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The Fabric of Reality: Towards a Theory of Everything (Penguin Science) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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).
1. Our intuition about reality sucks e.g. you may think you're standing still but in fact you're moving with the earth.
2. Science is all about explanations and the best explanations should be adopted even if unprovable at least until a better explanation comes along. In the famous experiment where light passing through two slits behaves like waves rather than particles, Deutsch argues there are shadow photons interacting with the real ones to produce the wave effect. This is unprovable with present technology but Deutsch argues it's the only (or best) explanation.
3. From shadow photons Deutsch moves on to assert that we must "inescapably" live in a multiple universe reality and that we interact with other "us"-es in other universes. In fact Deutsch writes as if it is a fact that every possible action I could take or should have taken in the past must be or must have been acted out by some version of me in some universe. He doesn't say if I am the one acting out something someone else in another universe chose not to do.
4. There's no such thing as mathematical proof so we shouldn't trust scientists (ok, this is harsh but that's how I read it). We should trust Deutsch instead.
5. Since it's possible to even think about time travel it must be physically possible. Then follows a long indulgence on the practicalities of time travel. Here's my take: if I eat a huge huge slice of chocolate cake which I really shouldn't have eaten and then time travel to before eating the cake to stop myself eating the cake - does the cake travel in my stomach with me?Read more ›
The individual constituents of the world-view are not really new (as the book's dedication to sir Karl, Hugh Everett, Alan Turing and Richard Dawkins clearly indicates); but as a synthesis it makes some unexpected connections between them. To name one example: for a computer scientist such as myself, the statement that the Church-Turing hypothesis should be regarded as a physical fact had quite a goggle-factor!
From the beginning, with its introduction to the two-slit experiment, Deutsch firmly avoids the usual Copenhagen-inspired descriptions, instead brazenly arguing that the results can support no other interpretation than the many-worlds. The descriptions of Popper's epistemology and Dawkins' selfish-gene evolution are less revolutionary, but integrate nicely. Applying a computational perspective on physical reality (or a physical perspective on computation!) is not unique to Deutsch, but making such far-ranging connections to epistemology and evolution is, as far as I know.
To balance the critique, arguing from virtual reality seem a bit hypish (to coin a word); although one may suppose that Gedankenexperimenten should keep up with current concepts and technologies. Some of the conclusions could have benefited from more discussion and analysis (what makes parallel universes different from temporally sequential ones? what unifies them?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author is basically forcing unto the reader the many-worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics as "the only reasonable explanation a sensible person would come up... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ivan Korotkov
This book is quite special. A master piece in thinking differently, very detailed and well argued. Weather you agree with the points made or not, it is a must read.Published 12 months ago by SEIFU MEKONNEN TOLOSA
This book was written as a popular science book to be compared with, and perhaps inspired by, well known favourites such as "The Emperor's new Mind", "The Selfish... Read morePublished on 11 Aug. 2013 by Geoff Sharman
D. Deutsch, quantum computing guru and effective author, delivers an interesting work that does a very good job in delivering the basic ideas of fascinating theories in research... Read morePublished on 14 Jun. 2013 by Turi Cane
A lot of conjectures -- when not sheer, whimsical speculations -- interesting as far as quantum physics is concerned, but totally unconvincing when Deutsch touches the world of... Read morePublished on 5 Dec. 2012 by André Gargoura
Most people believe that a good philosopher is someone who agrees with them, but a good philosopher is someone who makes you think, which probably means they present a point of... Read morePublished on 20 Sept. 2012 by Paul P. Mealing
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