How the Hippies Saved Physics
Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival
W. W. Norton 2012
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ScienceNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books Network April 2, 2014 Carla Nappi
David Kaiser‘s recent book is one of the most enjoyable and informative books on the history of science that you’ll read, full-stop. The deservedly award-winning How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W.W. Norton, 2012) takes readers into the “hazy, bong-filled excesses of the 1970s New Age movement” in order to explain and reveal the origins of some of the most transformative breakthroughs in twentieth-century quantum physics. Kaiser shows how the roots of quantum information science, a field that has given us the technology behind electronic bank transfers and information encryption systems, emerged from a rich soil made up of equal parts playful speculation, sophisticated calculation, and philosophical reflection, all entwined in the practices of the Fundamental Fysiks Group in the 1970s. It is a story that pays careful tribute to Einstein andThe Dancing Wu Li Masters, psychedelic mushrooms and the double-slit experiment, opera and Bell’s Theorem, quantum entanglement and Uri Geller. It is also a story of transformations in what it has looked, meant, and felt like to be a physicist since World War II. Whether you come to How the Hippies Saved Physics primarily for the hippies or the physics, you will come away with a sense of awe both for the brilliance of these tricksters and for the deft hand that Kaiser has brought to creating a thoroughly enjoyable account of their lives, work, and legacy.