February 2020, Nonfiction

Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime by Sean Carroll. September 10, 2019. Dutton, 347 p. ISBN: 9781524743017.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

As you read these words, copies of you are being created.

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and one of this world’s most celebrated writers on science, rewrites the history of 20th century physics. Already hailed as a masterpiece, Something Deeply Hidden shows for the first time that facing up to the essential puzzle of quantum mechanics utterly transforms how we think about space and time.  His reconciling of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity changes, well, everything.

Most physicists haven’t even recognized the uncomfortable truth: physics has been in crisis since 1927. Quantum mechanics  has always had obvious gaps—which have come to be simply ignored. Science popularizers keep telling us how weird it is,  how impossible it is to understand. Academics discourage students from working on the “dead end” of quantum foundations. Putting his professional reputation on the line with this audacious yet entirely reasonable book, Carroll says that the crisis can now come to an end. We just have to accept that there is more than one of us in the universe. There are many, many Sean Carrolls. Many of every one of us.

Copies of you are generated thousands of times per second. The Many Worlds Theory of quantum behavior says that every time there is a quantum event, a world splits off with everything in it the same, except in that other world the quantum event didn’t happen. Step-by-step in Carroll’s uniquely lucid way, he tackles the major objections to this otherworldly revelation until his case is inescapably established.

Rarely does a book so fully reorganize how we think about our place in the universe. We are on the threshold of a new understanding—of where we are in the cosmos, and what we are made of.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))
Armchair physicists everywhere know how Niels Bohr bested Albert Einstein in their clash over quantum mechanics. But Carroll convincingly shows that Bohr prevailed by offering powerful formulas while dodging the questions Einstein raised about the fundamental realities behind those formulas. Readers revisit these questions by pondering the puzzling consequences of any measurement in Bohr’s quantum system and considering the baffling failure of that system to explain the dynamics of quantum phenomena. Laying aside Bohr’s mystifications, Carroll finds a rigorous response to Einstein’s concerns in the quantum theorizing of Hugh Everett III. Readers will recognize the attractiveness of Everett’s quantum paradigm, offering a clear picture of reality, not merely a blur of probabilities. They will appreciate, too, the conceptual parsimony of a quantum science distilling its entire framework in a single wave formula. But they must confront the paradigm’s controversial implication that every quantum event spawns a new, parallel universe. Though many physicists resist Everett’s notion of physically unobservable universes, Carroll argues persuasively that every available alternative to Everett’s formulation entangles scientists in inconsistencies likely to foreclose progress in developing a much-needed quantum explanation of gravity. Readers in this universe (and others?) will relish the opportunity to explore the frontiers of science in the company of titans.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2019)
The latest attempt to describe the “holy grail of modern physics.”Although in theory it works brilliantly, no one fully understands quantum mechanics. However, Carroll  works hard—and somewhat successfully—to deliver an accessible explanation. “Quantum mechanics,” he writes, “is unique among physical theories in drawing an apparent distinction between what we see and what really is….If we free our minds from certain old-fashioned and intuitive ways of thinking, we find that quantum mechanics isn’t hopelessly mystical or inexplicable. It’s just physics.” This doesn’t bother most physicists, who belong to the shut-up-and-calculate school, and searching for a deep meaning is unfashionable. Carroll swims against the tide, explaining several theories that attempt to describe what is happening, with an emphasis on his favorite, the many-worlds theory. He begins by pointing out that in our everyday world, the world of classical mechanics, every object has two features: a location and a velocity. Everything is transparent; whatever happens to that object is explained by classical laws of physics—essentially Newton’s. In contrast, every quantum object has one feature: a wave function defined by Schrödinger’s 1926 equation, which explains what happens when one measures it. Although true for objects of any size, quantum mechanics becomes essential at the atomic and subatomic levels. Some popular writers proclaim that this demonstrates our ignorance or perhaps a mysterious spiritual element in the universe. The author disagrees but admits that, as a description of how reality works, it makes no sense. Eschewing mathematics, Carroll labors mightily to reveal the meaning behind quantum mechanics with a major detour into general relativity, both of which might benefit from at least a little math. Readers who remember freshman college physics will be intrigued; others will struggle.

