Einstein and the Quantum reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein s contributions to quantum theory Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice But, in fact, he thought about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light the core of what we now know as quantum theory than he did about relativityA compelling blend of physics, biography, and the history of science, Einstein and the Quantum shares the untold story of how Einstein not Max Planck or Niels Bohr was the driving force behind early quantum theory It paints a vivid portrait of the iconic physicist as he grappled with the apparently contradictory nature of the atomic world, in which its invisible constituents defy the categories of classical physics, behaving simultaneously as both particle and wave And it demonstrates how Einstein s later work on the emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led directly to Erwin Schrodinger s breakthrough to the modern form of quantum mechanics The book sheds light on why Einstein ultimately renounced his own brilliant work on quantum theory, due to his deep belief in science as something objective and eternalA book unlike any other, Einstein and the Quantum offers a completely new perspective on the scientific achievements of the greatest intellect of the twentieth century, showing how Einstein s contributions to the development of quantum theory are significant, perhaps, than even his legendary work on relativity


10 thoughts on “Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian

  1. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    I am not sure how anyone could tell as entertaining a story about such an infinitely complex subject Absolutely fascinating, it makes me want to reread a biography of Einstein I have Isaacson s.This book focuses on Einstein s lesser known contributors to quantum theory and is a highly entertaining read I thought that the explanation of the wave particle light theory was perfectly explained and was surprised at the obsession around the Planck constant.


