Book Review & Author Interview: Quantum Physics for Hippies by Dr. Lukas Neumeier & Dr. James Douglas

Quantum Physics for Hippies

Authors: Dr. Luke Neumeier and Dr. James Douglas

Publication Date: 03 April 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction – Science

Pages: 175

Bob, a spiritual hippie, meets the witty nerd Alice, who day-dreams about quantum physics all day long. This chance meeting starts them on a mind-blowing journey into the nature of reality that will change their lives forever.
Written by quantum physicists and beautifully illustrated, Quantum Physics for Hippies takes the bizarre world of quantum physics and makes it understandable for everyone, hippies and nerds alike.

Why this book?
Nerds are obsessed with making a map of reality of the physical world. Hippies, on the other hand, are more interested in improving the maps of reality they have about themselves. While nerds read books about physics, cosmology and computer science, hippies attend meditation retreats and emotional healing workshops. Even though these things happen in different realms, in the end, each hippie and each nerd is simply looking for truth. This search unites us all. We all want to improve our maps of reality, regardless of social conventions.

How can quantum physics, a strange theory that describes the behavior of atoms and light, help us in this search? It helps exactly by telling us that the rules underpinning every aspect of reality are not those we expect. It not only reveals severe mistakes in the way we perceive the physical world, but it also questions fundamental beliefs we have about ourselves. How can that be? Well, in the end,
humans are made of atoms too. In this way, quantum physics is as interesting for hippies as it is for nerds.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about what quantum physics is, and what it means for us. The wonderful world of quantum vibrations and entanglement are often misused to justify the impossible, obscuring rather than revealing the truth. This is normally simply due to misunderstandings of what is a very difficult subject. In this book, we give a taste of what we think the magic of quantum physics is really all about, and show that reality is far more mind-bending than any fantasy.

The first part of this book focuses on the map of reality of the physical world. We cover the dance of possibilities, Schrödinger’s cat, quantum entanglement, the Schrödinger equation and the influence of gossip. Then we transition to the map of reality about ourselves. We talk about the possibility wave of the universe, parallel universes, consciousness, the feeling of identity and the question of who or what we really are.
This leads to a surprise that will shake your sense of reality completely.

We hope you enjoy the journey down the rabbit hole of quantum reality as much as we do.

Don’t worry, instead of dry textbook explanations, we provide insightful metaphors and beautiful illustrations to help you understand the crucial and important concepts without effort.

While I may be a scientist, I was still a bit nervous (more like intimidated) to read Quantum Physics for Hippies because physics was one of those science classes that I just didn’t do well in. Math and I don’t really get along, so the majority of it painstakingly flew over my head.

Quantum Physics for Hippies is a remarkable story where a quantum physicist (Alice) and a hippie (Bob) sit down and have a discussion with the intention to debunk the misconceptions surrounding quantum physics all while pondering the meaning of consciousness. Together these two embark on a hilarious spiritual and educational journey that explores particle wave duality, Schrödinger’s cat, quantum entanglement, and the role our consciousness plays in our perceived reality.

Now, you may be thinking that this book is not for you if you don’t have a scientific background, and that is simply untrue. I commend these authors for being able to take such high level information and make it digestible for the palates of all readers…not just those who bury themselves in physics manuscripts day in and day out. Additionally, the illustrations that Jun Matsuura contributes to further explain the experiments as well as provide even more comic relief were amazing.

Overall, if you love pondering life’s big questions all while keeping things light hearted and humorous then definitely pick this one up! Go into this one with an open mind then sit back and prepare to have your mind blown!

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.


Author Interview with Dr. Lukas Neumeier

What is your scientific background?

I studied physics at the Technische Universität Munich, did my Ph.D. in theoretical quantum nano-photonics at ICFO, Barcelona and now I am working for the Aspelmeyer Group in Vienna in the field of Quantum Foundations.

Of all the sciences, why quantum physics? How did you come across that path?

