The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality, published by Basic Books, tells the story of how the two eminent physicists engaged in a lifelong exchange of ideas, resulting in many of the innovations of late 20th century physics. While outwardly they seemed very different, they shared a deep bond. The soft-spoken Wheeler, though conservative in appearance, was a raging nonconformist full of wild ideas about the universe. The boisterous Feynman was a cautious physicist who believed only what could be tested. Yet they were complementary spirits.
Feynman and Wheeler’s collaboration led to a complete rethinking of the nature of time and reality. It enabled Feynman to show how quantum reality is a combination of alternative, contradictory possibilities, and inspired Wheeler to develop his landmark concept of wormholes, shortcuts through space. Feynman received a Nobel Prize for his research, and became a renowned popularizer of science. Wheeler went on to pioneer the concept of black holes. Together, Feynman and Wheeler made sure that quantum physics would never be the same again.
Paul Halpern is a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and the author of fifteen popular science books, including Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award. Halpern has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including “Future Quest,” “Radio Times,” several shows on the History Channel, and “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special.” He has contributed opinion pieces for the Philadelphia Inquirer, blogs frequently on Medium, and was a regular contributor to NOVA’s “The Nature of Reality” physics blog. He lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia.