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The Fabric of Reality: Towards a Theory of Everything Paperback – 26 Mar 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140146903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140146905
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

DAVID DEUTSCH's research in quantum physics has been influential and highly acclaimed. He is a member of the Quantum Computation and Cryptography Research Group at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University, and now lives and works in Oxford.

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I remember being told, when I was a small child, that in ancient times it was still possible for a very learned person to know everything that was known. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Riordan on 30 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read innumerable books and science magazine articles on quantum theory, relativity, astrophysics, astrononmy, string theory, etc, as well as a great deal of more generally related science.
I am not a trained scientist, simple a well informed non-specialist with an interest in these areas, and I would have to say that this is the best written book of its type I have come across. It deals with extremely deep concepts across an enormous range of different but related areas of study, and I found myself at times almost shocked at the superb skill with which the author is able to deliver new concepts and arguments so cleanly and simply. The chapter that deals with quantum theory and the many-worlds hypothesis alone stands out as a masterpiece of elegance and simplicity when compared with many other works that attempt to deal with this issue.
Rather than delighting and wallowing in the apparent paradoxes that quantum theory implies for the macroscopic world (as so many authors do), Deutsch simply points out that irrespective of our inability to understand and resolve those paradoxes, the conclusions at least are clear and unarguable, and this is where he starts the real work of philosophical integration that is the books theme.
The rate at which new ideas in this book are delivered can leave one stunned at times, and I must recommend this book without any hesitation at all.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G. Imroth on 9 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
As a small child, David Deutsch wanted to learn everything. This does not mean that he wanted to know everything but that he wanted to understand everything that could be understood. To this end, Deutsch recognises four strands to a deep understanding of the fabric of reality: quantum physics, epistemology, computation and genetical evolution.

The particular theories Deutsch proposes in these subjects are: the parallel universes or many worlds interpretation; Karl Popper's hypothetico-deductive model; Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, specifically in the gene-centric interpretation given it by Richard Dawkins (the selfish gene school); and, in regard to computation, the Church-Turing conjecture of universal computation, universal virtual reality based on universal computation, Deutsch's own theory of quantum computation and artificial intelligence.

A wilder application of computation to physical reality is Frank Tippler's theory of the omega point, a state reached in the last moments of the collapsing universe, where the minds of all previous people can be resurrected.

The Fabric of Reality is altogether an excellent book, marred only by David Deutsch's insistence that anyone who doubts the many worlds interpretation does not understand quantum theory properly (and his strong hint that we are retarded by lack of imagination or honesty).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DP on 15 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one of the few books that I have ever read that has fundamentally changed the way I think. For that it deserves 5 stars. I bought it thinking that it was a pop-science book, but came away thinking of it more as a philosophical essay. I guess this is why that unlike other pop-science books this old it doesn't seem at all dated.

At the risk of massively over-simplifying his thesis, Deutsch sees a theory of everything not as a unified theory of physics but as a set of related theories that explain the nature of reality. Yes it can be slow at times, but this is the author being meticulous in the construction of his arguments.

There are some irritations. Chapter 7 was particularly self-indulgent. He had aleady made his point that the view that Popper's point about the invalidity of inductive justification is not a problem for the foundations of science(apparently a common view amongst philosophers) well in earlier chapters. A cringe-worthy conversation between the author and an idiotic "crypto-inductivist" could have been cut and nothing would have been lost. Although the argument in the final chapter about the Omega point is much better than other disucssions on the same subject (e.g.The Never-ending Days of Being Dead), the concept is so speculative I think it detracts from the rigour of the rest of the book.

Despite these problems, I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in metaphysics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Dec 1997
Format: Hardcover
The best word to describe The Fabric of Reality is exciting; it fires up the mind. This book brings together four seemingly disparate theories; quantum physics, evolution, computation, and epistemology and shows how they are not disparate at all, but each relates and answers questions about the others, and together form a united structure. The book is both comprehensive and comprehensible. The form and structure of the book, with a glossary, chapter summary, and bridge to the next chapter, as well as Deutsch's skill at writing, ease the absorbtion of complex ideas. Anyone with a questing mind will find themselves entranced by ideas contained within this book. Read _The Fabric of Reality_ and grow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Dec 1998
Format: Hardcover
I am just a layman. Bachelors degrees in mathematics, philosophy and computer science. But I try to keep up on the latest knowledge and thinking concerning our understanding of physics and the universe. This book met that goal of introducing the latest concepts to me, providing rather detailed and sometimes lengthy proofs. I got bogged down a bit in the chapter of Virtual Reality which was essentially setting the foundation for future chapters. Otherwise, the rest of the reading went quickly and nicely. Well worth your time.
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