Sex, Drugs and Quantum Physics

David Kaisers Buch „How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival“ hört sich definitiv wie etwas an, das ich lesen muss. Es geht um Hippie-Physiker auf LSD, die in den 70ern Quantenverschränkung mit Parapsychologie unter einen Hut bringen wollten. Ich hab' mir das Ding grade auf den Kindle geladen.

Aus dem Review im Wall Street Journal: Merry-Prankster Physicists – Trying to draw a line from LSD to ESP by way of quantum physics. Hey, it was the '70s.

Among the many people in San Francisco taking drugs in the early 1970s were members of a maverick group of Berkeley physicists who called themselves the Fundamental Fysiks Group. The young scientists dabbled in mind-altering drugs as they searched for a quantum-physics-based explanation for such phenomena as telepathy and extrasensory perception. The scientific basis for this quest was the experimental confirmation that once two quantum entities (such as electrons) have interacted with one another, they remain connected by what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." The connection is technically known as entanglement; if one of the entities is prodded, the other one jumps.

As David Kaiser deftly spells out in "How the Hippies Saved Physics," these physicists based their work on good science, however drug-fogged were their aims. Entanglement is at the heart of today's uncrackable quantum encryption; it makes the "teleporting" of particles over distances of several miles feasible; and entanglement may soon be employed in the production of quantum computers that will make the best contemporary computer look like an abacus.

The effort to harness entanglement is in itself a story worth telling, and Mr. Kaiser tells it very well. But the science is almost secondary to the book's main focus, a romantic tale of these hippie physicists' role in the quantum revolution. No wonder Mr. Kaiser was drawn to the story: It's rare to find quantum physics mentioned in the same breath with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, plus religion (of a sort), shady (but strictly speaking, legal) financial dealings involving a research foundation that spent most of its money on fees for its officers, and a fugitive murderer (a leading member of the group who killed his girlfriend, went on the lam and was convicted in absentia).

Amazon-Partnerlink: How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival