Fabric of Reality

David Deutsch, Author, Deutsch, Author
David Deutsch, Author, Deutsch, Author Viking Books $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7139-9061-4
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Philosophy, biology, computer science and quantum physics all converge in this ambitious theoretical work by Deutsch, an expert in quantum computation at Oxford University. Interweaving the four disciplines, Deutsch provides a model of reality that is as provocative as it is complex. Building on such diverse topics as the evolution of knowledge, biological Darwinism, time travel, virtual reality and parallel universes, Deutsch describes a reality where parallel universes are ""stacked like a pack of playing cards"" to comprise a ""multiverse,"" with computers communicating between them, where the mechanics and likelihood of time travel exist and where the universe comes to an end. Though many of Deutsch's conclusions and their core assumptions are controversial--which to his credit, he acknowledges--the work remains an intellectually stimulating read for the science-literate and motivated lay person, in the tradition of Hawking's A Brief History of Time and Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach. The author exhibits not only a thorough knowledge of his subject matter but a genuine desire to draw the lay reader into the complexities, paradoxes and possibilities surrounding quantum physics. In a particularly effective manner, each chapter begins by outlining basic scientific history or concepts before delving into the complex, and ends with a glossary and summary, both invaluable tools for the lay reader. In a field where scientific inquiry challenges not only our imagination but basic assumptions about our physical world, this volume provides the essential information needed for future debates, regardless of whether Deutsch's conclusions are ever accepted as scientific doctrine. (Aug.)