cover image Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

Sean Carroll. Dutton, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4301-7

Theoretical physicist Carroll (The Big Picture) explores holes in the foundation of modern physics in this challenging, provocative book. Quantum mechanics is, according to Carroll, “the deepest, most comprehensive view of reality we know of.” But while it answers questions about how the universe works at the microscopic level, quantum theory still, nearly 100 years after its introduction, has unresolved issues. Albert Einstein disdained quantum mechanics as “spooky” and said it would never be complete, and so far, Carroll says, he’s been right. Carroll presents his argument with words rather than math, striving to make even the most abstract ideas clear. At the heart of his discussion are equations called “wave functions” that describe the real world. The problem is that wave functions have many possible solutions and each describes a branch, or another reality, in spacetime. Carroll gives a sense of both the frustration and the wonder that the many-worlds theory inspires, and what it implies about free will and human consciousness. Moving smoothly through different topics and from objects as small as particles to those as enormous as black holes, Carroll’s exploration of quantum theory introduces readers to some of the most groundbreaking ideas in physics today. (Sept.)

This review has been updated with more precise language regarding wave functions.