Skip to main content

Emergence in Condensed Matter and Quantum Gravity

A Nontechnical Review

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • A broad and comprehensible review of emergence
  • Demystifies concepts that are notoriously hard to visualize, such as topological order
  • Brings the reader up to speed on the latest thinking about black holes and gravity

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Physics (SpringerBriefs in Physics)

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this book

eBook USD 29.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book USD 37.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access

Licence this eBook for your library

Institutional subscriptions

About this book

This book surveys the science at a semipopular, Scientific American-level. It is even-handed with regard to competing directions of research and philosophical positions. It is hard to get even two people to agree on anything, yet a million billion water molecules can suddenly and abruptly coordinate to lock themselves into an ice crystal or liberate one another to billow outwards as steam. The marvelous self-organizing capacity of matter is one of the central and deepest puzzles of physics, with implications for all the natural sciences. Physicists in the past century have found a remarkable diversity of phases of matter—and equally remarkable commonalities within that diversity. The pace of discovery has, if anything, only quickened in recent years with the appreciation of quantum phases of matter and so-called topological order. The study of seemingly humdrum materials has made contact with the more exotic realm of quantum gravity, as theorists realize that the spacetime continuummay itself be a phase of some deeper and still unknown constituents. These developments flesh out the sometimes vague concept of the emergence—how exactly it is that complexity begets simplicity.

Similar content being viewed by others


Table of contents (4 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glen Ridge, USA

    George Musser

About the author

George Musser completed his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Brown University and his graduate studies in planetary science at Cornell University, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. His thesis work, under the supervision of Steven Squyres, modeled mantle convection on Venus.
From 1994 to 1998, George was the Editor of Mercury magazine and of The Universe in the Classroom tutorial series at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, a science and science-education nonprofit based in San Francisco. At Scientific American from 1998 to 2012, he was the Senior Editor for space science and fundamental physics. During this period, the magazine won two National Magazine Awards, and two projects that he coordinated were National Magazine Award finalists: a single-topic issue on environmental sustainability, “Crossroads for Planet Earth,” and the staff opinion column. A number of articles he edited were anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and he has received writing awards from the American Astronomical Society and the American Institute of Physics.

George Musser's first book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory, was published by Alpha in 2008. He has written two more trade books for Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, one on quantum physics (Spooky Action at a Distance) the other (forthcoming) on physics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. In 2014 and 2015, he was a Knight Science Journalist Fellow at MIT. He is a Freelance Editor and Writer for Scientific AmericanNautilusQuantaScienceThe New York TimesAeonPsychology Today, and other magazines.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Emergence in Condensed Matter and Quantum Gravity

  • Book Subtitle: A Nontechnical Review

  • Authors: George Musser

  • Series Title: SpringerBriefs in Physics

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Physics and Astronomy, Physics and Astronomy (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-09894-9Published: 11 August 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-09895-6Published: 10 August 2022

  • Series ISSN: 2191-5423

  • Series E-ISSN: 2191-5431

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 95

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations, 5 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Materials Science, general, Classical and Quantum Gravitation, Relativity Theory

Publish with us