10 books like Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics

By J.S. Bell,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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What Is Real?

By Adam Becker,

Book cover of What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

Tim Maudlin Author Of Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory

From the list on quantum theory and its history.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy at New York University, but my interests have always fallen at the intersection of physics and philosophy. Unable to commit to just one side or the other, I got a joint degree in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. My fascination with Bell’s Theorem began when I read an article in Scientific American in 1979, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of things ever since. My most recent large project is a Founder and Director of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.

Tim's book list on quantum theory and its history

Discover why each book is one of Tim's favorite books.

Why did Tim love this book?

Becker’s book is the most reliable popular account of the history of quantum theory from 1925 you can find. Many of the common myths about that history are dispelled, and much attention is paid to later figures like Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett, who kept the discussion of foundational issues alive. A good introduction for the general reader.

What Is Real?

By Adam Becker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What Is Real? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favoured practical experiments over philosophical arguments. As a result, questioning the status quo long meant professional ruin. And yet, from the 1920s to today, physicists like John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett persisted in…


Book cover of Quantum Mechanics and Experience

Marc Lange Author Of An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics: Locality, Fields, Energy, and Mass

From the list on the philosophy of physics.

Who am I?

My undergraduate physics textbook asked, “What is an electric field? Is it something real, or is it merely a name for a factor in an equation which has to be multiplied by something else to give the numerical value of the force we measure in an experiment?” Here, I thought, is a good question! But the textbook said that since electromagnetic theory “works, it doesn’t make any difference" what an electric field is! Then it said, "That is not a frivolous answer, but a serious one.” I felt ashamed. But my physics teacher helpfully suggested that I “speak to the philosophers.” I am very pleased that I decided to become one!

Marc's book list on the philosophy of physics

Discover why each book is one of Marc's favorite books.

Why did Marc love this book?

This is the most fun book that has ever been written about the famous philosophical challenges posed by the proper interpretation of quantum mechanics. It is extremely difficult to say what the real world could possibly be like considering that quantum mechanics is so accurate at predicting our observations of it. Albert is a wonderful guide to this problem. His book is genuinely funny and down-to-earth (yes, I mean it!) and it introduces only as much technical and scientific machinery as is absolutely necessary. There is no other quantum mechanics book quite like this one.

Quantum Mechanics and Experience

By David Z. Albert,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Quantum Mechanics and Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The more science tells us about the world, the stranger it looks. Ever since physics first penetrated the atom, early in this century, what it found there has stood as a radical and unanswered challenge to many of our most cherished conceptions of nature. It has literally been called into question since then whether or not there are always objective matters of fact about the whereabouts of subatomic particles, or about the locations of tables and chairs, or even about the very contents of our thoughts. A new kind of uncertainty has become a principle of science.

This book is…


Sneaking a Look at God's Cards

By Giancarlo Ghirardi, Gerald Malsbary (translator),

Book cover of Sneaking a Look at God's Cards: Unraveling the Mysteries of Quantum Mechanics

Tim Maudlin Author Of Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory

From the list on quantum theory and its history.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy at New York University, but my interests have always fallen at the intersection of physics and philosophy. Unable to commit to just one side or the other, I got a joint degree in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. My fascination with Bell’s Theorem began when I read an article in Scientific American in 1979, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of things ever since. My most recent large project is a Founder and Director of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.

Tim's book list on quantum theory and its history

Discover why each book is one of Tim's favorite books.

Why did Tim love this book?

Ghirardi, together with Alberto Rimini and Tulio Weber, developed the first mathematically rigorous “objective collapse” interpretation of quantum formalism. This book is aimed at a popular audience, and includes discussion of quantum computation and quantum cryptography, which is absent from the other books on the list. The mathematics is slightly greater than in Albert’s book, but does not go beyond a high school level.

Sneaking a Look at God's Cards

By Giancarlo Ghirardi, Gerald Malsbary (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sneaking a Look at God's Cards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of subatomic particles, seems to challenge common sense. Waves behave like particles; particles behave like waves. You can tell where a particle is, but not how fast it is moving--or vice versa. An electron faced with two tiny holes will travel through both at the same time, rather than one or the other. And then there is the enigma of creation ex nihilo, in which small particles appear with their so-called antiparticles, only to disappear the next instant in a tiny puff of energy. Since its inception, physicists and philosophers have struggled to work…


Quantum Dialogue

By Mara Beller,

Book cover of Quantum Dialogue: The Making of a Revolution

Tim Maudlin Author Of Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory

From the list on quantum theory and its history.

Who am I?

I am a professor of philosophy at New York University, but my interests have always fallen at the intersection of physics and philosophy. Unable to commit to just one side or the other, I got a joint degree in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. My fascination with Bell’s Theorem began when I read an article in Scientific American in 1979, and I have been trying to get to the bottom of things ever since. My most recent large project is a Founder and Director of the John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.

Tim's book list on quantum theory and its history

Discover why each book is one of Tim's favorite books.

