“Engrossing . . . Leave[s] us with a richer picture of physics as a lived activity.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
In Quantum Legacies, David Kaiser introduces readers to iconic episodes in physicists’ still-unfolding quest to understand space, time, and matter at their most fundamental. In a series of vibrant essays, Kaiser takes us inside moments of discovery and debate among the great minds of the era—Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Stephen Hawking, and many more who have indelibly shaped our understanding of nature—as they have tried to make sense of a messy world.
Ranging across space and time, the episodes span the heady 1920s, the dark days of the 1930s, the turbulence of the Cold War, and the peculiar political realities that followed. In those eras as in our own, researchers’ ambition has often been to transcend the vagaries of here and now, to contribute lasting insights into how the world works that might reach beyond a given researcher’s limited view. In Quantum Legacies, Kaiser unveils the difficult and unsteady work required to forge some shared understanding between individuals and across generations, and in doing so, he illuminates the deep ties between scientific exploration and the human condition.
“A masterpiece of historical analysis.” —Nature
“A remarkable set of vignettes about major developments in physics and cosmology of the past century.” —Kip Thorne, Nobel Laureate in Physics
“Beautifully written and extraordinarily well researched, the book makes a profound point about the sociopolitical nature of science that all readers—from physics buffs and historians to students and laypeople—need to hear.” —Amanda Gefter, author of Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn