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Publisher's Summary

The untold story of the heretical thinkers who dared to question the nature of our quantum universe 

Every physicist agrees quantum mechanics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments. As a result, questioning the status quo long meant professional ruin.

And yet, from the 1920s to today, physicists like John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett persisted in seeking the true meaning of quantum mechanics. What Is Real? is the gripping story of this battle of ideas and the courageous scientists who dared to stand up for truth.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2018 Adam Becker (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good, "light" "read"... potential caveat below...

Any additional comments?

The thesis of this book is that there still exists an unresolved and embarrassing discrepancy between the Copenhagen interpretation of the measurement problem and alternative, “equally valid” interpretations (i.e. many worlds, pilot waves, decoherence, etc.) for enough physicists to consider it an "interesting" topic still, but not to all.

Written by a philosopher+physicist, the book leans more toward what I would expect from a journalist-philosopher who enjoys “controversial physics porn”. I gave it high marks because I think it is a great book for the general populace; and because, though I thought at first I would have preferred deeper analysis of the physics concepts underlying the main thesis of the book, I was happy to have explored this lighter perspective. In fact, it has inspired me to check out at least one other similarly-titled book.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 04-25-18

The book ends "I don't know"

This book is not really about what is real and the author does not know.
Instead it is yet another, middle of the pack, retelling of a slice of the history of quantum theory.

This book does a few things better than others in this sub-sub-genera:
It disparages the Copenhagen interpretation of QM as not fit to be a theory.
It focuses on Bell, Bohm, and Everett as examples of those that questioned the Copenhagen interpretation.

This was fine as far as it went, but the author either does not understand or does not believe these alternative theories. He goes on about randomness being fundamental to quantum reality while Bell, Bohm, and Everett are trying to say there are alternatives to randomness (deterministic non-locality or multi-world or something else).

I prefer The Trouble with Physics which. I think, makes similar points better and clearer.

The narration is good, clear, and has a pleasant upbeat tone.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Where are the figures referred to? PDF please!

Great narration and history, but can be difficult to follow when complicated ideas are discussed without a PDF. Examples are when narrator refers to multiple figures ("see figure such and such") when talking about thought experiments related to Bell's inequality. I searched in vain for a PDF associated with the book, which it certainly SHOULD have.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

More history than expected but ended up liking that

There was a lot of background on key figures throughout the growth of physics. At first I was annoyed by this and wanted more physics. As the book progressed, however, I found it fascinating and essential to understanding he progression of physics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Overview of Quantum Foundations

This is a very well written and narrated historical overview of quantum physics that brings us into the present (i.e., this goes well beyond the discussions between Einstein and Bohr). The account detailed herein is as much about the physics as it is about the individuals involved in developing the theory. The writing is clear and understandable, although if you are entirely new to quantum physics be forewarned this is not an easy topic. It is, however, incredibly interesting. As the title suggests, this is a book about the physical nature of reality as it relates to our more basic understanding thereof, and the author has given us a truly delightful historical narrative interweaved therewith. Excellent work to everyone involved in the production of this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Quantum physics 101

Slightly subjective explanation of the history of quantum physics as well as the various theories that have arisen to explain the quantum world.

An easy to follow intro without the scientific jargon found in similar books. Easy to follow and understand if you do not have a background in physics, or science for that matter.

I have to say I’m a bit disappointed that academia allows fanaticism, bureaucracy and politics to hinder scientific progress. Scientists with new ideas should be encouraged not chastised for questioning the status quo (Copenhagen interpretation for example.)
That said, I subscribe partially to Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation though I see those worlds more as probabilities than realities, with consciousness being the true universal wave form entangled throughout all worlds on some level.

A good book to read after this one is “Is there life after death,” by Anthony Peake. I think the books complement each other well.

Great read and I appreciate the author’s passion about physics and his respect for philosophy (unkind so other physicists.)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!

Excellent historical account of pilot wave theory. This almost religious furver and rejection of good science based on politics and personal gain by those opposed to it. Unfortunately people really do shut down genius due to jealousy, personal gain and plain inability to see the facts due to personal bays and limited intelligence.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

So much more depth than other books about the history of quantum physics

I am a non-physicists, but enjoy the topic and have read many books on the subject intended for the lay audience. I realized how much I had been missing once I started listening to this. Excellent.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • al
  • 08-23-18

science and culture - a cautionary lesson

the take away is not too surprising but I was surprised by how students of science are as unconscious of their thinking
"fast and slow" as they are
@

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Narrator & Book

Narrator is easy to understand and entertaining. Subject matter was explained perfectly, easy to follow.