Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire
The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta
- Quanta Magazine, from which the essays for this book were drawn, received the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting!
Essential articles from Pulitzer Prize-winning magazine Quanta Magazine on the latest findings in challenging, speculative, and cutting-edge science.
“If you're a science and data nerd like me, you may be interested in Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire... from Quanta Magazine and Thomas Lin.”—Bill Gates
These stories reveal the latest efforts to untangle the mysteries of the universe. Bringing together the best and most interesting science stories appearing in Quanta Magazine over the past five years, Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire reports on some of the greatest scientific minds as they test the limits of human knowledge. Quanta, under editor-in-chief Thomas Lin, is the only popular publication that offers in-depth coverage of today's challenging, speculative, cutting-edge science. It communicates science by taking it seriously, wrestling with difficult concepts and clearly explaining them in a way that speaks to our innate curiosity about our world and ourselves.
In the title story, Alice and Bob—beloved characters of various thought experiments in physics—grapple with gravitational forces, possible spaghettification, and a massive wall of fire as Alice jumps into a black hole. Another story considers whether the universe is impossible, in light of experimental results at the Large Hadron Collider. We learn about quantum reality and the mystery of quantum entanglement; explore the source of time's arrow; and witness a eureka moment when a quantum physicist exclaims: “Finally, we can understand why a cup of coffee equilibrates in a room.” We reflect on humans' enormous skulls and the Brain Boom; consider the evolutionary benefits of loneliness; peel back the layers of the newest artificial-intelligence algorithms; follow the “battle for the heart and soul of physics”; and mourn the disappearance of the “diphoton bump,” revealed to be a statistical fluctuation rather than a revolutionary new particle. These stories from Quanta give us a front-row seat to scientific discovery.
Contributors: Philip Ball, K. C. Cole, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Dan Falk, Courtney Humphries, Ferris Jabr, Katia Moskvitch, George Musser, Michael Nielsen, Jennifer Ouellette, John Pavlus, Emily Singer, Andreas von Bubnoff, Frank Wilczek, Natalie Wolchover, Carl Zimmer
Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire takes the reader on one fascinating adventure, an exploration of the universe with all its mystery and wonder and starlit dazzle, told by some of the best science writers working today.
Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist and author of The Poison Squad
This collection of beautifully written articles introduces, in a manner accessible to all, some of the most exciting ideas being contemplated as we search for answers to the profound mysteries at the frontiers of science.
David Gross, Nobel Prize–winning physicist
I'm thrilled to have this collection in physical form—a thoughtfully curated compilation that reflects Quanta's depth and breadth, from wild abstractions to the human-centric. This book is an absolute pleasure. I cannot wait to share.
Janna Levin, Barnard/Columbia astrophysicist and author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space
This collection of thought-provoking missives from the front lines of scientific research—across several fields—is essential reading, and should have pride of place on any bookshelf or nightstand.
Clifford Johnson, Professor of Physics at the University of Southern California and author of The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe
An enjoyable collection that offers a glimpse into new knowledge about our universe.
"If you're a science and data nerd like me, you may be interested in Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire and The Prime Number Conspiracy from Quanta Magazine and Thomas Lin."