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Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, & Reality

Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, & Reality [Kindle Edition]

David Wallace , Simon Saunders , Jonathan Barrett , Adrian Kent
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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written with great clarity by some of the best minds in contemporary foundations of physics... a fine read, summarizing nicely the state of the art in one of the most radical no-collapse interpretations of quantum theory. (Amit Hagar, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

Product Description

What would it mean to apply quantum theory, without restriction and without involving any notion of measurement and state reduction, to the whole universe? What would realism about the quantum state then imply?

This book brings together an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists to debate these questions. The contributors broadly agree on the need, or aspiration, for a realist theory that unites micro- and macro-worlds. But they disagree on what this implies. Some argue that if unitary quantum evolution has unrestricted application, and if the quantum state is taken to be something physically real, then this universe emerges from the quantum state as one of countless others, constantly
branching in time, all of which are real. The result, they argue, is many worlds quantum theory, also known as the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. No other realist interpretation of unitary quantum theory has ever been found.

Others argue in reply that this picture of many worlds is in no sense inherent to quantum theory, or fails to make physical sense, or is scientifically inadequate. The stuff of these worlds, what they are made of, is never adequately explained, nor are the worlds precisely defined; ordinary ideas about time and identity over time are compromised; no satisfactory role or substitute for probability can be found in many worlds theories; they can't explain experimental data; anyway, there are
attractive realist alternatives to many worlds.

Twenty original essays, accompanied by commentaries and discussions, examine these claims and counterclaims in depth. They consider questions of ontology - the existence of worlds; probability - whether and how probability can be related to the branching structure of the quantum state; alternatives to many worlds - whether there are one-world realist interpretations of quantum theory that leave quantum dynamics unchanged; and open questions even given many worlds, including the multiverse
concept as it has arisen elsewhere in modern cosmology. A comprehensive introduction lays out the main arguments of the book, which provides a state-of-the-art guide to many worlds quantum theory and its problems.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3037 KB
  • Print Length: 635 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199560560
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (24 Jun 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006UQ9770
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #433,932 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Many Virtues Interpretation 26 Aug 2010
By malreux
I cannot offer a review appropriate for those whose interests only partly intersect with the subject matter of this book because, for me, this is the most exciting book of the year! The increasingly fruitful exchange between modern analytical philosophy and physics has brought a certain precision and rigour to a field that is or ought to be entirely about explanation, elucidation, and clarification. The editors all work at the forefront of this burgeoning field.

In particular, I enjoyed the work of Simon Saunders and David Wallace. They both provide brilliant contributions to a unitary-only interpretation of quantum mechanics. Also of interest are the sharp critiques of outstanding problems in the modern 'oxonian' Everett interpretation; these aren't just the same old roundabouts regarding the status of probability but contemporary insights into the phenomena of decoherence, statistical mechanics, and Wallace's brilliant applications of decision theory. (The field has certainly been updated since pioneers such as David Deutsche were more actively involved)

For philosophers of science / metaphysicians of quantum physics, this is a seminal collection that shall immediately take on the mantle of a classic. (Let's look forward to its quantized sequel lol!) I would, however, recommend this book to physicists of a philosophical bent as well.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, if you can get hold of it! 14 July 2010
By Peter
The index is a highlight of this book. Judicious selections of keywords combined with laser-accurate page numbers synergize to take the reader where he wants to go faster than Grover himself. I hope whoever assembled it receives the fat royalty cheques and top-notch students he or she deserves.

If you liked Penetrating Wagner's "Ring" (Da Capo Paperback), you might love this book. The authors' command of foundational concepts in quantum physics is just as penetrating, and an equal pleasure to experience. Best read in the afternoon or evening, after a bracing walk on the fell.

Would I recommend this book to a friend? It depends who the friend is.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conference papers honoring 50 years of Everett's "Many Worlds" interpretaion of quantum mechanics 16 Dec 2011
By Ulfilas - Published on
50 years after the publication of Hugh Everett's 1957 Ph.D. Thesis work at Princeton under John Archibald Wheeler, the luminaries excited by his "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics held two conferences, one at Oxford University and one in Waterloo Canada, exploring this topic. Twenty papers from these two conferences, along with commentaries, were then compiled into this 618-page book. This book is divided into six parts. Part 1 consists of papers arguing in favor of the "Many Worlds" (MW) approach, while Part 2 argues against it. Part 3 is devoted to arguments favoring the MW view of probability, and Part 4 argues against that interpretation. The papers in Part 5 discuss alternatives to MW theory. Part 6 lays out the history of the MW theory, including the interaction between Everett and Wheeler.

Quite a few of the papers published in his volume are written at a level accessible to advanced undergraduates studying the physical sciences, while many are tough going even for those of us who can read and understand graduate level textbooks on quantum mechanics and quantum field theory.

The chapter that is most accessible to a general audience is Peter Byrne's "Everett and Wheeler: the Untold Story." Those who have written a Ph.D. thesis will especially enjoy this chapter, which should remind one of his/her own student days and the often vociferous arguments with one's adviser! The reader's heart in this case must certainly go out to Hugh Everett as he tries to explain his novel world view to a sometimes concerned Wheeler. Wheeler, in turn, tries to balance his desire that the views of his brilliant student find a proper audience, while at the same time not wanting to undermine the Copenhagen Interpretation of his old mentor Niels Bohr.

David Deutsch's chapter is also easy to read, though it verges on the polemic in its insistence that anything other than the MW view is utterly inconceivable. Max Tegmark pens a very digestible paper which goes into the variety of parallel universes that might be consistent with MW theory. I was also interested to discover that many of the chapters mention Bohmian mechanics as a close cousin of MW theory. Quantum Decoherence guru Wojciech Zurek addresses, among other things, one of the major points of Everett's work: that of deriving Born's rule that the probability distribution equals the magnitude of the wave function squared--and that such a conclusion can be reached without assuming the MW view.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not For Amateur Physists 10 Oct 2012
By Philip Giles - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I have a science background (biology & chemistry), this book had far too many terms that were completely beyond my limited knowledge of physics and astrophysics. I strongly recommend that this book's highly detailed and technological nature be stressed for potential buyers. No attempt was made to make the jargon intelligible to persons outside this narrow field. There was not even a glossary at the end to explain terminology.
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