Genius by Gleick, James

By Gleick, James

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He was a few weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday, too old now to pass for a boy wonder. He was trying to skip some details that would seem controversial—but too late. ” Feynman had hoped to avoid this. The exclusion principle meant that only one electron could inhabit a particular quantum state; Teller thought he had caught him pulling two rabbits from a single hat. Indeed, in Feynman’s scheme particles did seem to violate this cherished principle by coming into existence for a ghostly instant.

Principles You can’t say A is made of B or vice versa. All mass is interaction. Even when quantum physics worked, in the sense of predicting nature’s behavior, it left scientists with an uncomfortable blank space where their picture of reality was supposed to be. ” They had little choice. These scientists did not even know how to visualize the atom they had just split so successfully. They had created and then discarded one sort of picture, a picture of tiny particles orbiting a central nucleus as planets orbit the sun.

Philosophers “are always on the outside making stupid remarks,” he said, and the word he pronounced philozawfigal was a mocking epithet, but his influence was philosophical anyway, particularly for younger physicists. They remembered, for example, his Gertrude Stein–like utterance on the continuing nervousness about quantum mechanics—or, more precisely, the “world view that quantum mechanics represents”: It has not yet become obvious to me that there’s no real problem. I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no real problem.

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