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Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness

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Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness

Quantum Enigma book cover

Oxford University Press

The Bottom Line

Quantum Enigma is an enjoyable, expansive, and clear look at quantum theory, its various interpretations, and the philosophical questions that arise in conjunction with it. The authors focus on the role consciousness plays in resolving quantum-level situations, and what the ultimate significance of this might be.

For anyone intrigued by quantum physics, this book provides clear insight into the key issues of the field, though there is little new for those already well-versed in the topic.

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  • Lucid look at the key elements of basic quantum theory
  • Written with emphasis on understanding among nonscientists - No mathematics.
  • Consciousness' role in quantum theory addressed without straying to metaphysical realms.


  • Some examples result in oversimplification
  • Fictional "dialogue" segments are contrived & somewhat cheesy


  • Oxford University Press, 2006, hardcover, 17 chapters (+ index), 211 pages (w/ index)
  • Authored by University of California Santa Cruz physics professors Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner
  • Written in an non-technical style that makes it easily accessible to laymen. No mathematics!
  • Presents all background necessary for "understanding" the topic (as well as quantum theory can be)

Guide Review - Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness

Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness addresses the issue of the "skeleton in the closet" of quantum physics: in short, that quantum phenomena ultimately results in the conclusion that observational choice (and thus consciousness) is related to the outcome of a natural event.

In presenting the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, the authors address:

  • Classical physics
  • Development of quantum mechanics
  • Schroedinger's equation
  • How technology derived from quantum mechanics fuels the economy
  • The Copenhagen (and other) interpretations of quantum theory
  • Wave particle duality
  • Schroedinger's cat paradox
  • Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox
  • Bell's theorem & Bell's inequality
With this foundation established, quantum theory shows that every property of nature, at the most fundamental level, is represented by a wave function of quantum probability. This wave function "collapses" into a single state upon observation, but experiments make it clear that prior to the observation, the reality of the situation is the probability wave. In certain highly specialized quantum situations, the choice of experiment actually determines what will be observed.

As the authors make clear, the point of the book is not to resolve the enigma, but merely to bring it to light. This book is intended to motivate philosophical inquiry into the topic, not promote an agenda. In this respect, it does an outstanding job, and avoids the trap of pseudo-mysticism that many such works fall prey to.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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