What Is Real?

What Is Real?

The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

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.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Science / Physics

On Sale: March 20th 2018

Price: $32

Page Count: 384

ISBN-13: 9780465096053

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Praise

"[A] fresh debut.... Vivid biographical portraits enliven even dense theoretical explanations with wit and bite.... With his crisp voice, Becker lucidly relates the complicated history of quantum foundations."—Publishers Weekly
"A useful introduction to the history of quantum theory for scientifically inclined readers."—Kirkus Reviews
"Becker...takes readers on a deep dive into the battle for the heart of quantum physics."—Unbound Worlds
"Quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful theory, but for decades physicists have been in stubborn denial about what the theory actually says about the nature of reality. Adam Becker's wonderful book recounts the colorful history of the reality debates, and makes the case that Einstein was right all along."—Sean Carroll, author of The Big Picture
"In this immensely well-researched book, Adam Becker explores the little-known history of principled critiques of the quantum physics establishment, tracing a fascinating skein from the Einstein-Bohr debates all the way to the proliferation of alternatives in the 1970s and beyond. Thorough in its detailed treatment of the key players and their contributions, What Is Real? offers an essential guide to the great quantum controversies that are still raging strong."—Paul Halpern, author of The Quantum Labyrinth
"Quantum mechanics is astoundingly successful, but its proper meaning and interpretation remains an open question that vexes physicists to this day. Adam Becker brings this topic to life by explaining the science, and the ongoing human struggle to make sense of the quantum world. His book reads like a novel."—Art Friedman, co-author of Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory