Ever since the ancient Greeks conceived of the atom, humans have sought the smallest ingredients of existence. In the past century, the use of reductionism to understand behaviour has gained momentum as the quantum universe and the workings of the human mind have been uncovered in particle colliders and fMRI scanners. Acclaimed physicist Alastair I.M. Rae spells out how the powerful tool of reductionism works, from the level of subatomic particles, up through molecular chemistry, and beyond to our neural networks. How does physics explain consciousness? Can quantum mechanics be applied to the brain or mind? What can economists learn from reductionism? Rae's exploration is an indispensable guide to one of the most fundamental ideas of science.
"This book provides a persuasive case that phenomena as complex as the mind or society can be ultimately explained as consequences of the most fundamental scientific laws. An enthralling account for anyone with an interest in science."
- Peter Main, Director of Education and Science, Institute of Physics, UK
"Don't think that reductionism is just 'this is how scientists can explain everything'. As you read this book you will discover that its counterpart is 'emergence'. I hope that it will stimulate you to wonder at the structure of our universe."
- Ted Forgan, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, UK
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Alastair I.M. Rae is author of the bestselling Quantum Physics: A Beginner's Guide and the popular textbook Quantum Mechanics (now in its fourth edition). For many years, he was Reader in Quantum Physics at the University of Birmingham.