About the Author

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993. His research focuses on issues in cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His book The Particle at the End of the Universe won the prestigious Winton Prize for Science Books in 2013. Carroll lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.

His website is preposterousuniverse.com.

Teacher Resources

Basic quantum physics lesson plans

Around the Web

Something Deeply Hidden on Amazon

Something Deeply Hidden on Barnes and Noble

Something Deeply Hidden on Goodreads

Something Deeply Hidden on LibraryThing

Something Deeply Hidden Publisher Page

January 2020, Nonfiction

Body 2.0 by Sara Latta

Body 2.0 by Sara Latta. November 5, 2019. Twenty-First Century Books, 96 p. ISBN: 9781541528130.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1170.

Scientists are on the verge of a revolution in biomedical engineering that will forever change the way we think about medicine, even life itself. Cutting-edge researchers are working to build body organs and tissue in the lab. They are developing ways to encourage the body to regenerate damaged or diseased bone and muscle tissue. Scientists are striving to re-route visual stimuli to the brain to help blind people see. They may soon discover methods to enlist the trillions of microbes living in our bodies to help us fight disease. Learn about four strands of bioengineering―tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, neuroengineering, microbial science, and genetic engineering and synthetic biology―and meet scientists working in these fields.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 7))
Grades 8-12. Young scientists need look no further for a solid introduction to engineering in biology and medicine. Latta educates readers on the use of stem cells in the regeneration of limbs, the creation and repair of organs, brain-computer interfaces that help with restoring movement, gene therapy and its role in treating illnesses, as well as research on neurons and the part played by bacteria in improving health and immunity. Material is made engaging through interesting anecdotes that introduce each chapter. Large color photographs and diagrams accompany the text, and each chapter contains additional factual asides and related text within boxed sidebars. Spotlights on notable biomedical and chemical engineers highlight these important role players as well as the steps necessary to pursue such a career. The inclusion of statements from researchers and scientists working on real-life cases adds further insight, with each case highlighting the incredible possibilities of the field. This foundational text is must-have for juvenile nonfiction collections.

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 15, 2019)
A primer on biomedical engineering. Veteran science author Latta (Zoom in on Mining Robots, 2018, etc.) here spotlights the fascinating convergence of medicine, engineering, and scientific discovery, offering provocative glimpses into the burgeoning fields of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, neuroscience, microbiology, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology. Inspiring problem-solving–minded teens to explore these STEM disciplines by describing projects so cutting edge they seem like science fiction, Latta also includes brief profiles and photos of diverse researchers that enable readers to imagine themselves pursuing similar careers. Says Dr. Gilda Barabino, “I think there’s a little bit of an engineer in everybody. It’s curiosity! Everybody wants to know how things work.” Areas of potential breakthrough covered include brain-computer interfaces that may one day allow people with paralysis or limited mobility to move their limbs or control a robot helper; editing the human genome to treat chronic diseases like sickle cell disease by removing and replacing damaged DNA; optogenetics, which hopes to combine gene therapy with light to reduce pain and cure blindness; and growing bespoke body parts like bone, skin, arteries, and more in the lab, seeded by one’s own cells and partially crafted by 3-D bioprinters. Full-color diagrams and photos combined with informative text boxes and a lively, conversational style make this an appealing choice. Hot and heady: an enticing calling card for researchers of tomorrow. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, further information, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Sara Latta is the author of seventeen books for children and young adults on topics that include dark matter, the secret life of microbes, DNA, bones, and forensic science. She also has a masters degree in immunology. She does have a bit of a phobia about heights, as she discovered when faced with having to climb down from a pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Her website is www.saralatta.com

Teacher Resources

Collection of Biomedical Engineering Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Body 2.0 on Amazon

Body 2.0 on Barnes and Noble

Body 2.0 on Goodreads

Body 2.0 on LibraryThing

Body 2.0 Publisher Page