Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective

Synopsis

In Nature Loves to Hide, physicist Shimon Malin takes readers on a fascinating tour of quantum theory--one that turns to Western philosophical thought to clarify this strange yet inescapable description of the nature of reality. Malin translates quantum mechanics into plain English, explaining its origins and workings against the backdrop of the famous debate between Niels Bohr and the skeptical Albert Einstein. Then he moves on to build a philosophical framework that can account for the quantum nature of reality. He draws out the linkage between the concepts of Neoplatonism and the more recent process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Writing with broad humanistic insight and deep knowledge of science, and using delightful conversation with fictional astronauts Peter and Julie to explain more difficult concepts, Shimon Malin offers a profound new understanding of the nature of reality--one that shows a deep continuity with aspects of our Western philosophical tradition going back 2,500 years, and that feels more deeply satisfying, and truer, than the clockwork universe of Newton.

Excerpt

Decades ago, when I was a junior in college, I took a course in quantum mechanics and fell in love with it. I spent long nights trying to decipher Paul Dirac's book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, sometimes spending hours over a single page. I marveled at the depth of insights it contained and felt a great mystery there. Although I gained a working knowledge of quantum mechanics rather quickly, I felt that only a small part of the mystery was accessible to me. This was the beginning of a lifelong engagement. For the next forty years I continued to investigate this mystery. the results of my research were published in professional journals and reported in international conferences. Until now, however, I limited my communications to professional circles.

This book was written for a general audience. Its theme is the insights provided by the quantum theory about the nature of reality: If, as Heraclitus said twenty‐ five centuries ago, "Nature loves to hide," what secrets can quantum mechanics help us uncover?

"Nature loves to hide." This statement resonates in us, as it did in the ancient Greeks. Behind the display of phenomena there is a hidden reality. But what is this hidden reality? What is its relationship with the sensory world? Do we have a world-view that can encompass both the hidden and manifest aspects of nature?

Seven hundred years ago these questions would have been answered by Dante's vision. It provided the Western mind with a comprehensive world-view, integrating the various aspects of the universe into one magnificent whole, a whole in which we humans played an organic and central role. One hundred years ago these questions would have been answered by a Newtonian "clockwork universe," a model of a universe which is completely mechanical. Everything that happens has been predetermined by the laws of nature and by the state of the universe in the distant past. the freedom one feels in regard to one's actions, even in regard to the movements of one's body, is an illusion.

The world-view expressed by Dante, as well as the Newtonian one, is complete and coherent. There were times in the history of Western civilization, however, when no coherent and comprehensive world-view was in existence, times when the old world-view had collapsed and a new one had not yet been found.

Dante's cosmology collapsed in the middle of the sixteenth century with the advent of the Copernican revolution. the Copernican revolution was troubling for the Western mind not only because it demolished Dante's paradigm but also . . .

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