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Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum…
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Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2021; vuoden 2021 painos)

Tekijä: Carlo Rovelli (Tekijä), Erica Segre (Kääntäjä), Simon Carnell (Kääntäjä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
5862240,814 (3.81)15
"One of the world's most renowned theoretical physicists, Carlo Rovelli has entranced millions of readers with his singular perspective on the cosmos. In Helgoland, Rovelli examines the enduring enigma of quantum theory. The quantum world Rovelli describes is as beautiful as it is unnerving. Helgoland is a treeless island in the North Sea where the 21-year-old Werner Heisenberg first developed quantum theory, setting off a century of scientific revolution. Full of alarming ideas (ghost waves, distant objects that seem to be magically connected, cats that appear both dead and alive), quantum physics has led to countless discoveries and technological advancements. Today our understanding of the world is based on this theory, yet it is still profoundly mysterious. As scientists and philosophers continue to fiercly debate the theory's meaning, Rovelli argues that its most unsettling contradictions can be explained by seeing the world as fundamentally made of relationships, not substances. We and everything around us exist only in our interactions with one another. This bold idea suggests new directions for understanding the structure of reality and even the nature of consciousness. Rovelli makes learning about quantum mechanics an almost psychedelic experience. Shifting our perspective once again, he takes us on a riveting journey through the universe so we can better understand our place in it"--… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:jemisonreads
Teoksen nimi:Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution
Kirjailijat:Carlo Rovelli (Tekijä)
Muut tekijät:Erica Segre (Kääntäjä), Simon Carnell (Kääntäjä)
Info:Riverhead Books (2021), 256 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):****
Avainsanoja:listened-to-audible, science-nature

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Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution (tekijä: Carlo Rovelli) (2021)

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englanti (18)  italia (3)  hollanti (1)  Kaikki kielet (22)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 22) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
My dear friend Jim sent me this 2nd book by Carlo Rovelli on Quantum Mechanics, and I began it with a sense of enchantment. It’s curious reading about something you don’t understand and, just as you find something to hang on to, you are reminded by the author that it’s incomprehensible.

When quite young I recall being entranced by Zeno’s dichotomy paradox, understood by me as an arrow in flight. Its passage through space and time can be divided into mathematical fractions - infinitely. So, the paradox is that it can never reach its target. It seemed to me, and it still does, that this paradox demonstrated that mathematics is a closed system of reasoning that breaks down at certain points. Quantum mechanics feels like another closed system where paradoxes abound. For Zeno’s dichotomy paradox, Rovelli asserts, ‘There is no infinite in going towards the small: things cannot get infinitely smaller.’(p.95). Even though the Heisenberg uncertainty principle prohibits infinite points of measurement on which the paradox relies, I don’t understand why he can assert this. Much as I would love to have my sense of reality turned upside down and see the world afresh, I’ve always mistrusted mathematics, and I mistrust the reasoning used to prove the various layers of counter-intuitive quantum abstraction.
But between our mental maps and reality there is the same distance as between the charts of sailors and the fury of the waves crashing against the cliffs, where the gulls hover and cry.

So, apart from some purple prose, what can a reader take away from this lovely little book with its ribbon page marker?

At times I wondered if Carlo Rovelli is talking to my inner failed hermit/recluse when he says it’s our interconnections with everything or anything that in quantum-land bring us into being or existence. Without interaction there is nothing.
there are no properties outside of interactions. p. 70
In the reality of nature, health is intimately related to connectivity. Isolation is anathema. The Buddhist Mountain recluse is in fact deeply connected to the granular emptiness of the universe. Whereas the isolated city apartment dweller; disconnected from nature and humanity, withers away in lonely despair.

