Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science
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Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  683 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” challenged centuries of scientific understanding, placed him in direct opposition to Albert Einstein, and put Niels Bohr in the middle of one of the most heated debates in scientific history. Heisenberg’s theorem stated that there were physical limits to what we could know about sub-atomic particles; this “uncertainty” would have...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Anchor (first published February 20th 2007)
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Mahmood Almutasim

لم يسبق لي أن قرأت أو سمعت عن كتاب لتاريخ العلم و العلماء, والصورة النمطية المرسومة في ذهني للعلم و التي تكونت نتيجة أسلوب التدريس العقيم في المدرسة و الجامعة توحي بأن العالم عبارة عن شيء شبيه بمسخ غير إنساني يقضي وقته كله في البحث و التجريب و أن العالم هو عالم فقط يتحول لشخص عادي أو أقل من عادي حالما يخرج خارج وسطه المفضل, هذا الكتاب و بأسلوبه المشوق و السلس يعطي فكرة -و إن كانت غير واضحة تماما- عن حياة العلماء و كيف أن العنصر الإنساني من شغف و صراع و نضال كان حاسما في تكون العلم الذي بين أيدين...more
Alyazi
تحدث " مبدأ الريبة " عن لايقينة العلم و سيّر علماء الفيزياء النظرية في ألمانيا - خاصة - وصراعهم المحموم لإثبات ميكانكا الكم بطريقة حتمية .. رغم ما أثبتته لهم التجارب من عشوائية و فوضى الإلكترونات . فلقد كان السؤال الأكثر إلحاحاً و الأكثر جدلاً حين ذاك هو : عن من الذي يجعل الإلكترون يقرر خطوته التالية .. ما الذي يجعله يقفز و يدور و يتفاعل و يتحرك ؟ ما السبب الذي يدفعه لذلك ، لماذا لا يخضع هذا الشيء الصغير لقوانيبن الطبيعة المتعارف عليها ، لم يصر على معاندتنا و يثير الحيرة في نفوسنا؟ كنت متحمسة لأ...more
Clif Hostetler
This book is a history of the development of the uncertainty principle (a.k.a. Heisenberg principle). It explains the interaction of Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohr (as well as the contributions of many others) in the development of this principle. The book makes the history clear, but I'm still trying to get my mind around the principle. The principle applies to atomic and subatomic particles, and basically says that it's impossible to know location and velocity (or momentum) at the same time.

It...more
Byron Miller
I read this book as if I was watching a movie in my head. This book has little to do with the complex formula of Quantum Mechanics but everything to do about the complex characters that created the concepts that led to Quantum Mechanics.

I was slightly amused to finish the book and feel I had a better understanding of how Quantum Mechanics came about but now i was more lost than ever as to the people that made it so. Its a lot to wrap your head around when your continually blown away how people...more
Al Grey
ساعدني الكتاب جداً مع منهجي في الكيمياء و أيضا الرياضيات والفيزياء طيل مرحلة الثانوية .. من الجميل أن تتوقف مرة عن التأفف من القوانين التي يدسونها بالمناهج الدراسية و تبدأ بقراءة قصة كفاح العلماء لإيجاد قانون واحد منها و كم استغرق منهم ذلك ..

كتاب تاريخي يتحدث عن الكثير .. بالأساس نظرية الكم .. بور و هايزنبرج و شرودنجر و آينشتاين و ديراك وكرامر و الحركة البراونية و الكثير جداً .. قضيت معه وقتاً ممتعاً و مفيداً
Hank Mishkoff
I think I liked this book. But I'm not sure.

(Sorry, I can't help it.)

In a futile quest to understand quantum mechanics, I consume every layman's book on the subject that I can find. If you're as obsessed with that mystifying subject as I am -- and if, like me, you lack the serious mathematics and physics background that you'd need to be able to acquire a *real* understanding -- then I think you'll enjoy this book.

"Uncertainty" is more of a history of the milieu from which quantum mechanics spran...more
Noah
I was disappointed. Not completely, but what's the point of a book on Einstein, Heisenberg, et al without the formulas? Where were the scientific formulas? I'm not going to pretend I would have understood them all (ok or even 97% of them), but I was most interested in how they came up with the theories -- and I got the history and some of the science, but none of the specifics. I wanted to see some of those crazy mathematical symbols that are used in NUMB3RS.

