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The Fabric of Reality: Towards a Theory of Everything (Allen Lane Science) Hardcover – 27 Mar 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First edition (27 Mar. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713990619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713990614
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 538,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Deutsch uses concepts from evolution, epistemology, quantum mechanics and computers to challenge our accepted view of reality. His central tenets seem to me to be:

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?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has a punchy, distinctive, and controversial view of where quantum physics is taking us in the 21st century. As a general reader I found the first couple of chapters quite astounding in their re-appraisal of common or garden lab experiments I had carried out in school when I was 12. Remember sending light through gaps in a card and seeing the fringes? That took me time to assimilate and 6 months later I am still working on finishing the book! But have I enjoyed the journey, oh yes! These concepts, and other scientists differ profoundly with them, are not easy for me to grasp. But their essence is within reach of my feeble mind. It also gives me a heads up when reading about conflicting theories. Ultimately, it appears the CERN Hadron Collider will be the instrument whose experimental results will cause these conflicting theories about what we are to Br settled. Perhaps.
This is a book for those of an enquiring mind, with at least some science background from school, however distant in time, and a willingness to believe that very highly respected scientists are convinced of this stuff! On the other hand, if you enjoyed Star Trek on the telly you will manage just fine.
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