However, Rovelli warns against such inferences although he introduces us to Nāgārjuna, the 2nd century Indian Buddhist thinker. The little I’ve read of Nāgārjuna suggests that his poetic kaons are as incomprehensible as quantum mechanics. But clearly this is my own failing. Despite the fine writing, I couldn’t take much away from this book. But thanks anyway Jim.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
Neither a lead-you-by-the-nose introduction to quantum physics nor an in-depth exploration of this strangest of sciences, Carlo Rovelli's Helgoland sits uneasily in a sort of halfway house between the two. Consequently, it is a difficult book to assess or recommend, and can perhaps best be described as its venerated author's personal and idiosyncratic commentary on the subject.

The book begins by telling us the story of how quantum theory was first birthed, beginning with Werner Heisenberg's breakthrough on the titular island of Heligoland. This part of Rovelli's book is lucidly written and, despite serving as your typical popular-science introduction to quantum mechanics, proves very engrossing. By rooting our understanding of the subject in the real characters of the time, rather than in abstract concepts and equations, Rovelli does the reader a great service. By providing a narrative of Heisenberg's discoveries, and those of his counterparts, Rovelli shows (in a way that an abstract discussion could not) how 7 x 9 is not the same as 9 x 7 in quantum physics, to give just one example (pg. 33 – it is due to probabilities). These chapters are Rovelli and Helgoland at their best.

However, the book then moves into the more abstract discussion of where our understanding of quantum science currently stands, and on this Rovelli is very opinionated. This can result in a very spirited read at times, such as his dismissal of the Many Worlds theory for taking Schrödinger's cat analogy too literally (pg. 52), and some interesting perspectives. Rovelli does well to provide an overview of the complexity of the quantum realm, while at the same time pointing out there are not 'levels' exactly, that the mechanics are all interconnected, and the separation into levels is only how we approximate the reality (pg. 156).

Rovelli's understanding of quantum physics, and consequently the course he follows in his Helgoland commentary, is that it is "the way in which one part of nature manifests itself to any other single part of nature" (pg. 67). This is a perfectly acceptable definition. The school of thought he bangs the drum for is that reality is best described as "events that weave a web of interactions… Everything is what it is only with respect to something else" (pg. 166). Again, this is a stimulating approach to the subject, and perhaps even the correct one: Rovelli points out that we have no problem recognising such "relational thinking" at the core of biology and chemistry (pg. 121).

Where Rovelli errs in Helgoland is in presenting his commentaries and his opinions (however well-informed) as incontrovertible fact. It is one thing to critique the Many Worlds theory, and others, but quite another to claim, as Rovelli does in one remarkable passage on page 165, that his own interpretation – which makes claims not only for quantum science but for reality and Being itself – is not the "latest crazy speculation" but the only possible conclusion: "rational, empirical… whose reliability is beyond doubt" (pg. 165). Considering he starts Helgoland by claiming he wrote the book "primarily for those who are unfamiliar with quantum physics" (pg. 3), it is disconcerting for him to make such claims for his own pet theories. Books of popular science ought to be more circumspect, less willing to take advantage of an unequipped, and consequently uncritical, audience.

One must say that it is not really sleight-of-hand on Rovelli's part; his is an error rather than a breach of ethics. Rovelli is not quite the poet he transformed into occasionally in The Order of Time, but he is a charming and enthusiastic guide throughout Helgoland, and it is this enthusiasm which leads him to claim certainty where he should perhaps only claim precedence. While criticising others for squeezing quantum discoveries into "the canons of metaphysical prejudice" (pg. 117), he fails to recognise his own, quoting dubiously from Marxist political theorists and tamely from ancient Buddhists, and delivering big-brain takes like "introspection is the worst instrument of inquiry" (pg. 154). Like some sort of Dawkins acolyte, he describes the idea of a God or out-of-universe force as "utterly implausible" and "ghastly" without elaborating (pp157-8), while also indulging that irritating modern affectation of referring to God as "She" rather than 'He' (pg. 84) – a minor quibble, but something which is always a conscious manipulation of language.

