The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality

Basic. Oct. 2017. 336p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780465097586. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780465097593. SCI
Physicists Richard Feynman (1918–88) and John Wheeler (1911–2006) tackled the greatest philosophical questions: How did the universe begin? Will it end? What is time? They also wrestled with weighty moral questions around the Manhattan Project and the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Halpern (Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat) interweaves these stories with those of Feynman's and Wheeler's personal lives to show who they were and how their minds worked. The practical Feynman sought simply "to find a set of [testable] rules which would agree with the behavior of nature," while the comparatively more speculative Wheeler strove to discover the fundamental components of the cosmos and their organizing principles. Their dynamic led to much progress and recognition, including Feynman's sharing with Wheeler the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics. While readers without a quantum physics background might find parts of the book to be overly technical, Halpern generally paints an evocative picture of the tension between cooperation and competition felt by researchers at the cutting edge.
VERDICT For those interested in the histories of physics, astronomy, and/or cosmology.
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