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

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

by Adam Becker


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"A thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science." —New York Times Book Review

An Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review
Longlisted for PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing
Longlisted for Goodreads Choice Award

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 solipsistic and poorly reasoned Copenhagen interpretation. Indeed, questioning it has long meant professional ruin, yet some daring physicists, such as 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.
"An excellent, accessible account." —Wall Street Journal
"Splendid. . . . Deeply detailed research, accompanied by charming anecdotes about the scientists." —Washington Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541698970
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 236,266
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Adam Becker is a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics. He has written for the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, Scientific American, New Scientist, and other publications. He is a visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley's Office for History of Science and Technology. He lives in California.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Prologue: The Impossible Done 9

Part I A Tranquilizing Philosophy

1 The Measure of All Things 13

2 Something Rotten in the Eigenstate of Denmark 21

3 Street Brawl 43

4 Copenhagen in Manhattan 61

Part II Quantum Dissidents

5 Physics in Exile 89

6 It Came from Another World! 117

7 The Most Profound Discovery of Science 141

8 More Things in Heaven and Earth 163

Part III The Great Enterprise

9 Reality Underground 193

10 Quantum Spring 219

11 Copenhagen Versus the Universe 243

12 Outrageous Fortune 267

Appendix: Four Views of the Strangest Experiment 289

Acknowledgments 295

Permissions 299

Notes 301

References 343

Index 357

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