Despite the above, and other dismissals of the spiritual and the metaphysical, Rovelli ends the book with an odd summing-up that invokes the "world spirit" that speaks to us (pg. 168). One may dismiss such inconsistencies as idiosyncrasies, but they remind us that Rovelli's book does not have the unassailable rigour he claims for it. He claims that his relational view of quantum physics provides a "freedom, happiness, lightness" in showing that our lives are insignificant ephemera (pg. 167), simply because he believes this, failing to even recognise – let alone address – that many others would see such an impersonal destruction of the individual self as the path to nihilism. Dismissive of philosophy and of contrary schools of quantum science, Rovelli doesn't seem to recognise that there are deeper implications (conceptual, philosophical and scientific) of the claims he has made, deeper proofs required. Approach Helgoland by all means, but be sure to do so with the recognition that it is a commentary, a considered opinion, rather than the holistic pop-science introduction it claims to be. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jul 23, 2023 |
«Siamo fatti della stessa sostanza dei sogni, e la nostra breve vita è circondata da un sonno».

(194)

Se la stranezza della teoria ci confonde, ci apre anche prospettive nuove per capire la realtà. Una realtà più sottile di quella del materialismo semplicistico delle particelle nello spazio. Una realtà fatta di relazioni, prima che di oggetti.

(13)



Il nome della teoria quantistica viene proprio da «quanti», cioè «grani». I fenomeni quantistici rivelano un aspetto granulare del mondo, a piccolissima scala. La granularità non riguarda solo l’energia: è estremamente generale.

(46)



Perché allora io vedo – per esempio – solo il gatto sveglio? La risposta è che io, ora, sono uno solo dei due Carlo. In un mondo parallelo, egualmente reale, egualmente concreto, c’è una copia di me che vede il gatto dormire. Ecco dunque perché il gatto può essere sveglio e insieme addormentato, ma se lo guardo vedo una sola cosa: perché se lo guardo mi sdoppio anch’io.

(68)



La chiarezza concettuale della fisica classica è stata spazzata dai quanti. La realtà non è come la descrive la fisica classica.

(82)



Il mondo è un gioco prospettico, come di specchi che esistono solo nel riflesso di uno nell’altro.

(95)



«Mentre prima pensavamo che le proprietà di ogni oggetto fossero determinate anche se trascuriamo le interazioni in corso fra questo oggetto e gli altri, la fisica quantistica ci mostra che l’interazione è parte inseparabile dei fenomeni. La descrizione non ambigua di qualunque fenomeno richiede di includere tutti gli oggetti coinvolti nell’interazione in cui il fenomeno si manifesta».

(142)



Se nulla ha esistenza in sé, tutto esiste solo in dipendenza da qualcosa d’altro, in relazione a qualcosa d’altro. Il termine tecnico usato da Nāgārjuna per descrivere la mancanza di esistenza indi pendente è «vacuità» (śūnyatā): le cose sono «vuote» nel senso che non hanno realtà autonoma, esistono grazie a, in funzione di, rispetto a, dalla prospettiva di qualcosa d’altro.

(151)





( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
Carlo Rovelli is quickly becoming my favorite physicist writer. His latest covers quantum physics from a philosophical context. Physics and philosophy are a natural match and Rovelli's writing makes the science approachable. That said, if you want a more approachable read, try Brian Greene. More approachable still would be The Big Bang Theory (it gets more right about physics than Cheers does about bars).

My favorite part of reading a book like this is that it gives me more ideas for further reading. For instance, I knew about Schrodinger's Cat but I didn't about his penchant for relationships. With his wife and pregnant lover in the same household, he still found time to impregnate two of his students.