I get that the book was written for...more
Faisal
استفدت منه في معرفة كواليس الاكتشافات والنظريات العلمية في مجال ميكانيكا الكم .. والقليل عن سير العلماء المؤثرين في هذا المجال ..
لكن على المستوى العلمي لم أستفد الكثير .. لبساطة الكتاب وصعوبته في الوقت ذاته !!
بساطته في التطرق للأفكار هذا المجال .. وصعوبته في الألفاظ الصعبة والمبهمة بالنسبة لي .. لم أفهم الكثير منها ..
ربما للترجمة دور في ذلك ..
Ghatis Bamussalam
مبدأ الريبة.. او هكذا اراد تسميتة "بور"
كتاب شيق جداًَ و يتحدث عن الصراع الجدلي الأزلي الذي ابتدأ في مطلع القرن الفائت بين جباهذة الفيزياء في المانيا خصوصاً فيما يتعلق بنظرية الكم و محاولة إثباتها رغم عشوائيتها!
الكتاب كُتب بطريقة أدبية شيقة و هذا ما جعلني اكملة لآخرة رغم بعض ما كنت اواجهه بعد فهم بعض اجزاء الكتاب
Gaby
I've had a passing interest in quantum mechanics since high school, and now as a chemistry major with a special interest in nanotechnology I've run into quantum theories a lot. this past quarter I took the second physical chemistry class, and started reading this shortly after we started the quantum section. a lot of the theories I learned about in class were covered in this book, sometimes being mentioned the day it came up in lecture. i was highly interested in the historic view of all of thes...more
Hager Mahdy
قرأت النسخة العربية
Ryan
The early 20th century was by no means an orderly, calm period in the world of theoretical physics. New discoveries in relativity and quantum mechanics were casting increasing doubt on classical physics. Scientists were learning that some phenomena, taking place at the unseeable atomic level, seemed not to be deterministic and predictable, but probabilistic and not so predictable.

Uncertainty provides an informative overview of the major players during this era, and explores the disarray that a c...more
Pierre
قصة نشؤ نظرية "ميكانيكا الكم"، طرق وأساليب العلماء النظرية والتجريبية وكذلك الشخصية في صياغة هذه النظرية. صراع مبدأ الحتمية (السببية) مع مبدأ الريبة (اللايقين) ومحاولة فهم كيف تفكر الجسيمات ومطاردتها. حتى انتهى الأمر بصياغة مبدأ الريبة: (تقيس سرعة الجسيم أو قد تستطيع أن تقيس موضعه غير أنك لا تستطيع أن تنجز المهمتين معاً).
----------------
ميكانيكا الكم: انقسم العلماء في تفسيراتهم إلى أسلوبين الأول ميكانيكا الموجات (طبيعة موجية) في زيورخ والثاني ميكانيكا المصفوفات (معادلات رياضية) في جوتنجن، وهناك...more
Peter
When I was an philosophy undergraduate, I had this annoying itch. I was vaguely dissatisfied that almost none of my philosophy courses addressed the philosophical implications of developments of theoretical physics, particularly quantum mechanics - about which I knew next to nothing but the Heisenberg uncertainty principle somehow trickled down to the (un)conscious of a earnest nineteen-year-old. Growing up, I was distracted, but even if that itch subsided to a degree, it still nagged at me. Thi...more
Robert Delikat
When I give a lecture on patient assessment I start off by saying “Begin your assessment from across the room. You want to first view your patients with as little influence upon them as possible. You know, like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: the process of looking at something changes it.” Then come the deer-in-the-headlight looks from most of my students. That’s perhaps the look that will obtain from many of the readers of this book. Unless you’re a theoretical physicist, taken a class i...more
Seth
I found this narrative of the transition from a deterministic, Newtonian view of the physical world to the statistical probabilities (and uncertainty) of quantum interactions really entertaining. It had much the same feel as James Watson's Double Helix: a sort of clubby, intellectual-but-confused, adversarial-but-friendly atmosphere of early twentieth century science. Towards the end, David Lindley does go off on a minor tangent ranting about other historians of science who see this narrative di...more
Heather Denkmire
I preferred The Age of Entanglement (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50...) for its explanations of the actual physics and for the deep descriptions of the people involved. It was only at around chapter 18 (of 19) of this book that I really felt like it was worth the investment. That isn't to say it wasn't really good. It was very good. It just wasn't a lot of new information, though it was engaging and interesting. But the part that really got me thinking was at the end when there was some d...more
Jennie
Uncertainty> provides a thorough, historical overview of the legendary figures involved in the discovery of quantum mechanics and the bizarre and controversial revelation that the act of observing a particle changes the nature of the thing being observed. This detailed account diagnoses the idiosyncrasies of the key players and recounts the battles and breakthroughs that proved integral to the development and eventual (if decidedly begrudging) acceptance of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle...more
Jim
A very fast, high level read on the origins and development of quantum mechanics, focusing on the people involved. I think the one thing I'll really take from this book is the author's presentation of the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment as something Schrodinger proposed to illustrate the absurdity of an opposing theory, not in support of it (Einstein also proposed this thought experiment, in a slightly different form).

