Our general comments here are followed by links to chapter-by-chapter enlargements of the material in the book.
The profound mysteries of quantum mechanics–the nature of physical reality, and entanglement (Einstein’s “spooky actions”)–today get increasing attention in physics journals. It’s remarkable that the essence of these same mysteries can be appreciated without a physics background.
“I used Quantum Enigma for the last few weeks of a conceptual physics course. The students’ enthusiasm made it the most exciting class I have ever taught.”
–Carlos Figueroa, Cabrillo College
In more technical courses, where the quantum mysteries are, at best, minimally presented, Quantum Enigma’s readily understandable treatment allows the course’s technical material to be appreciated in its philosophical context.
…Rosenblum and Kuttner manage to convey much of the exquisite subtlety of quantum mechanics without ever resorting to an equation. Their treatment of two-slit interference ranks right up there with (but differs interestingly from) Feynman’s famous “comes in lumps” approach, and their nontechnical description of Bell’s theorem is one of the best I’ve seen, and by far the least mathematical.
— N. David Mermin in the American Journal of Physics
Quantum Enigma has also been used as a discussion guide in seminars, and as the major reading in a course where the instructor adds material.
Unlike some popular books–on string theory, or cosmology, for example–Quantum Enigma does not raise the kind of questions that only a physicist specialized in the area can fully address. When questions go beyond the readily understandable, they involve issues that nobody can honestly address with assurance, but which we can all ponder.
In the social sciences and humanities, students often express their own opinions, even opinions contrasting with those of their instructor’s. That is considered a positive aspect of the course. Such stimulating interaction is rarely possible in a physics course. Quantum Enigma enables that engagement.
“The Quantum Enigma” Course
After publication of Quantum Enigma by Oxford University Press, the book was incorporated into the course, “The Quantum Enigma,” adding to previous reading for the course: the unpublished, very informal, 330 page “Reader,” or “Notes.” You may download the “Reader.”
The 330-page Reader
Click here for Chapters 1, 2, 3 (Filesize: 4.1 MB)
Click here for Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 (Filesize: 6.4 MB)
Click here for Chapters 8, 9, 10 (Filesize: 2.7 MB)
Click here for Chapters 11,12, 13, 14 (Filesize: 4.8 MB)
“The Quantum Enigma” was the most well-received physics course for non-science students taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz. (A few physics majors, and sometimes graduate students, were generally in the class.) Over-enrolled, the course was eventually moved to the largest science lecture theater.
Here are links to some articles relevant to Quantum Enigma that we have published:
“Teaching Physics Mysteries Versus Pseudo-science,”
in Physics Today
“Bell’s Theorem and Einstein’s ‘Spooky Actions’ from a Simple Thought Experiment”
in The Physics Teacher
View article here.
“The Conscious Observer in the Quantum Experiment”
in The Journal of Cosmology
View article here.
Chapter by Chapter comments on the material of Quantum Enigma.
These comments are informal, instructor-to-instructor, remarks. Mostly by BR. They are somewhat based on a conceptual physics course either Fred or I have taught each year for about 20 years. While the course does focus on modern physics and the quantum enigma, it’s more general than our book. Students use our (never published) draft text, and use Quantum Enigma as a supplement. This large lecture course is the most popular non-majors course in our department. (A syllabus for the course is available on request.)
Comments here can be just personal reflections, classroom experiences or suggestions, or material beyond that in the book.
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