Definitely read if you love physics and/or philosophy. Don't read if your idea of a physicist is Neil deGrasse (high) Tyson. Tyson is proof that you can be technically right at the same time you are deeply wrong. ( )
  Gravewriter | Jul 22, 2023 |
This really is a book of two halves for me. In the early portions he tries to described Quantum Mechanics, both its history and how it came to be. I found this intensely frustrating. As a student, I studied this and all this section did is prove to me that my brain has addled with the passing of the years. I found this rather depressing and, potentially, rather too brief. As if you can ever explain the history of 20th century science in 50 pages. The chapters on how people interpret quantum mechanics, the many & hidden worlds concepts I did find interesting.
From here he changes tack and it becomes all rather more philosophical. It's here that I stopped feeling frustrated with the book and my shortcomings and it all became more interesting to my current self. It also became a more personal book, relating far more to his view of the world (and the references become more of him than previously, which I found a little self promoting).
I'm honestly not sure who this book is written for. As a former scientist, I was aware of most of the ideas and could follow the argument, but to someone with less of a grasp of quantum mechanics, this is likely to go above their heads. For someone who works in the field, it will be too basic. If he's writing for former students of the subject, that's not exactly a wide field. The more philosophical chapters ate probably more open, but you have to wade through the detail to get to it.
In terms of style, it's readable, but he has a penchant for ellipsis that should have been curbed. ( )
  Helenliz | Jul 19, 2023 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 22) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
In principio non c’è l’atomo ma Platone. A dirlo non è un filosofo, idealista e metafisico. Ma un fisico, anzi il fisico che avviò la rivoluzione scientifica più radicale di ogni tempo: la fisica quantistica. È Werner Heisenberg, premio Nobel per la fisica, che prima di entrare nel magico e scientifico mondo della fisica, confutò la teoria degli atomi del filosofo Democrito con il Timeo di Platone. E scoprì con il filosofo delle idee celesti che all’inizio non c’era l’atomo ma la simmetria, oggi diremmo la relazione, l’armonia, la corrispondenza tra tutte le cose. Poi, dopo fervidi studi e accese dispute, a 23 anni, nell’Isola sacra del Mare del Nord, Helgoland – dove per Goethe poteva essere sperimentato “lo Spirito del mondo” – quella sua intuizione originaria assunse il rigore della fisica.

Helgoland è il titolo di un testo uscito da poco (Adelphi, pp.223) del fisico Carlo Rovelli e racconta in modo avvincente la nascita e lo sviluppo della teoria dei quanti. Rovelli non è un divulgatore ma un affabulatore scientifico, di professione fisico puro, scrive best seller e traduce scoperte e trattati scientifici in miti fashion, favolosi ma rigorosi. I fisici, e gli astrofisici in particolare, sono le nuove star – e mai definizione di stelle fu più pertinente – nel firmamento del sapere. Hanno preso il posto dei teologi, dei filosofi, degli ideologi. Ma se gratti sotto la fisica riappare Platone, la filosofia, il pensiero dell’origine.

A raccontarci dell’incontro di Heisenberg con Platone non è Rovelli ma un letterato esule romeno, Vintila Horia, autore di romanzi tra cui Dio è nato in esilio, morto nel ’92. In un libro del 1971, Viaggio ai centri della Terra (ed. Mediterranee), Horia dialogò con Heisenberg. Una volta me ne parlò a cena e benché ormai anziano, si infervorava come un bambino, gli brillavano gli occhi a raccontare di Heisenberg e del suo principio d’Indeterminazione, perché vedeva le implicazioni meta-fisiche, nel pensiero, nelle visioni del mondo e nel sacro. E insieme la sconfitta del materialismo, del determinismo e delle loro derivazioni. Le prospettive che apre la fisica quantistica sono infinite, scriveva Horia sulla scia di Heisenberg. E leggendo ora il libro di Rovelli se ne ha suggestiva conferma.

Non proverò nemmeno a riassumervi il testo di Rovelli, brillante e allusivo, e se mi inoltrassi nei meandri della fisica, mi perderei sicuramente nei suoi abissi, vista l’enciclopedica ignoranza in materia. Ma proverò, assumendomi ogni colpa e sollevando l’autore, a tradurre il nocciolo di quelle osservazioni in spunti per una visione del mondo.

