How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival

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W.W. Norton & Company, Jun 29, 2012 - Science - 378 pages

Today, quantum information theory is among the most exciting scientific frontiers, attracting billions of dollars in funding and thousands of talented researchers. But as MIT physicist and historian David Kaiser reveals, this cutting-edge field has a surprisingly psychedelic past. How the Hippies Saved Physics introduces us to a band of freewheeling physicists who defied the imperative to "shut up and calculate" and helped to rejuvenate modern physics.

For physicists, the 1970s were a time of stagnation. Jobs became scarce, and conformity was encouraged, sometimes stifling exploration of the mysteries of the physical world. Dissatisfied, underemployed, and eternally curious, an eccentric group of physicists in Berkeley, California, banded together to throw off the constraints of the physics mainstream and explore the wilder side of science. Dubbing themselves the "Fundamental Fysiks Group," they pursued an audacious, speculative approach to physics. They studied quantum entanglement and Bell's Theorem through the lens of Eastern mysticism and psychic mind-reading, discussing the latest research while lounging in hot tubs. Some even dabbled with LSD to enhance their creativity. Unlikely as it may seem, these iconoclasts spun modern physics in a new direction, forcing mainstream physicists to pay attention to the strange but exciting underpinnings of quantum theory.

A lively, entertaining story that illuminates the relationship between creativity and scientific progress, How the Hippies Saved Physics takes us to a time when only the unlikeliest heroes could break the science world out of its rut.

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User Review  - EmreSevinc - LibraryThing

David Kaiser brings a whole new perspective to the concept of history of science in his book “How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival” (or maybe we should call ... Read full review

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User Review  - lindap69 - LibraryThing

Even I who chose to skip Physics in high school could understand some of this! Basically a group of non-conformists approached seemingly unanswerable questions from multiple unconventional ways - a ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

David Kaiser is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he teaches in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and the Department of Physics. He lives near Boston.

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