Why did Tim love this book?

Beller did a lot of the historical work that Becker relies on, delving deeply into the personal interaction between Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the other founders of quantum theory. The presentation is more scholarly than Becker’s but is a goldmine for anyone who wants to understand the fine details of how quantum theory emerged from that set of distinctive personalities.

Quantum Dialogue

By Mara Beller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quantum Dialogue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work seeks to show that science is rooted not just in conversation but in disagreement, doubt and uncertainty. Mara Beller argues that it is precisely this culture of dialogue and controversy within the scientific community that fuels creativity. Beller draws her argument from her reading of the history of the quantum revolution, especially the development of the Copenhagen interpretation. One of several competing approaches, this version succeeded largely due to the rhetorical skills of Niels Bohr and his colleagues. Using archival research, Beller shows how Bohr and others marketed their views, misrepresenting and dismissing their opponents as "unreasonable" and…


Book cover of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

Chris Ferrie Author Of Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

From the list on quantum physics that are also the most accessible.

Who am I?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!

Chris' book list on quantum physics that are also the most accessible

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

In How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog Chad Orzel has an imaginary conversation about quantum physics with his dog, Emmy. Orzel explains each of the features of quantum physics, like superposition and entanglement, by starting first with an analogy in Emmy’s understandably dog-like behavior.

How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog

By Chad Orzel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum physics has never been more popular. Once thought of as an obscure science, it reached the masses via the notion of teleportation in Star Trek and, more recently, as an integral part of the popular TV series Lost and Fringe. Now, inspired by his hugely popular website and science blog, Chad Orzel uses his cherished mutt Emmy to explain the basic principles of quantum physics. And who better to explain the magical universe of quantum physics than a talking dog?


Quantum Physics

By Valerio Scarani,

Book cover of Quantum Physics: A First Encounter: Interference, Entanglement, and Reality

Nicolas Gisin Author Of Quantum Chance: Nonlocality, Teleportation and Other Quantum Marvels

From the list on nonlocality, teleportation, and other quantum marvels.

Who am I?

I am totally fascinated by the quest of how Nature does it. In particular, I love the fact that humans managed to enters the strange world of atoms and photons by just using their brute intellectual force and imagination. This world obeys precise rules, but very different ones from those we get used to since childhood. For example, the laws that govern the microscopic world allow for indeterminacy and randomness. Moreover, some random events may manifest themselves at several locations at once, leading to the phenomenon of quantum non-locality. I am very fortunate that I could spend all my professional time on such fascinating conceptual questions, combined with highly timely new technologies.

Nicolas' book list on nonlocality, teleportation, and other quantum marvels

Discover why each book is one of Nicolas' favorite books.

Why did Nicolas love this book?

This little book introduces quantum physics at the level of high-school students. It starts with semi-transparent mirrors and interferometers. With figures, but no equations, the reader becomes familiar with wave-particle duality. Next, quantum cryptography, some experiments, and even quantum teleportation are presented in a truly pedestrian way. I much enjoyed reading this book.

Quantum Physics

By Valerio Scarani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quantum Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum physics is often perceived as a weird and abstract theory, which physicists must use in order to make correct predictions. But many recent experiments have shown that the weirdness of the theory simply mirrors the weirdness of phenomena: it is Nature itself, and not only our description of it, that behaves in an astonishing way. This book selects those, among these typical quantum phenomena, whose rigorous description requires neither the formalism, nor an
important background in physics.

The first part of the book deals with the phenomenon of single-particle interference, covering the historical questions of wave-particle duality, objective randomness…


Book cover of Quantum Computing Since Democritus

Rocco Gangle Author Of Diagrammatic Immanence: Category Theory and Philosophy

From the list on mathematics for the philosophically inclined.

Who am I?

Philosophy’s core questions have always obsessed me: What is real? What makes life worth living? Can knowledge be made secure? In graduate school at the University of Virginia I was drawn to mathematically formalized approaches to such questions, especially those of C. S. Peirce and Alain Badiou. More recently, alongside colleagues at Endicott College’s Center for Diagrammatic and Computational Philosophy and GCAS College Dublin I have explored applications of diagrammatic logic, category theory, game theory, and homotopy type theory to such problems as abductive inference and artificial intelligence. Philosophers committed to the perennial questions have much to gain today from studying the new methods and results of contemporary mathematics.

Rocco's book list on mathematics for the philosophically inclined

Discover why each book is one of Rocco's favorite books.

Why did Rocco love this book?

Sometimes a book is not just brilliant and thought-provoking but just plain fun.

Scott Aaronson’s Quantum Computing Since Democritus provides a broad overview of philosophical issues arising from computational theory, cryptography, quantum mechanics, and quantum computing. Its style is crisp, clear, and conversational.

It’s the kind of book that can be read a first time briskly for the sheer excitement of it and then a second time with attention to all the details for consistent Eureka! moments of philosophical insight. Fascinating material and an excellent presentation.

