What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

Adam Becker. Basic, $32 (384p) ISBN 978-0-465-09605-3
Quantum physics is “stubbornly mute on the question” of what is real, writes science writer Becker in this fresh debut. Most physicists in the early 20th century believed quantum physics revealed nothing about the everyday world; it was seen as the “shut up and calculate method.” It’s the dissenters to that view who take center stage here: scientist David Bohm challenged the status quo with his pilot-wave theory in the 1950s; Hugh Everett followed his curiosity to the sci-fi–like “many-worlds” interpretation; and John Stewart Bell’s “scathing critic’s pen” led to his eponymous theorem, later called the “most profound discovery of science.” Catchy chapter openers (“It was the Summer of Love in New York City, and John Clauser was cooped up in a room at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies”) and vivid biographical portraits enliven even dense theoretical explanations with wit and bite. Readers trace decades of experiments, alternative philosophies, and surprising drama in the physics boys’ club to three intriguing possibilities: “Either nature is nonlocal in some way, or we live in branching multiple worlds despite appearances to the contrary”—or quantum physics is incomplete. With his crisp voice, Becker lucidly relates the complicated history of quantum foundations. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 03/20/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-5385-3666-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5385-3664-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5385-3665-0
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-5416-9897-0
Ebook - 978-0-465-09606-0
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