the quantum microscopic world with the classical macroscopic world. Experiments not long ago considered impossible.

Chapter 15 What’s Going On? Interpreting the Quantum Enigma

You know something’s happening here,
but you don’t know what it is.

– Bob Dylan

It is a striking fact that almost all the interpretations of quantum mechanics…depend to some degree on the presence of consciousness for providing the ‘observe’ that is required for…the emergence of a classical-like world.

– Roger Penrose

About the presently contending interpretations of what quantum mechanics is telling us about the world. And about us.

Chapter 16 The Mystery of Consciousness

What is meant by consciousness we need not discuss; it is beyond all doubt.

– Sigmund Freud

Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing that is harder to explain.

– David Chalmers

About our exploring consciousness itself and its “hard problem.”

Chapter 17 The Mystery Meets the Enigma

When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again: it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.

– Eugene Wigner

When there are two mysteries, it is tempting to suppose that they have a common source. This temptation is magnified by the fact that the problems in quantum mechanics seem to be deeply tied to the notion of observership, crucially involving the relation between a subject’s experience and the rest of the world.

– David Chalmers

About consciousness and quantum mechanics being not just two mysteries, but the two mysteries.

Chapter 18 Consciousness and the Quantum Cosmos

In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it.

– Martin Rees

About how consciousness appears on the grandest scale of all.
And our parting words.