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Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, and Reality Hardcover – 1 Aug 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 636 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (1 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199560560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199560561
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 4.3 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,857,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


This book provides arguably the most vivid and comprehensive treatment of both state-of-the art developments within and criticism of the Everett interpretation. (Guido Bacciagaluppi, Metascience)

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)

About the Author

Simon Saunders is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Jonathan Barrett is a Research Fellow in the Physics department at the University of Bristol Adrian Kent is a Reader in Quantum Physics at the University of Cambridge David Wallace is a lecturer in Philosophy of Physics at the University of Oxford

Inside This Book

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By malreux on 26 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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 By Peter on 14 July 2010
Format: Hardcover
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 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Conference papers honoring 50 years of Everett's "Many Worlds" interpretaion of quantum mechanics 16 Dec. 2011
By Ulfilas - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A very comprehensive and accessible overview of the fundamental questions/problems ... 18 Sept. 2014
By egeek - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very comprehensive and accessible overview of the fundamental questions/problems with the Many Worlds interpretation. Worth it for Wallace's chapter alone.
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