adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $27.27

Buy for $27.27

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The untold story of the heretical thinkers who challenged the establishment to rethink quantum physics and the nature of reality.

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 favoured 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 on our Desktop Site.

  

©2018 Adam Becker (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc

More from the same

What listeners say about What Is Real?

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    29
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    28
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    24
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

philosophy and politics versus science

The book is an interesting account of the various people that played a role in the development of quantum physics, the famous like Schroedinger, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Bell and Feinman, but also the lesser known to the public like Everet, Wheeler, Bohm and Podolsky.
More precisely it tells about the divide in the scientific community on the interpretation of quantum physics and what it means; what we understand/believe to be how reality is structured. It is a story about the culture of science; how scientists got inspired to come up with new theories and how the political and philosophical climate supported some and not others in the academic world.

The author makes a case for the relevance of the interpretation, stating there is still a large portion of the community that disregards the meaning and holds a utilitarian view: "as long as the math works and it helps us to predict the outcomes of experiments, what does it matter?" In the book, he refutes this with a thought experiment about a remote control and hypothetical dead batteries.
Another is the lagging influence of the logical positivist philosophy that holds that only observable phenomena have any meaning and the unobservable, like the atom that was hypothesized before it was seen, have no meaning.

Having read news articles about the loophole-free Bell test which proves quantum entanglement, the measurement of gravity waves, the discovery of the Higgs boson and the development of quantum computers that use q-bits in a probabilistic way, I was interested to listen to the different emerging theories and find out how they were first conceived or proven.
Even though the subject matter is sometimes quite thick or confusing the narrator does a really good job of keeping my attention.
In the end, the point has been driven home that theories that inform our fundamental understanding of the world are needed and are what drives science forward in a certain direction, and this decides for a large part what experiments are done.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Lucid and courageous. Einstein avenger

Loved this book. It starts as a narrative from the very early days of quantum theory till today. It ends with a lucid analysis about science and philosophy. the (brave) author doesn’t spare Neils Bohr and his followers accusations of intellectual dishonesty. Einstein and others victims of the Copenaghen imposition are avenged.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

jarring and entertaining

well worth the time and energy (pun intended) to follow along the various thought experiments that the author takes you to.

great read

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Hanna
  • Hanna
  • 04-24-19

excellent history of quantum

It was a pleasure to endulge in the drama of last century's phisicians and to see how that affected their theories. excellent book for anyone who has interest in quantum, but is not necessary science minded. the physics concepts are easily explained here, but like the other reviews say, it's mostly focused on historic aspect.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Simon
  • Simon
  • 08-13-18

Best Quantum Physics Audio book out of 20 i have

This book is both comprehensive and well written. The fact that it is chronological provides real insight into the melase of regurgitation that other books offer. if you want an introduction to Quantum Physics... this is the book for you. Apart from Bells inequality, its easy to digest and covers the philosophical weaknessess in the Copenhagen interpretation the best i have seen. The measurement problem and issues around locality are well focused and detailed. Other books may cover relativity, many worlds, string theory and spacial dimentions better. But this one book could have replaced 10 others i have bought. Top marks

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ronan
  • Ronan
  • 06-14-18

A lighthearted look at the quantum politics

Really Easy to listen to and enjoyable. I liked the almost biographical element to the book. Took a quite dry subject added some big characters, their backgrounds and breakthroughs and threw it all together. Very enjoyable and did explain the basics of quantum mechanics and the arguments that still rage to this day. Some of the quips made me laugh out loud and the ashes thing still makes me smile. One thing for the narrator... My family are from Ireland and your Belfast accent sounded like a mild Liverpool one to me. I understand a Belfast accent maybe hard for American listeners to understand bit other than that the delivery was excellent.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-04-18

More history than physics

The book is about physics history, so if you expect a book on Quantum Physics, you will most likely be disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Erik
  • Erik
  • 07-12-18