  2. Max Max says:

    Stone explores Einstein s contributions to quantum theory, skipping over his other work With respect to quantum mechanics Einstein is largely remembered for his rejection of Bohr s Copenhagen Interpretation, but he was a major force behind the quantum revolution To quote Stone, It was Einstein who introduced almost all the revolutionary ideas underlying quantum theory, and who saw first what these ideas meant While famous for his theories of special and general relativity, Einstein told a f Stone explores Einstein s contributions to quantum theory, skipping over his other work With respect to quantum mechanics Einstein is largely remembered for his rejection of Bohr s Copenhagen Interpretation, but he was a major force behind the quantum revolution To quote Stone, It was Einstein who introduced almost all the revolutionary ideas underlying quantum theory, and who saw first what these ideas meant While famous for his theories of special and general relativity, Einstein told a friend I have thought a hundred times as much about the quantum problems as I have about Relativity Theory Einstein s first major contribution to quantum theory was in 1905, although it would be years before his ideas were widely accepted Einstein, delving into Max Planck s law of black body radiation, proposed that light electromagnetic radiation was constructed of particles, individual quanta of energy known today as photons This differed from Planck s interpretation Planck believed energy was transferred in quanta but light itself was only a continuous wave, conforming to the accepted theory at the time Einstein went on to use his quantum theory of light to explain the photoelectric effect in which electrons in solids are displaced by light Wave theory could not explain this Much later, in 1921, the Nobel Prize was awarded to Einstein for his discovery of the law governing the photoelectric effect It was his only Nobel Prize, never receiving one for general relativity or any of his other discoveries 1905 had been a productive year for Einstein That year in addition to light quanta and its role in the photoelectric effect, Einstein explained Brownian motion, special relativity and came up with E MC 2 This was all done while he held a six day a week job at the Swiss patent office to support his family In 1907 Einstein in a second major contribution to quantum theory put out another paper holding that atoms only absorbed and emitted energy in quanta Again it would be years before most physicists accepted that Einstein was correct Specific heat is the change in a substance s thermal energy due to a change in its temperature Using his thesis Einstein explained the temperature variation of specific heat matching experimental data and predicting that at absolute zero all solids would be devoid of specific heat He went on to hold that any atomic theory required quantum theory When Bohr in 1913 came up with his revolutionary atomic theory, he cited Einstein s papers on quantum theory Bohr wrote The general importance of Planck s theory for the discussion of the behavior of atomic systems was originally pointed out by Einstein The considerations of Einstein have been developed and applied to a number of different phenomena, especially by Stark, Nernst and Sommerfeld This is one of many examples of how this close knit physics community shared and built upon each other s ideas.After finishing his work on general relativity in 1915, Einstein again returned to the study of the quanta Digesting Bohr s model of the atom, Einstein explored further the absorption and emission of radiation by atoms He showed that emission could both be stimulated and spontaneous Also in this 1916 paper he derived Planck s formula using a purely quantum technique Stone notes that this is still the textbook derivation Einstein went on to challenge the accepted belief that radiation propagated spherically from its source He showed instead that radiation proceeded in a specific direction and that it exerted pressure when it struck an atom All of this was supportive of his position that light was composed of force carrying particles photons , an idea that in 1916 was still not widely accepted Einstein also believed in wave particle duality, but over the years had been continually frustrated trying to uncover a mathematical basis His belief was shared by few others at the time Einstein held that particles were guided by a field that enabled a particle s interference with itself, but that did not determine the particle s properties, essentially what is believed today While Max Born is often credited with these ideas, Born consistently credited Einstein In a 1917 paper Einstein applied topological mathematics to the Bohr Summerfeld theory of electron orbits uncovering the problem of irregular orbits In doing so he foreshadowed by over fifty years the development of quantum chaos theory The paper was important enough for Erwin Schrodinger in 1926 to credit Einstein s description of quantum conditions as the most akin, of all earlier attempts, to the present one in a footnote to his papers putting forth his famous wave equation of quantum mechanics It was Einstein s 1917 paper that made Stone the author take a deep look into Einstein s work in quantum theory and subsequently write this book In 1924 an unknown Indian physicist, Satyendra Bose, sent a paper to Einstein Remarkably, Einstein, at the top of his fame for the discovery of general relativity, read it The paper was a derivation of Planck s law that treated light solely as particles not waves Buried in the paper was a new principle that was not stated or explained but was implicit in Bose s formulas Bose had inadvertently changed the way quantum states of a gas of photons were counted This calculation is important in determining entropy and energy levels Einstein saw that Bose s method meant identical quantum particles were indistinguishable and interchanging them does not produce a new physical state Einstein applied Bose s calculation to atoms in a gas realizing as Stone describes it that Atoms are fundamentally indistinguishable and impossible to label Nature is such that they are not separate entities, with their own independent trajectories through space and time They exist in an eerie, fuzzy state of oneness when aggregated So the Bose Einstein statistical worldview, coming from a different direction, reinforces the concept of wave particle duality, in this case applied to both light and matter, and heralds the discovery that the microscopic world exists in a bizarre mixture of potentiality and actuality Einstein championed another unknown, Louis De Broglie, who in 1924 wrote his PhD thesis claiming that electrons should be considered waves as well as particles just as photons could Fortunately for De Broglie, his advisor, not knowing what to make of the paper had a connection to Einstein and asked Einstein to read it Einstein did, strongly endorsed it, added his own thoughts and called for physicists to begin looking for wave particle duality in matter Not only did this get De Broglie his Ph D., but it got the paper reviewed by other well known physicists including Schrodinger who was soon to come up with his quantum wave equation Schrodinger acknowledged the paper s influence on his groundbreaking equation saying My theory was inspired by L De Broglie and by brief, yet infinitely far seeing remarks by A Einstein This is another of many examples of ideas percolating through the physics community before reaching fruition Einstein dug even further into the implications of Bose s way of counting particles in a 1925 paper He proposed a new state of matter now called Bose Einstein condensate Although Bose s name is attached, this work was solely Einstein s Einstein theorized that by applying enough pressure while maintaining a constant temperature the atoms in an ideal gas would go into their quantum state without kinetic energy and condense becoming a new kind of liquid As Stone puts it, Einstein s condensation phenomenon is driven purely by the newly discovered quantum oneness of identical particles, not by a force like electromagnetism, but by this strange statistical pseudoforce that Einstein was the first to recognize It would be seventy years later when scientists finally produced Bose Einstein condensate It required a temperature of 170 billionths of a degree above absolute zero Bose Einstein condensation became an important part of condensed matter physics and the study of superconductivity and superfluidity As happened frequently, none of the other leading physicists of the time believed Einstein s theory and ignored it Einstein s last contribution to quantum theory was a paper now dubbed the EPR paper that he coauthored in 1935 with two younger physicists The paper highlighted an implication of quantum mechanics Einstein referred to as spooky action at a distance This idea has since been proven and is known today as entanglement It is an area of intense research and is particularly relevant to quantum computing While Einstein felt this effect violated the principle of locality we can thank Einstein for his prediction of this phenomenon as a logical product of quantum theory Stone summarizes Einstein s contributions to quantum theory quantization of energy, force carrying particles photons , wave particle duality, intrinsic randomness in physical processes, indistinguishability of quantum particles, wave fields as probability densities these are most of the key concepts of quantum mechanics In addition to this unique presentation on Einstein s contribution to quantum theory Stone gives us vignettes of many other scientists who engaged with Einstein, some collaboratively, others in opposition and many switching back and forth depending on the topic These included Bose, Schrodinger, De Broglie, Stark, Sommerfeld, Nernst, Born, Planck, Heisenberg, and Lorentz Stone also profiles those whose work inspired Einstein such as Boltzmann and Maxwell A fascinating aspect of Stone s presentation is the way it depicts the development of concepts He illustrates how ideas and intuition became full fledged theories in the early twentieth century world of physics We see how the seeds for these ideas develop and come together to form the breakthrough concept We see how Einstein derived his ideas from the work of others, how he would bounce his ideas off his many friends, refine and develop them And if Einstein found a project he deemedinteresting, he might ask other scientists to pick up where he left off Ideas and theories would circulate around the physics community until hopefully someone finally had a eureka moment I really loved this book I found it challenging but not overwhelming I reread many sections, somethan a couple of times, to ponder and grasp the concepts The level of difficulty was pretty consistent throughout Stone doesn t use a lot of math and resorts to analogies to help understand complex topics The analogies never seemed silly Some science books for the lay reader try to please everyone but end up bouncing back and forth between over simplistic explanations and head scratchingly difficult ones Stone is to be commended for avoiding both extremes This book is highly recommended for readers interested in the development of quantum theory