Since I can remember I was interested in questions like, “What is reality?”, “Who the hell am I?”, “What is this all about?” Then, at age 15 or so, I read a book by Richard Feynman and I was immediately hooked. To be fair, I didn’t understand much but I realized that quantum physics is the most fundamental theory we have, that it is incredibly successful in describing nature at its deepest level but yet nobody knows what it really means for us humans. This fascinated me a lot, and after almost 20 years learning about it and almost 10 years of quantum physics research, it still does. Also from the technological side, we currently have a quantum revolution going on. So I believe it becomes more and more important that people have an idea about quantum physics.

About a year ago you and your co-author James Douglas and your Illustrator Jun Matsuura decided to write a book titled “Quantum Physics for Hippies”. Why for Hippies? And why this book?

First, let’s define what we mean by a Hippie. For us a Hippie is someone who is interested in spirituality, meditation, consciousness, maybe yoga, maybe psychedelics, emotional healing, and very much about improving their maps of realities, they have about themselves.

😊
😉

Interestingly, quantum physics is an often-discussed topic in spiritual circles. On the one hand, this is good because we believe that having a good idea about quantum physics can help everyone on their path towards the truth. However, there is also a lot of misinformation about quantum physics out there and most people can’t distinguish between the real stuff and the so-called “quantum woo”. Quantum woo is defined by rational wiki as the justification of irrational beliefs by an obfuscatory reference to quantum physics and very often the word quantum is just used to sound scientific and to sell you some bullshit or some shady healing technique. There are a lot of people making money with the word quantum who have no idea about it. That makes me very angry because, we, real quantum physicists, should be making money with quantum physics.  So we looked for books explaining the real thing in a language that hippies, seekers or other curious minds with no or just a little scientific background can easily understand. We couldn’t find any as most books are either too hard to understand or completely wrong. There was a vacuum that needed to be filled. And, of course, we wrote this book because we want to become famous and rich .

Why is there so much misinformation about quantum physics?

Quantum physics is not an easy topic. Our human mind did not evolve to understand it with everyday logic and intuition. We have difficulties to grasp how an object can be at two places at once and how everything behaves like a wave and how objects can be connected to each other independent of distance because we don’t directly experience that in our everyday life. That doesn’t mean that reality is weird but for sure it seems weird to our limited minds. It means that our maps of reality are incorrect and quantum physics shows us where. But even physicists do not agree on what would be a correct map of reality since the mathematics of quantum physics can be interpreted in multiple ways. That led to a long area of serious physicists not talking about the meaning of quantum physics and even labeling conversations about it as “unscientific”, opening up space which is now filled with pseudoscience. So I believe it was actually our own fault.

How can we solve this problem of misinformation?

Fortunately, a few months ago, suddenly this very hard problem became very simple. If you are a hippie, buy our book and read it. If you are a scientist, buy our book and give it to your hippie friends. If you are a physicist, buy our book and learn how to explain quantum physics to hippies; steal our explanations and use them.

😊

Done .

In your book, which I loved, by the way, you are avoiding technical terms and explain the beautify of quantum physics in the language of everyday life and use powerful metaphors and illustrations. Doesn’t the avoidance of technical terms obscure? How does that help to fight against quantum woo?

We believe that in order to explain quantum physics to interested laypeople, you should make it as easy as possible to them. That includes using their language. If you just throw technical terms like “decoherence” or “wavefunction” at them, they will be frustrated quickly and not learn anything.

So we came up with better, more illustrative words and metaphors, which people can relate to but are still correctly describing what is going on behind the quantum curtain. In this way people can build quantum intuition and really have a picture in their mind which sticks if they want to think or talk about the wonderful theatre play of nature on its deepest level.

😉

I agree. After reading your book I do feel that I understand much more about quantum physics than ever before and it changed a lot about how I think about reality and myself. Thank you very much for writing this wonderful book, your time and I hope you will become famous and rich .

Haha, thank you very much! Very appreciated!

2 comments

  1. Man, that looks great! And Dr. Lukas’s background in Munich, Barcelona, and Vienna, three of my most memory-packed cities! (I actually applied for a job teaching English to science and engineering majors at Dr. L’s TUM-Munich, as an old hippie myself with visions of hanging out in the clothing-optional Englischer Park and Schwabing, but ended up teaching at RWTH Aachen, another tech univ. in another fine city.) May the dream of fame and riches come thru for Drs. L and J for the holiday season!

    Like

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