How the Hippies Saved Physics

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am
 

How the Hippies Saved Physics
David Kaiser
Blackstone Audio (audiobook)

In 1969 Fritjov Capra was sitting on a beach in Santa Cruz entranced by waves rolling in and out and connecting them to the Dance of Shiva. He saw parallels between quantum theory and central tenets of Eastern belief: interconnectedness and dynamic interactions. The result of that transcendental experience was his seminal Tao of Physics. Capra was part of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, physicists whose brainstorming sessions, writes David Kaiser, 'planted seeds that would eventually flower into today's field of quantum information science'. Members 'saved physics', by, among other things, allowing freewheeling speculation on the kind of philosophical engagement with fundamental physics that had been dampened by the cold war years. Specifically, they popularised Bell's theorem (that quantum objects, having interacted, would always have a connection). We also have them to thank for concepts that would give us things such as quantum encryption (providing the means by which money and election results can be transmitted securely).

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