  3. Brian Clegg Brian Clegg says:

    This is without doubt a five star, standout book, though there are a couple of provisos that mean it won t work for everyone.If you ask someone who has read a bit of popular science about the founders of quantum theory they will mention names like Planck, Bohr, Schr dinger and Heisenberg but as Douglas Stone points out, the most significant name in laying the foundations of quantum physics was its arch critic, Albert Einstein You may be aware that Einstein took Planck s original speculation a This is without doubt a five star, standout book, though there are a couple of provisos that mean it won t work for everyone.If you ask someone who has read a bit of popular science about the founders of quantum theory they will mention names like Planck, Bohr, Schr dinger and Heisenberg but as Douglas Stone points out, the most significant name in laying the foundations of quantum physics was its arch critic, Albert Einstein You may be aware that Einstein took Planck s original speculation about quantised energy and turned it into a description of the action of real particles in his 1905 paper photoelectric effect that won him his Nobel Prize but what is shocking to learn is just how much further Einstein went, producing a whole string of papers that made the development of quantum theory almost inevitable It was Einstein, for instance, who came up the earliest form of wave particle duality.I have never read anything that gave detail on this fascinating period of the development of physics the way that Stone does This isn t really a scientific biography Stone does dip into Einstein s life, but often in a fairly shallow way What is muchsignificant is the way he shows us the building blocks that would make the full quantum theory being put in place It really is absolutely fascinating Science writers like me tend to skip over large chunks of the way this developed, throwing in just the highlights, but Stone really gives us chapter and verse, without ever resorting to mathematics, demonstrating the route to quantum theory in a way, he suggests, that most working physicists have no ability to appreciate Remarkable.I have two provisos A minor one is that Stone s context is not as well researched as his physics We are told that Arrhenius moved to Europe from Sweden, perhaps a slight surprise for most Swedes to realise that they don t live in Europe And he calls Rutherford British admittedly the great New Zealand physicist did most of his best work in the UK, but I m not sure we can count him as our own.The bigger warning is that this book isn t going to work for everyone While I found some of the explanations notably of a Bose Einstein condensate the clearest I ve ever read, Stone does fall into the typical trap of the physicist as science writer of assuming what comes naturally to him is equally accessible to the general reader I don t think he makes clear enough the basis in thermodynamics of the early work, perhaps assuming that the statistical mechanics of vibrating bodies, and other essentials that constantly turn up in the early workings, are sufficiently straightforward as classical physics that they don t need much explanation Without that clear foundation, his later explanations may be slightly hard going but I can only say that if you really want a feel for where quantum physics came from to persevere and go with the flow, because it is well worth it.P.S I wish someone had told the cover designer how inappropriate the solar system like atom picture on the cover is for the topic


  4. David Schwan David Schwan says:

    This book gives a quite different view of Einstein and his contributions to Quantum Theory This book covers development of Quantum Theory up to Heisenberg and Schrodinger and their modern theories of Quantum Mechanics Generally people associate Einstein and Quantum Mechanics through his famous quote God does not play dice, yet Einstein published many papers that led to Quantum Mechanics and was quite familiar with the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics.This book is probably not for a beginner This book gives a quite different view of Einstein and his contributions to Quantum Theory This book covers development of Quantum Theory up to Heisenberg and Schrodinger and their modern theories of Quantum Mechanics Generally people associate Einstein and Quantum Mechanics through his famous quote God does not play dice, yet Einstein published many papers that led to Quantum Mechanics and was quite familiar with the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics.This book is probably not for a beginner, but can be read by anyone who has taken basic college physics


