Important New Book – Theo van Holten

July 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

The Atomic World Spooky? It Ain’t Necessarily So!: Emergent Quantum Mechanics, How the Classical Laws of Nature Can Conspire to Cause Quantum-Like Behaviour

by Theo van Holten

The hardcover is out – for example here:  or at Springerbut its coming out in paperback soon – . Its not coming in paperback, so I just bought the hard cover. Its ok if a paperback comes later but I can’t wait!

So what I’m saying is that I’m cheap enough to wait for the paperback, so I actually have not read the book, but it looks like its going to be a real addition to the field. Its aimed at people with at least a science background.

The book takes the discovery (by for example Couder/Bush) that quantum-like behaviour is not solely reserved to atomic particles one step further. If electrons are modelled as vibrating droplets instead of the usually assumed point objects, and if the classical laws of nature are applied, then exactly  the same behaviour  as in quantum  theory is found, quantitatively correct! The world of atoms is strange and quantum mechanics, the theory of this world, is almost magic. Or is it? Tiny droplets of oil bouncing round on a fluid surface can also mimic the world of quantum mechanics. For the layman – for whom the main part of this book is written – this is good news. If the everyday laws of nature can conspire to show up quantum-like phenomena, there is hope to form mental pictures how the atomic world works.

Here is an excerpt from the Preface to the book: (other tidbits can be downloaded from Springer)

To begin with a warning: the contents of this book may be controversial.

 The readers the author had in mind when writing this book are interested laymen, typically the kind of reader who searches bookshops for the latest popular-scientific books on developments in cosmology, on recently found fun- damental particles, or on the ever more magical findings of quantum physics. These readers presumably have some background of classical school physics (although most of it may have been forgotten). It is the kind of reader who does not like to be bothered with formulae or is even allergic to them, but who has the interest and tenacity to read sentences twice if necessary. But complete novices in the matters of the atomic world should be warned: the stories told in this book are not the same as usually found in books about quantum phenomena. This book does not give the conventional explanations. In order to read the usual stories, it is better to start in

one of the many other popular-scientific books.
 What then is this book about? This book certainly does not pretend to contain a

new theory of quantum mechanics, nor does it have the intention. Quantum theory in its present form is an almost perfect tool to calculate the behaviour of elementary particles. But the theory is “strange”, it is not something that intuitively can be understood. What this book tries to add are visualisations or mental pictures, closer to the intuition, because they are based on classical physics. However, the mental pictures in this book are not just half-baked analogies or metaphores, they are solidly founded on a large body of mathematical theory (for the diehards: the theory can be found in the appendix). This aspect makes this book different from other popular-scientific books.
Here is an excerpt from the book’s appendix. You can see that a mathematical treatment is supplied. This book is written for people who already know QM. I can think of some young physics undergrads I might buy this for!
I will do an in depth review when I’m able to get the book.
–Tom Andersen



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