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“A thrilling survey of the most famous, enduring, and enigmatic experiment in the history of science.”
Kirkus, starred review

Publishing details

Publisher: Dutton, Penguin Random House, USA

For publicity please contact:

Emily Canders, Senior Publicist, Dutton, Penguin Random House


The intellectual adventure story of the “double-slit” experiment, showing how a sunbeam split into two paths first challenged our understanding of light and then the nature of reality itself–and continues to almost 200 years later.

Many of the greatest scientific minds have grappled with this experiment. Thomas Young devised it in the early 1800s to show that light behaves like a wave, and in doing so opposed Isaac Newton’s view that light is made of particles. But then Albert Einstein showed that light comes in quanta, or particles. Quantum mechanics was born. This led to a fierce debate between Einstein and Niels Bohr over the nature of reality–subatomic bits of matter and its interaction with light–again as revealed by the double-slit experiment. Richard Feynman held that it embodies the central mystery of the quantum world. Decade after decade, hypothesis after hypothesis, scientists have returned to this ingenious experiment to help them answer deeper and deeper questions about the fabric of the universe.

How can a single particle behave both like a particle and a wave? Does a particle, or indeed reality, exist before we look at it, or does looking create reality, as the textbook “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum mechanics seems to suggest? How can particles influence each other faster than the speed of light? Is there a place where the quantum world ends and the familiar classical world of our daily lives begins, and if so, can we find it? And if there’s no such place, then does the universe split into two each time a particle goes through the double-slit?

Through Two Doors at Once celebrates the elegant simplicity of an iconic experiment and its profound reach. With his extraordinarily gifted eloquence, Anil Ananthaswamy travels around the world, through history and down to the smallest scales of physical reality we have yet fathomed. It is the most fantastic voyage you can take.

Advance praise/reviews

“A thrilling survey of the most famous, enduring, and enigmatic experiment in the history of science…If the subject matter sounds intimidating, fear not. The author is a brilliant scientific storyteller, and he makes sense of even the most nonsensical concepts in clear, compelling prose…Ananthaswamy delivers a book that has all the intrigue of science fiction while remaining rooted in the scientific real, however bizarre.” —Kirkus, starred review (click here for full review)

“Wondrous book.  If I were boarding the Trans-Siberian Railway in Moscow, Anil Ananthaswamy is the companion I’d want in the Lounge car.  I would buy him a very good Scotch, say ‘Tell me about quantum physics and the scientists who created it,’ and then I’d sit back contentedly for the seven days to Vladivostok, and listen.” –David Quammen, award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo and (forthcoming) The Tangled Tree

“Upon opening his two quantum doors, Anil Ananthaswamy invites us into the bizarre and wacky world of nature on the smallest of scales.  An engaging raconteur, he tells us a story that is confounding, disturbing, and yet eminently fascinating.  Ananthaswamy serves as the perfect tour guide to physics’ wild side by closely examining one of its most famous experiments.” –Marcia Bartusiak, MIT, award-winning author of Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony and Dispatches from Planet 3

“The double-slit experiment is among the most important experiments ever conducted, both scientifically and historically. In this brisk and enjoyable book, Anil Ananthaswamy gives the double-slit the biography it has long deserved. Anyone interested in the true nature of our quantum world should read this book.” –Adam Becker, Ph.D., author of What Is Real?

“All the strangeness of the quantum world is revealed as Ananthaswamy skillfully weaves an almost magical tale out of who, what, when, where and the elusive why surrounding modern versions of an experiment first performed over two hundred years ago. A must read for all those interested in the nature of reality.” –Manjit Kumar, author of Quantum

“Like quantum particles encountering the fabled double slit, physicists have traveled many different paths in trying to parse the beguiling implications of quantum theory. Through Two Doors at Once is a marvelous guide to the leading ideas – and the stakes – in that century-long quest.” –David Kaiser, MIT, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics

“The first time I saw the double-slit experiment, I thought it was a trick. Even now that I know it’s real, it still seems like magic. In his new book, Anil Ananthaswamy brings alive the magic of quantum mechanics.” –Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist and author of Lost in Math

"Quantum mechanics asks us to believe a number of bizarre things about the nature of reality. But these demands don't arise out of thin air; they are forced on us by experiments. Anil Ananthaswamy has provided a lively introduction to the most paradigmatic of these: the (in)famous double-slit experiment." –Sean Carroll, Caltech, author of The Big Picture

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