I think there were a total of two equations presented in this book, and...more
Lisa
If you want to read about the science, this is not the book for you- this is the history of the science, specifically the development of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and quantum physics. I liked the beginning, as the author set out the developments in physics that led to the clash between Einstein, who famously had difficulty accepting that randomness and uncertainty might have a place in physics, and the scientists at the forefront of quantum physics who insisted that it did. But as the b...more
Jared Whitefield
I really liked this book. The author did a good job at presenting both sides and recounting history without taking sides or starting opinions.
A.
الجيد في هذا الكتاب أنه منحني اطلاعًا على شخصيات العلماء الذين أسهموا في نظرية الكم وغيرها منها العلوم وكيف أثرت بعض الأحداث العالمية كالحروب وغيرها عليهم.
المعلومات التي أضافها - بالنسبة لي - فيما يختص بنظرية الكم ليست جديدة وقليل منها لم يذكر في كتب غير متخصصة قرأتها من قبل، ولكن أعتقد أن الأمر يرجع إلى صعوبة شرح نظرية الكم المعقدة إلى حدٍ ما لغير المتخصصين، الجميل في الأمر أنني رأيت معلومات كنت أعرفها بوجهة نظر أخرى أكثر إنسانية وواقعية ومحتدمة بالصراع المستمر بين أولئك الذين دافعوا عن الفيزي...more
kate
Overall, an adequate narrative - but really, that's all. I'm still at a loss to believe someone could write a book about the advent of quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle without a single diagram.

Also, I must say I'm amused by the irony of Lindley's ability to write about the uncertainty princinple in so formulaic a manner. Every chapter bears a title that echoes the exact words of one of the scientists quoted within, almost always popping up in its last 2-3 pages. I thought at last...more
Steven
May 04, 2008 Steven rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone interested in physics and how it connects to human consciousness
Clear, lively, and succinct, Lindley's story telling makes Heisenberg's discovery an adventure complete with flesh and blood physicists battling to make their views believed. Combine this with that I finally understand "uncertainty" and I can highly recommend this book.

As a side note, I now can see what makes physicists livid about things like What The Bleep's take wherein the mind changes physical laws. At the same time, I found unnecessary Lindley's last chapter wherein he mocks any references...more
Alex
Promising, but ultimately disappointing. The book paints detailed portraits of Heisenberg and Bohr, and is written at the right level for anyone who didn't venture beyond high-school physics. However, Lindley failed to convey the supposed controversy tied to the breakthrough of the uncertainty principle itself. The conclusion spiraled into a mish-mash of the principle's appearances in the mainstream consciousness, and its near-irrelevance to modern physicists. I am glad to have finished it so I...more
Stephen
It is always humbling to understand just how simplified we have to present the picture of QM in order to fit it into freshpeeps' heads. Some of what we teach is so glossed as to be perilously close to falsehood.

The author also takes some time to address how other disciplines have co-opted the language of QM and indeterminacy without understanding where it comes from and why, leading to misapplication of the ideas. He also points out, rightly in my opinion, that science doesn't operate by the sam...more
Jennifer
An intriguing historical/biographical look at the development of atomic theory, quantum theory and the uncertainty principle. Though primarily historical, I appreciated Lindley's own criticisms concerning the misappropriation by other fields of the uncertainty theory (for example, the literary theory of deconstruction), as though doing so somehow gives a legitimate scientific basis to their aesthetic based analyses.
Michael Ryan
this book stands in relation to physics as art history is to art. I can't remember why I put it on my to-read list. I think perhaps it got a very good review in The Economist.

It is interesting to put some colour on the main players. We learn at school that 'the atom is like this,' and 'Brownian motion is that.' But to follow people devoting their lives to figuring it out, based on what they knew at the time, puts it all in quite a different perspective.
Chris Elkjar
Enjoyable narrative about the birth of quantum mechanics focusing around the personalities and conflicts of the men and women involved rather than the absolutely incomprehensible theory itself. I stand by the concept that anyone who claims to understand quantum mechanics doesn't. However this book does allow people to understand the struggles the theory faced in such a wild (some might even say uncertain) point in the history of science.
Eric
Oct 02, 2008 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who like science and history
I would never want to read a textbook on quantum mechanics because I would never understand it, but I love reading interpretations of what complicated scientific theories like it and relativity mean, and especially about the amazing people who developed them. This book is a clear and engrossing outline of how quantum theory and specifically the uncertainty principle developed, and how it influenced the science community of the day.
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