Quantum Computing Since Democritus

By Scott Aaronson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Quantum Computing Since Democritus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by noted quantum computing theorist Scott Aaronson, this book takes readers on a tour through some of the deepest ideas of maths, computer science and physics. Full of insights, arguments and philosophical perspectives, the book covers an amazing array of topics. Beginning in antiquity with Democritus, it progresses through logic and set theory, computability and complexity theory, quantum computing, cryptography, the information content of quantum states and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. There are also extended discussions about time travel, Newcomb's Paradox, the anthropic principle and the views of Roger Penrose. Aaronson's informal style makes this fascinating book accessible…


Q is for Quantum

By Terry Rudolph,

Book cover of Q is for Quantum

Michael G. Raymer Author Of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

From the list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners.

Who am I?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.

Michael's book list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

This masterful book goes one step further and presents a game-based analogy that goes a long way toward explaining how a quantum computer actually works. Working through the book, one gains an understanding of how qubits can be quantum entangled and how entanglement leads to computing tasks that could not be performed on an ordinary computer. Deceptively simple in appearance, the method leads you deep into the inner workings of quantum logic operations without realizing you are digesting some pretty advanced concepts. The author knows of what he writes, as his theoretical discoveries led to one of the world’s most ambitious quantum computing efforts.  

Q is for Quantum

By Terry Rudolph,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Q is for Quantum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

COMPUTING. ENTANGLEMENT. REALITY. Books containing these three words are typically fluff or incomprehensible; this one is not. "Q is for Quantum" teaches a theory at the forefront of modern physics to an audience presumed to already know only basic arithmetic. Topics covered range from the practical (new technologies we can expect soon) to the foundational (old ideas that attempt to make sense of the theory). The theory is built up precisely and quantitatively. Deceptively vague jargon and analogies are avoided, and mysterious features of the theory are made explicit and not skirted. The tenacious reader will emerge with a better…


Book cover of Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos

Michael G. Raymer Author Of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

From the list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners.

Who am I?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.

Michael's book list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Now we are getting to the modern era, where physics meets computing in ways never dreamed of by the founders of quantum physics. Seth Lloyd is a professor at MIT and one of the first to prove that quantum theory admits the possibility of building computers on wholly quantum foundations. He is also one of the most creative and engaging writers on the subject. His main message is that information is the basis of all things physical. From quantum bits or qubits to cosmology, this book has it all, and is written in a highly accessible way. Not a single equation can be found. 

Programming the Universe

By Seth Lloyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Programming the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE BIT...

The universe is made of bits of information and it has been known for more than a century that every piece of the the universe - every electron, atom and molecule - registers these bits and that information. It is only in the last years, however, with the discovery and development of quantum computers, that scientists have gained a fundamental understanding of just how that information is registered and processed.

Building on recent breakthroughs in quantum computation, Seth Lloyd shows how the universe itself is a giant computer. Every atom and elementary particle stores…


Book cover of John Stewart Bell and Twentieth Century Physics: Vision and Integrity

Nicolas Gisin Author Of Quantum Chance: Nonlocality, Teleportation and Other Quantum Marvels

From the list on nonlocality, teleportation, and other quantum marvels.

Who am I?

I am totally fascinated by the quest of how Nature does it. In particular, I love the fact that humans managed to enters the strange world of atoms and photons by just using their brute intellectual force and imagination. This world obeys precise rules, but very different ones from those we get used to since childhood. For example, the laws that govern the microscopic world allow for indeterminacy and randomness. Moreover, some random events may manifest themselves at several locations at once, leading to the phenomenon of quantum non-locality. I am very fortunate that I could spend all my professional time on such fascinating conceptual questions, combined with highly timely new technologies.

Nicolas' book list on nonlocality, teleportation, and other quantum marvels

Discover why each book is one of Nicolas' favorite books.

Why did Nicolas love this book?

John Steward Bell is one of the giants of the twentieth-century sciences, sitting beside Einstein, Bohr, Shannon. I don’t hesitate to predict that history will set him at the firmament of all sciences, thanks to his revolutionary discovery of quantum non-locality. This biography is a must for everyone willing to understand the personality of John Bell, the father of what became after his sudden death the second quantum revolution.

John Stewart Bell and Twentieth Century Physics

By Andrew Whitaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked John Stewart Bell and Twentieth Century Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book gives a readable non-mathematical account of the upbringing, education and academic achievement of John Stewart Bell, the celebrated physicist from Belfast, who was born in 1928.

Bell has become famous for what he described as his 'hobby', analysing the fundamental aspects of quantum theory, where he clarified a long-standing debate between the two most important figures of twentieth century physics, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, and showed that, contrary to belief over the previous thirty years, quantum theory could be supplemented with extra 'hidden variables'. His crucial 'Bell's Theorem' or 'Bell's Inequalities' demonstrated a contradiction between quantum theory…


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