By Chet Yarbrough
The Age of Entanglement
By Louisa Gilder
Narrated by Walter Dixon
In the mind of a three-year old, string can become tangled so string theory and The Age of Entanglement must have a relationship? Louisa Gilder fails to include string theory in her book about entanglement but she suggests that matter and energy relate in ways that may make the butterfly effect a real as well as imagined truth.
Physics is presently a mathematician’s art as much as science, particularly with the advent of quantum theory. As a non-mathematician, science’s pursuit of physics is fascinating because it tickles imagination. It offers insight to the mystery of how we got here, who we are, and where we are going.
Physics, pre- and post- Einstein, is a pursuit for the keys of the universe. Einstein’s E=mc2 is a turning point. It focuses attention on unified field theory, the thought that there is a single formula that explains everything about everything. Physics progresses from particles to waves to strings in its effort to unravel the key to a door of the universe’s beginnings and endings.
The biggest gripe one has about The Age of Entanglement is that it brings the listener to 2006 without explaining how string theory relates to entanglement when they seem to have some important relationship. Gilder chooses not to include string theory (postulated in 1986 by Green and Schwarz) in her exploration of entanglement.
Aside from that gripe, this is an enjoyable exploration of the world of physics; its theorists and experimentalists. The exploration is made better by the quality of Walter Dixon’s narration.
Gilder cleverly delves into correspondence between physics legends like Einstein, Bohr, and later, John Bell and his contemporaries. Even though Bell is not Einstein’s and Bohr’s contemporary, Bell is a critical change agent in the ongoing argument begun by Einstein and Bohr about Quantum Theory. Bell changes quantum theory argument from a question of “if” to a question of “how” Quantum Theory is a valid construct of Physics.
Gilder reveals the humanness of the scientific community. She exposes the frustration and joy of discovery among scientists that think about the unknown and experiment with the unseen. The Age of Entanglement reveals the tensions that are created by strong beliefs and the utter devastation and human depression caused when beliefs are refuted by reproducible experiment.
Along the way Gilder explains entanglement; i.e. the idea that one minute quanta of existence affects other faraway elements of existence.