Pretty solid and readable book

Essentially, quantum mechanics can't be boring. The double slit experiment and delayed choise experiment keep on dazzling the mind. However, this dazzling is why you read a QM book. The title of this book gave me hope that in the last 20 years there might have been found a more suitable answer for the interpretation of QM. Unfortunately, this book does not provide an answer, it just sums up the different historical viewpoints/interpretations from many different theoretical physicists. Essentially, if you read some QM books before there is not much new in here, although the historical in depth story is quite appreciable. For my taste, it would be nice if there were more practical examples as a change. The last chapters tease a bit with modern day applications and explanations of phenomena, but it sticks with mentioning, while explaining would have been nice. In the end, a pretty solid and readable book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for interseller_uk
  • interseller_uk
  • 06-10-18

Essential reading for anyone interested in physic.

Essential reading for anyone interested in physic. Well though out and interestring book on quantum theory

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Eder Souza
  • Eder Souza
  • 02-26-21

Good enough

Well narrated, just the subject could be approached differently. A bit of fantasy applied .

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Luca Ambrogioni
  • Luca Ambrogioni
  • 02-03-21

Interesting but too opinionated

Some part of the book are good. It's well written and full of interesting stories and insights. However, the author is in some places insufferably arrogant and enforces a very biased narrative. Handle with care.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Phil R
  • Phil R
  • 12-18-20

superb book and extremely well read.

I'm not normally driven to review anything but this book is stunning in content and story and brilliantly read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for RG
  • RG
  • 09-23-20

Excellent

I am just approaching the subject of quantum physics and I am interested in the philosophy of science. I found that this was a great book to start with, as it gives a historical perspective of the development of quantum physics theories, without ever being overwhelming in terms of details or math. It also gives interesting perspectives on the links between science and philosophy. I would recommend it to people like me, who are not experts but are interested and curious about the general meaning and implications of quantum physics and its historic developments.
One valuable contribution of this book, in its chronological account of the quantum physics discoveries and theories and the personalities involved, and contrary to common wisdom, is to show how inefficient science development can be at times, with valuable theories being summarily dismissed, misunderstood or completely ignored for decades.
The book is really very enjoyable to read/listen, I strongly recommend it.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mike
  • Mike
  • 08-31-19

Fantastic survey of the observation problem, albeit biased.

Probably the best survey material and narrative on the central conceptual issues in Quantum Philosophy.

I would recommend this more to people who have already had some exposure to Quantum Physics, but may be struggling to get their head around it. In this regard you are indeed in esteemed company, as this likely means you are now accurately understanding the concepts at play.

This is not the calculation heavy physics that will be taught in most undergrad or surveys that you many see online, it is a historical narrative of Quantum foundations, albeit a biased on, as may indeed be the case with all retelling of histories.

It is biased against the Copenhagen interpretation/s, this point is acceptable as long as you understand and categories the bias and work with it. Indeed the scientific method is about the mental separation from paradigms and narrative, and the theoretical modelling of testable/repeatable hypothesis (ie observable) To this end the Copenhagen is the most scientific sound version on all the hypotheticals as it does not necessarily appeal claims to more than what can be observed (or in this case can’t) explicitly.

That said, the point of the narrative is that paradigms, however scientifically ‘sound’ are by a sort of tautological principal to be overcome and that the Copenhagen was inconsistent with itself to a grievous degree with its dogmatism.

Overall a very worth listen, could not recommend it more enthusiastically, but recommend some terminology orientation and theoretical work before hand so as you can guide yourself through it all the same, as is perhaps with all narrative information.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Diana Prince
  • Diana Prince
  • 01-30-19

Brilliant!

As good as a wholesome crime thriller! You can read it again and again and it will show you the universe in a handful of sand.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 12-12-19

excellent book

best book on quantum theory I have read. I understand a lot more about it now and the weirdness is just weird, and not downright silly.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Veronica
  • Veronica
  • 11-16-19

Fascinating

This was my first foray into quantum physics and I found it easy to follow (well, as easy as such a topic could be) and surprisingly entertaining.