  5. Perry Clark Perry Clark says:

    Professor Stone s first book is quite an accomplishment Not only does he tackle some of thedifficult ideas and personalities in physics, but he does so in a readable style, with enough depth to keep the intelligent reader interested and occupied but not so dense and difficult that he loses anyone wishing to keep up the pace of the book Einstein and the Quantum is a splendid work One comes away knowingthan before, and pleased with the experience He also manages to do Einstein the Professor Stone s first book is quite an accomplishment Not only does he tackle some of thedifficult ideas and personalities in physics, but he does so in a readable style, with enough depth to keep the intelligent reader interested and occupied but not so dense and difficult that he loses anyone wishing to keep up the pace of the book Einstein and the Quantum is a splendid work One comes away knowingthan before, and pleased with the experience He also manages to do Einstein the service of showing us just how important the German genius was in the development of quantum mechanics, despite the great man s later reservations about the theory s entwinement with probability and the implications about God playing dice.Stone tells us in the introduction that Physicists don t read the works of the great masters of earlier generations A nd the history that is mentioned is sanitized to eliminate the passions, egos, and human frailties of the great natural philosophers He then admits that despite having been a physics professor forthan a quarter century, he had not read a single word written by Einstein during his actual career as a research physicist It is to our benefit that he both overcame this deficit, and that he presents us with the fruits of his labors and a strong case that we should all ensure that every now and again we do, indeed, read the works of the great masters.I shall not share juicy details or highlight further passages, but will simply insist that if one is at all possessed of a scientific nature, and wishes to know a bit about how our current understanding of things came to be, this book is invaluable It is certainly not suitable as a technical work, but enough of the science is presented and explained to leave the general reader suitably impressed with the goings on of theoretical physics a century ago.My largest complaint regarding the book is perhaps a petty one too often there are occasional misspellings and grammatical errors of the sort best explained by errors in copy editing Erroneous placements of punctuation, and typos of the sort that would cause to be marked down a high school term paper, are frequent enough to be distracting, though not ubiquitous Stone s effort deserved better work by his publisher Since his publisher is Princeton University Press, and he s a professor at Yale, one wonders whether someone in New Jersey is annoyed with a call during last spring s lacrosse match.All in all, though, I highly recommend the book It is most suitable for adult readers, but accessible, acceptable, and appropriate for high school and beyond


  6. Homayon Zeary Homayon Zeary says:

    This book made me fall in love with the genius of the man all over again Over the years I have read many books aimed at the layman about the development of science and especially the history of theoretical physics Of course I was aware of the whole not playing dice objection but never knew the extent of how much the genius of the man shaped the quantum understanding too The book does an excellent job of depicting the genius and prowess of Einstein in such an easy way to follow and understa This book made me fall in love with the genius of the man all over again Over the years I have read many books aimed at the layman about the development of science and especially the history of theoretical physics Of course I was aware of the whole not playing dice objection but never knew the extent of how much the genius of the man shaped the quantum understanding too The book does an excellent job of depicting the genius and prowess of Einstein in such an easy way to follow and understand The mix of anecdotes, life story, hard core physics and the well placed humour takes you through a gripping journey Thank you Mr Stone for bringing him to life.I wonder what he would have made of m theory


  7. Ethan Hoskins Ethan Hoskins says:

    A Douglas Stone, demonstrates in Einstein and the Quantum, a very original way to capture how Einstein was involved in the foundation of quantum mechanics It blends physics and a biography to make a truly great book for people interested in the two The book creates a perfect image of the history of science before and after Einstein set his foundational work on emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led to Erwin Schrodinger s breakthrough in Quantum physics overall I thought A Douglas Stone, demonstrates in Einstein and the Quantum, a very original way to capture how Einstein was involved in the foundation of quantum mechanics It blends physics and a biography to make a truly great book for people interested in the two The book creates a perfect image of the history of science before and after Einstein set his foundational work on emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led to Erwin Schrodinger s breakthrough in Quantum physics overall I thought the book after introducing an interesting topic was great in showing how Einstein s discoveries led to the further breakthroughs in quantum theory


  8. Philip Philip says:

    Stone gives countless vivid vignettes on the real practice of real scientists Some make us laugh, others make us say ouch, but they all hit home Almost every popularization purports to tell us about the human side of the subject, yet shy away from anything substantive about how s he was human while doing science Stone has been right there doing world class science himself, and also has the rare empathy needed to decode what his protagonists were up to under the surface Really, I know Stone gives countless vivid vignettes on the real practice of real scientists Some make us laugh, others make us say ouch, but they all hit home Almost every popularization purports to tell us about the human side of the subject, yet shy away from anything substantive about how s he was human while doing science Stone has been right there doing world class science himself, and also has the rare empathy needed to decode what his protagonists were up to under the surface Really, I know no book that succeeds like this one at this intimate, interior view


  9. Mitch Allen Mitch Allen says:

    At the outset, I thought that this book would reveal what Einstein really thought about quantum mechanics, beyond the scientific papers and debates Alas, it just scratches the surface and settles for a defense of Einstein as the catalyst for quantum theory, decently presented but incomplete.


  10. Ken Dilella Ken Dilella says:

    half way through and I hate this book popourrie Mish mash of classical and quantum physics without a direction author writes like my 10th grade algebra teacher boring, bland, confusing, unfocused.update books is now kindling.