|Primers in Quantum Physics
|Albert, David Z.|
|Quantum Mechanics and
Univ. Press. (Cambridge
- Primarily recommended for chapter 1, which goes
through the measurement effect (superpositions) in rigorous detail. Then
the book becomes much
less accessible as Mr. Albert tries to clue us in to scientific terminology and discourse.
Very valuable if you can fight your way through it.
|Feynman, Richard P.||Q.E.D.: The Strange Theory
of Light and Matter. Princeton
Univ. Press. (Princeton
- Feynman is a terrific explainer. The only drawback to
this book is that Feynman invented his own QM. Other physicists appreciate Feynman's approach, but they don't speak the same language.
|Gribbin, John.||Schrödinger's Kittens and the
Search for Reality. Little
Brown & Co. (New York
|Gribbin, John.||In Search of Schrödinger's
Cat: Quantum Physics and
Reality. Bantam Doubleday
Dell. (New York 1985). |
- Gribbin is a good popularizer of science. The text is
clear and he does a good job of laying out the field with
its conceptual problems and ongoing issues.
|Herbert, Nick.||Quantum Reality: Beyond the
New Physics. Anchor Books.
(New York 1985).|
- Herbert is a character, but this book is a terrific primer
in QM. Herbert has a knack for clarity and choosing the
right examples to illustrate.
|Pagels, Heinz R.||The Cosmic Code: Quantum
Physics as the Language of
Nature . (out of print, but
try to get a copy at the library
or here through Amazon.com)|
- Pagels (yes, husband of Elaine) did a great job of laying
out the philosophical issues of QM and he has the best grasp of QM as information, i.e, the "language of nature." Shame it's out of print. Tragically died in a
mountaineering accident in the late '80s.
|Polkinghorne, J.C.||The Quantum World.
Princeton Science Library.
- Polkinghorne, the physicist-turned-priest, sticks pretty
much to the science in this volume. The print is small,
but it is worth the read. Primarily characterized by
extreme caution in making any statement.
|Wheeler, J. and W. Zurek,
eds.||Quantum Theory and
Univ. Press. (Princeton
1983) (out of print, but try
to get a copy at the library or
here through Amazon.com)|
- A good source book for the measurement problem. And
as Feynman puts it, the measurement problem is the
central mystery of quantum mechanics. Wheeler's point
of view, well stated by himself and Wigner, is that consciousness is intimately
connected to measurement. Other viewpoints included.
|Zukav, Gary.||The Dancing Wu Li Masters:
An Overview of the New
Physics. Bantam Doubleday
Dell (New York 1979).|
- Zukav's book is a must mention because it was one of
the early popular expositions of the difficulties of
quantum reality. The writing is clear and he has done a
good job of setting out the problem. On the other hand,
he wants to find an answer in Eastern mysticism but
never comes to a conclusion in this regard.
Books Making Some Connection Between Computer Science and Physics
|Siegfried, Tom.||The Bit and the Pendulum:
How the New Physics of
Information Is Revolutionizing
Science, John Wiley & Sons
- New from a journalist and science editor. "Information has become something much more
fundamental to the workings of the world. 'Information
is real,' Siegfried explains. 'Information is physical.'
... In general it comes down to the radically simple
notion that the universe, at its deepest levels, is made
not of matter and energy but of bits. ... [R]eality, in
some increasingly meaningful sense, is information."
A New Kind of Science.
Wolfram Media. (May 2002).|
- Wolfram has written a terrific primer on CA (see
below), and he should be able to explain the connection
to physics. This one is due out
September 2000 some time in 2001
2002, IT'S HERE!! RELEASED AS OF MAY 14, 2002!!
- Collected reviews at ANKOS_reviews.html.
The buzz has it that 1) Wolfram has explained very clearly how complexity as
great as what we observe can arise from the utterly simple rules of cellular
automata computer architecture; 2) Wolfram proposes a Fredkin-like
refocusing for all of science, grokking the idea that the study of physics is the study
of a computer program; 3) other physicists are resisting the idea because
they are unconvinced that a computer can accomplish the phenomena we
observe; and 4) Wolfram's egomania is so apparent that it distracts from the
Logic: Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science.
Springer Verlag. (1999).|
Svozil is the primo exponent of
physics-as-computer-simulation. His analysis of quantum behaviors is
right on target, allowing for consideration of all possibilities in
computer architecture including the one with which we are most familiar: a
program designed for user interaction.
Primers in Computer Science and Cellular Automata
|Eck, David J.||The Most Complex Machine:
A Survey of Computers and
Computing. A.K. Peters
(May 2000 paperback).||
- A wonderful exploration of computers from the wires
upward. When you finish this, you will understand
how things work in the bowels of the machine, and
why you never have to think about what goes on inside
a computer unless you want to.
|Feynman, Richard P.||The Feynman Lectures on
Computation. Perseus Books
Group (July 2000 paperback).|
- I said it before, Feynman is a great explainer. This
book, from lectures delivered in the '80s, explains the foundation and sets out the agenda
for what has come since. Remember, Fredkin studied
with Feynman (physics), and Feynman studied with Fredkin (computers).
|Toffoli, Tommaso and
Norman Margolus.||Cellular Automata Machines:
A New Environment for
Modeling. MIT Press (1987).|
- Toffoli and Margolus worked with Fredkin, so they
know the same stuff. They haven't fallen in with his
Finite Nature hypothesis (at least, if they have they're
not out of the closet), but they write a lot more than
Fredkin ever will. Good stuff, you can follow it if you
give it some effort.
|Wolfram, Stephen.||Cellular Automata and
- Wolfram knows a heck of a lot about computers (he
wrote Mathematica, the industry-standard mathematical
modeling software), and he writes well. This is a good
primer and source book on cellular automata.
|Wachowski, Larry and Andy Wachowski, screenplay & dirs.||
The Matrix, Warner Bros. (1999).
- Rated R for Hollywood-style extravagant violence. If you like action flicks, this is one of the best. But that's not why I recommend it.
The first half of the movie is a good introduction to the concept of living in a world that seems entirely real, yet turns out to be a computer simulation. The implicit metaphysical position is that we are users, i.e., independently conscious beings interacting with the programming.
The environmentalist-inflected moral of the story is so phony it doesn't even distract. The second half ... well, the second half is what
sells -- a-and it's really well done! The biggest drawback is that the messianic imagery is so confused it actually could distract.
|Galouye, Daniel (book, Simulacron 3);
Rusnak, Josef (screenplay & dir.)||
The Thirteenth Floor, Columbia Tri-Star (1999).
- Rated R for some suggestive scenes, as well as some violence. Hollywood has to have something to sell other than philosophy, but for the most part this is a thriller on the theme of computer-generated worlds. The implicit metaphysical position is that we are subroutines, with our consciousness emerging from the programming. Unlike The Matrix, this movie doesn't try all that hard to answer the questions it raises; to the extent it does, there is much to be debated.