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Jeffrey Barrett presents the most comprehensive study yet of a problem that has puzzled physicists and philosophers since the 1930s. The standard theory of quantum mechanics is in one sense the most successful physical theory ever, predicting the behaviour of the basic constituents of all physical things; no other theory has ever made such accurate empirical predictions. However, if one tries to understand the theory as providing a complete and accurate framework for the description of the behaviour of all physical interactions, it becomes evident that the theory is ambiguous, or even logically inconsistent. The most notable attempt to formulate the theory so as to deal with this problem, the quantum measurement problem, was initiated by Hugh Everett III in the 1950s. Barrett gives a careful and challenging examination and evaluation of the work of Everett and those who have followed him. His informal approach, minimizing technicality, will make the book accessible and illuminating for philosophers and physicists alike. Anyone interested in the interpretation of quantum mechanics should read it.
What does realism about the quantum state imply? What follows when quantum theory is applied without restriction, if need be, to the whole universe? These are the questions which an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists debate in this volume. All the contributors are agreed on realism, and on the need, or the aspiration, for a theory that unites micro- and macroworlds, at least in principle. But the further claim argued by some is that if you allow the Schrödinger equation unrestricted application, supposing the quantum state to be something physically real, then this universe is one of countlessly many others, constantly branching in time, all of which are real. The result is the many worlds theory, also known as the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. The contrary claim sees this picture of many worlds as in no sense inherent in quantum mechanics, even when the latter is allowed unrestricted scope and even given that the quantum state itself is something physically real. For this picture of branching worlds fails to make physical sense, let alone common sense, even on its own terms. The status of these worlds, what they are made of, is never adequately explained. Ordinary ideas about time and identity over time become hopelessly compromised. The concept of probability itself is brought into question. This picture of many branching worlds is inchoate, it is a vision, an error. There are realist alternatives to many worlds, some even that preserve the Schrödinger equation unchanged. Twenty specially written essays, accompanied by commentaries and discussions, examine these claims and counterclaims in depth. They focus first on the question of ontology, the existence of worlds (Part 1 and 2), second on the interpretation of probability (Parts 3 and 4), and third on alternatives or additions to many worlds (Parts 5 and 6). The introduction offers a helpful guide to the arguments for the Everett interpretation, particularly as they have been formulated in the last two decades.
Quantum theory is our very best description of the microscopic world of atoms and their constituents. It has given us lasers, computers and nuclear reactors, and even tells us how the sun shines and why the ground beneath our feet is solid. Yet the quantum world defies our sensibilities - it is a place where objects can be in two places at once, influence each other at opposite sides of the cosmos and nothing is as it seems until you measure it. Why is the quantum world so strange? Where does it begin and end? And what does this mean for the bedrock of reality? In attempting to address such frontier questions, physicists have come to realise that the quantum world promises exciting new technologies: the ability to communicate with absolute security, computers more powerful than anything built before and even quantum teleportation. In The Quantum World, leading physicists and New Scientist take us on journey through the quantum world, its mind-bending properties and the technologies transforming our world. There is a sting in the tale: is quantum theory truly the ultimate theory of reality?
Here is a collection of writings that bridges the gap between science and religion. Quantum Questions collects the mystical writings of each of the major physicists involved in the discovery of quantum physics and relativity, including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and Max Planck. The selections are written in nontechnical language and will be of interest to scientists and nonscientists alike.
Metaphysicians should pay attention to quantum mechanics. Why? Not because it provides definitive answers to many metaphysical questions-the theory itself is remarkably silent on the nature of the physical world, and the various interpretations of the theory on offer present conflicting ontological pictures. Rather, quantum mechanics is essential to the metaphysician because it reshapes standard metaphysical debates and opens up unforeseen new metaphysical possibilities. Even if quantum mechanics provides few clear answers, there are good reasons to think that any adequate understanding of the quantum world will result in a radical reshaping of our classical world-view in some way or other. Whatever the world is like at the atomic scale, it is almost certainly not the swarm of particles pushed around by forces that is often presupposed. This book guides readers through the theory of quantum mechanics and its implications for metaphysics in a clear and accessible way. The theory and its various interpretations are presented with a minimum of technicality. The consequences of these interpretations for metaphysical debates concerning realism, indeterminacy, causation, determinism, holism, and individuality (among other topics) are explored in detail, stressing the novel form that the debates take given the empirical facts in the quantum domain. While quantum mechanics may not deliver unconditional pronouncements on these issues, the range of possibilities consistent with our knowledge of the empirical world is relatively small-and each possibility is metaphysically revisionary in some way. This book will appeal to researchers, students, and anybody else interested in how science informs our world-view.
John Bell, FRS was one of the leading expositors and interpreters of modern quantum theory. He is particularly famous for his discovery of the crucial difference between the predictions of conventional quantum mechanics and the implications of local causality, a concept insisted on by Einstein. John Bell's work played a major role in the development of our current understanding of the profound nature of quantum concepts and of the fundamental limitations they impose on the applicability of the classical ideas of space, time and locality. This book includes all of John Bell's published and unpublished papers on the conceptual and philosophical problems of quantum mechanics, including two papers that appeared after the first edition was published. The book includes a short Preface written by the author for the first edition, and also an introduction by Alain Aspect that puts into context John Bell's enormous contribution to the quantum philosophy debate.
Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982), whose "many worlds" theory of multiple universes has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the general reader, a detailed portrait of the genius who invented an astonishing way of describing our complex universe from the inside. Everett's mathematical model (called the "universal wave function") treats all possible events as "equally real", and concludes that countless copies of every person and thing exist in all possible configurations spread over an infinity of universes: many worlds. Afflicted by depression and addictions, Everett strove to bring rational order to the professional realms in which he played historically significant roles. In addition to his famous interpretation of quantum mechanics, Everett wrote a classic paper in game theory; created computer algorithms that revolutionized military operations research; and performed pioneering work in artificial intelligence for top secret government projects. He wrote the original software for targeting cities in a nuclear hot war; and he was one of the first scientists to recognize the danger of nuclear winter. As a Cold Warrior, he designed logical systems that modeled "rational" human and machine behaviors, and yet he was largely oblivious to the emotional damage his irrational personal behavior inflicted upon his family, lovers, and business partners. He died young, but left behind a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with such philosophically inclined physicists as Niels Bohr, Norbert Wiener, and John Wheeler. These remarkable letters illuminate the long and often bitter struggle to explain the paradox of measurement at the heart of quantum physics. In recent years, Everett's solution to this mysterious problem - the existence of a universe of universes - has gained considerable traction in scientific circles, not as science fiction, but as an explanation of physical reality.

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