For the better part of a century, attempts to explain what was really going on in the quantum world seemed doomed to failure. But recent technological advances have made the question both practical and urgent. A brilliantly imaginative group of physicists at Oxford University have risen to the challenge. This is their story.
At long last, there is a sensible way to think about quantum mechanics. The new view abolishes the need to believe in randomness, long-range spooky forces, or conscious observers with mysterious powers to collapse cats into a state of life or death. But the new understanding comes at a price: we must accept that we live in a multiverse wherein countless versions of reality unfold side-by-side. The philosophical and personal consequences of this are awe-inspiring.
The new interpretation has allowed imaginative physicists to conceive of wonderful new technologies: measuring devices that effectively share information between worlds and computers that can borrow the power of other worlds to perform calculations. Step by step, the problems initially associated with the original many-worlds formulation have been addressed and answered so that a clear but startling new picture has emerged.
Just as Copenhagen was the centre of quantum discussion a lifetime ago, so Oxford has been the epicenter of the modern debate, with such figures as Roger Penrose and Anton Zeilinger fighting for single-world views, and David Deutsch, Lev Vaidman and a host of others for many-worlds.
An independent physicist living in Oxford, Bruce has had a ringside seat to the debate. In his capable hands, we understand why the initially fantastic sounding many-worlds view is not only a useful way to look at things, but logically compelling. Parallel worlds are as real as the distant galaxies detected by the Hubble Space Telescope, even though the evidence for their existence may consist only of a few photons.
"In these pages, [Bruce] provides an accessible overview of the issues that have plagued physicists working in the quantum world as well as of the Oxford group's possible solutions for those issues."
-- Science News, Dec 18 & 25, 2004
"This awe-inspiring book not only examines the discoveries, theories and concepts of 'old,' but how new information and research has drastically altered those oft out-dated theories and replaced them with theories that even Einstein himself would be proud of. ... Bruce often uses games, experiments and tricks to explain the dynamics of the theories, which make the book somewhat more of a brainteaser than other 'physics' books, and offer the reader a tangible way to 'visualize' the concepts. ... [Bruce] does a great job of blending science fact with speculation and never loses the reader in a mindless bog of equations and arguments. Instead, we are left with a feeling that we actually understand the concepts of locality, of parallel universes, of quantum theory, even if we don t know the intricate weave of math and science behind them. ... The reader is left with a breathtaking sense of what the future holds for scientific discovery, especially in the eerie quantum world where each year, it seems, we come closer and closer to some downright incredible and tantalizing truths about the world we live in, and our place in it."
-- Curled Up with A Good Book
"This is one of the best books to tackle the subject of the care and feeding of the many worlds hypothesis. With no recapping of the basics, this book is a delight in every way, revealing details that other more sober titles have missed, while making sure that the writing is a joy throughout."
-- FOCUS, March 2005
"To the average reader trying to understand current theories of the subatomic quantum world, terms like nonlocality, decoherence and quantum collapse must sound like fantastical notions tossed about at an ivory-tower tea party. British physicist Bruce attempts to put into plain English what physicists, especially those based in Oxford, think is happening in this invisible world that binds the universe together. ... Bruce illustrates these mind-altering concepts via accessible stories and illustrations."
-- Publishers Weekly, October 18
"Schrödinger's Rabbits made me feel less bad for never having understood quantum physics. Excellent for broadening the mind of the non-expert; valuable psychotherapy for the confused physicist."
-- Joao Magueijo, author of Faster Than the Speed of Light
"A lucid and vivid exposition of a murky subject which famously confuses even professional physicists."
-- A. Zee, author of Einstein's Universe and Fearful Symmetry
"Bruce's witty, fast-paced account of current controversies in quantum physics will keep you on the edge of your seat. An eloquent introduction to one of the deepest mysteries in modern science."
-- Paul Halpern, author of The Great Beyond: Higher Dimensions, Parallel Universes and the Extraordinary Search for a Theory of Everything
"Mr. Bruce is our expert tour guide on a wild, thought-provoking ride through the Twilight Zone world of quantum theory, where objects can be two places at the same time, disappear and reappear somewhere else, and exist simultaneously in many parallel universes."
-- Michio Kaku, author of Hyperspace, Parallel Worlds, and Einstein's Cosmos
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