How the Hippies Saved Physics

| April 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

“How the Hippies Saved Physics” is the title of the newest book by David Kaiser. And as you might guess from the cover it’s a very unique book. “How the Hippies Saved Physics” delves into forgotten corners of 20th century history of physics. Author tells the story of important innovations in quantum physics and personalities behind these discoveries back in the early 1970s.

 

Basic Info

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393076369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393076363
  • Average Amazon Customer Review:4.5 out of 5 stars  (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

 

About the Author

David Kaiser is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he teaches in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and the Department of Physics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and he has also received the History of Science Society’s Pfizer Award for his book “Drawing Theories Apart‘”. Other popular works of Kaiser include  “Pedagogy and Practice of Science” (2005) and “Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision” (2010).

Short Review

1970s  was an interesting and hard time for physicists. As Kaiser discuses in the book, funding was cut for many projects and loads of talented physicists struggled to find a job. These circumstances and the  psychedelic new-age ideas of the early 1970s inspired a unique group of physicists called the Fundamental Fysiks Group. This group included professional physicists who had received PhD’s from elite programs. The leading members of the group included Nick Herbert, Jack Sarfatti, Fred Alan Wolf held and others.  Fundamental Fysiks Group held weekly meetings where members discussed philosophical implications of quantum mechanics.

Now I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like any other new age group. But the interesting thing about the Fundamental Fysics Group was that it included talented physicists, who significantly contributed to the development of quantum physics. The most interesting topic  for this unique group was John Bell’s work on quantum mechanics, especially quantum entanglement. As David Kaiser writes in his book – members of the Fundamental Fysiks Group were among the earliest and most prolific authors on Bell’s theorem, dominating worldwide publications on the subject before the topic entered the mainstream.

“How the Hippies Saved Physics” tells the story behind this interesting physics group and the research they did. Kaiser does a great job at exploring this remarkable time, which is often forgotten in the history of physics. Without spoiling it any more I would highly recommend this book, especially for those with the interest in the history of science, as the topic is truly unique.

Also check out this interview with David Kaiser :

 

Links:

  1. David Kaiser’s website
  2. Buy the book on Amazon (hardcover and kindle editions):

 

 

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