Dunque, qual è l’essenza, il cuore, l’effetto principale della rivoluzione quantica sulla concezione della nostra vita? Che tutto è fatto di relazioni, compreso quel che chiamiamo io, e ogni attività spirituale, culturale, politica ma anche fisica e corporale. L’io si vanifica, non è una sostanza ma un processo mentale, una rete di sinapsi, anzi “un ricamo delicato e complesso della rete di relazioni, di cui è costituita la realtà”. Al centro di tutto c’è il vuoto, come direbbero i maestri d’oriente; ma in quel vuoto fluttuano energie e corrispondenze (la simmetria platonica); gli enti non hanno una loro autonoma entità ma sono effimeri nodi di questa rete. L’interconnessione di tutte le cose, riassume Rovelli traducendo l’espressione usata per i quanti, entanglement. E qui, dopo il viaggio nelle regioni ardite e straniere della fisica, mi sono sentito nuovamente a casa. A fare la stessa scoperta, arrivando da ben altri percorsi, fu infatti un filosofo platonico del terzo secolo, a me caro. “Tutto è cospirante”, scrive Plotino nel terzo libro delle Enneadi, nell’individuo come nell’intero universo. È un pensiero magico, all’apparenza, come la famosa equazione di Paul Dirac: le cose che sono state una volta a contatto continuano a influenzarsi a distanza, anche di chilometri o anni luce, dopo che il contatto fisico è cessato. Magia delle telecomunicazioni. Prima di lui lo diceva Plotino. Per spiegarsi, Rovelli ricorre infine non alla fisica ma a La tempesta di Shakespeare e alla celebre frase di Prospero: “Siamo fatti della stessa stoffa dei sogni”. Siamo vaghi e ineffabili.

Rovelli non concede nulla alla filosofia, alla teologia, allo spirito, anche se l’ultima parola del suo scritto è Mistero, con la emme maiuscola. La stessa che chiude il primo capitolo. In principio è il Mistero, alla fine è il Mistero. Nel mezzo è la ricerca, la fisica, lo studio dei come, senza i perché. La stessa teoria dei quanti è da lui ritenuta “l’allucinazione meglio in armonia col mondo”.

Prima di Heisenberg e di Niels Bohr, c’è Einstein. Per anni, la sua teoria della relatività generale è stata collegata erroneamente al relativismo generale dell’epoca. In realtà la relatività è il contrario della variabilità, della soggettività e del soggettivismo a cui induce il relativismo: la teoria della relatività pone invece le invarianze, stabilisce rapporti tra spazio e tempo, di cui scorge la curvatura. La relatività non relativizza il tutto ma lo pone in relazione universale, lo intreccia in una rete fluida di nessi. Per Rovelli la scoperta dei quanti induce al “pensiero relazionale”. Cosa cambia per la nostra mente, per la nostra vita? Tutto, tanto, poco, niente, si potrà rispondere. Ma il cosmo si rivela consonante, simmetrico; è ordine e bellezza, direbbe Baudelaire, è magica armonia, meraviglia. Lo stupore di trovarci senza l’io dentro una favola universale chiamata realtà.

MV, Panorama, n.40 (2020)
 

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"One of the world's most renowned theoretical physicists, Carlo Rovelli has entranced millions of readers with his singular perspective on the cosmos. In Helgoland, Rovelli examines the enduring enigma of quantum theory. The quantum world Rovelli describes is as beautiful as it is unnerving. Helgoland is a treeless island in the North Sea where the 21-year-old Werner Heisenberg first developed quantum theory, setting off a century of scientific revolution. Full of alarming ideas (ghost waves, distant objects that seem to be magically connected, cats that appear both dead and alive), quantum physics has led to countless discoveries and technological advancements. Today our understanding of the world is based on this theory, yet it is still profoundly mysterious. As scientists and philosophers continue to fiercly debate the theory's meaning, Rovelli argues that its most unsettling contradictions can be explained by seeing the world as fundamentally made of relationships, not substances. We and everything around us exist only in our interactions with one another. This bold idea suggests new directions for understanding the structure of reality and even the nature of consciousness. Rovelli makes learning about quantum mechanics an almost psychedelic experience. Shifting our perspective once again, he takes us on a riveting journey through the universe so we can better understand our place in it"--

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