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March 28th, 2009

Sons of Atom

Abstract:
A review By PETER GALISON of: THE AGE OF ENTANGLEMENT: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn, By Louisa Gilder.

In the first half of her new book, "The Age of Entanglement," Louisa Gilder does her level best to cope with this plethora of sources, characters and topics, with mixed results. She writes engagingly, using dialogue reconstructed from letters, papers and memoirs to capture the spirit of confrontation among the players. That's good. But she seems ill at ease with the German sources and so is reliant on the secondary literature — some of which is well done, some not. That's not so good.

But on Page 181, the clouds part and Gilder reveals a sparkling, original book. Leaving Copenhagen, Berlin and Göt­tingen behind, she recounts a history of the quantum physics that did not end in 1927. With a smaller, more contemporary cast of characters from Berkeley, Innsbruck, Harvard and CERN, the big accelerator outside Geneva, Gilder brings the reader into a mix of ideas and personalities handled with a verve reminiscent of Jeremy Bernstein's scientific portraits in The New Yorker.

Source:
nytimes.com

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