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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

What listeners say about What Is Real?

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

5 people found this helpful

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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

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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

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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

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Essential reading for anyone interested in physic.

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

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meaurement problem lived

a tour through the deep insight of every person of relevence, really felt like I understood each person in historys view point and why they held it. facinating from start to finish. read tons of similar books, but such a refreshing view point and so much more personal persepctive. highly recommend

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A marvelloius story, well-told.

I was aware of the physics involved before listening to this splendid audio book, having something of a background in it, but what I wasn't aware of was the history of the personalities of all the scientists involved and how their individual contributions sometimes complemented (pun intended) and sometimes interfered with (another pun intended) one another.
A thoroughly engrossing, detailed and enjoyable telling of a most important story.

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Quite hard going, (for me).

Not easy digested, but never expected to comprehend it, really. A good history of QP in most respects.

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Pronunciation is Wrong

The narrator really should know how to pronounce "Sagan" as in Carl Sagan and "Principia" for isaac newton's "principia mathematica". i'm enjoying the book though!

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  • Max Inglis
  • 01-06-21

great insight into the mind of quantum physicists

quantum phychiss is full offundamentally pious idiots looking to make a name for them selves - pagans got it correct

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  • G B.
  • 14-09-19

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.

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  • stefano
  • 21-08-19

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-07-18

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