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How the Hippies Saved Physics

Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival

David Kaiser (Author, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


"Meticulously researched and unapologetically romantic, How the Hippies Saved Physics makes the history of science fun again." —Science

In the 1970s, an eccentric group of physicists in Berkeley, California, banded together to explore the wilder side of science. Dubbing themselves the "Fundamental Fysiks Group," they pursued an audacious, speculative approach to physics, studying quantum entanglement in terms of Eastern mysticism and psychic mind reading. As David Kaiser reveals, these unlikely heroes spun modern physics in a new direction, forcing mainstream physicists to pay attention to the strange but exciting underpinnings of quantum theory.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • July 2012
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34231-4
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 416 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“It’s rare to find quantum physics mentioned in the same breath with sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll…I heartily enjoyed How the Hippies Saved Physics.” — John Gribbin, Wall Street Journal

“It is hard to write a book about quantum mechanics that is at once intellectually serious and a page-turner. But David Kaiser succeeds…Illuminating.” — Nature

“[Kaiser] does an admirable job of making the very concepts of quantum mechanics palpable.” — Christian Science Monitor

“An entertaining tale.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

“This book takes us deep into the kaleidoscopic culture of the 1970s with its pop-metaphysicians, dabblers in Eastern mysticism, and counterculture gurus some of whom, it turns out, were also physicists seeking to challenge the foundations of their discipline. In David Kaiser’s hands, the story of how they succeeded albeit in ways they never intended makes a tremendously fun and eye-opening tale.” — Ken Alder, author of The Measure of All Things and The Lie Detectors

“At first it sounds impossible, then like the opening line of a joke: What do the CIA, Werner Erhard’s EST, Bay Area hippie explorations, and the legacy of Einstein, Heisenberg, and Schroedinger have in common? It turns out, as David Kaiser shows, quite a lot. Here is a book that is immensely fun to read, gives insight into deep and increasingly consequential questions of physics, and transports the reader back into the heart of North Beach zaniness in the long 1960s. Put down your calculators and pick up this book!” — Peter Galison, author of Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps

“David Kaiser’s masterly ability to explain the most subtle and counterintuitive quantum effects, together with his ability to spin a ripping good yarn, make him the perfect guide to this far-off and far-out era of scientific wackiness.” — Seth Lloyd, author of Programming the Universe

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