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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Quantum Reality by Nick Herbert. Quantum Reality by Nick Herbert. This clearly explained layman's introduction to quantum physics is an accessible excursion into metaphysics and the meaning of reality.
Herbert exposes the quantum world and the scientific and philosophical controversy about its interpretation. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published February 20th by Anchor Books first published June 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Quantum Reality , please sign up. Lists with This Book.
Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Quantum Reality. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. De Broglie-Bohm Interpretation vs. If Einstein is right, gravity waves from all parts of the sky pass through the Earth every day.
A gravity wave sli If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. A gravity wave slightly warps every object in its path, squeezing it in one direction and stretching it in the orthogonal direction. Because of the ubiquity of gravity waves, every object we see is continually pulsing to the gravitational rhythm of distant stars. For instance we now know for certain that no local model can explain quantum facts.
In a local reality, influences cannot travel faster than light. In this model an invisible field informs the electron of environmental changes with a superluminal response time. View all 4 comments.
Jan 28, Szplug rated it liked it. Ride the particulate waveform, sweet universe of mine. How our human consciousnesses perceive reality at the subphenomenal level makes for a truly extraordinary conundrum, and Herbert is an appreciably lucid and patient explicator of this primordial soup of uncertainty brought to our awarenesses through the mathematics, theorizing, and testing of many of the most brilliant physicists of the past century and a half.
Even more so than other elucidators like the late Heinz Pagels , John Gribbin , and Ride the particulate waveform, sweet universe of mine. Even more so than other elucidators like the late Heinz Pagels , John Gribbin , and Brian Greene , Herbert comes the closest to allowing a layperson to wrap their heads around how it is, exactly, that Quantum Mechanics has driven these same scientific lawgivers and architects to the point of breakdown with its paradoxical formations and uncanny peculiarities, seemingly irreconcilable to the logical parameters that we have come to both assume and require through our own existence embedded within the natural world.
What's more, he eschews the lame pop-culture analogies that so often lead one to grit one's teeth or cauliflower-cook from one's ears with two of those aforementioned peers.
Above all, Herbert constructs his work to stress, and subsequently elaborate upon, the central point that elementary particles—for which he interchangeably uses his self-coined terms Quons and Quantumstuff —whether constituting energy or matter, display particle behavior when being measured, and a wave formation when not; with the latter, of necessity, requiring that whenever one dynamic aspect of a quons ' particle form is being determined, its conjugate aspect will prove impossible to pin down with a similar accuracy due to a continually elevating uncertainty attending to that specific quality; and that, when said quon is not under some manner of measurement, it exists as a wavelike element of fluxing probabilities that, paradoxically, concurrently displays all the possible attributes possible for any particular aspect that a physicist could undertake to quantify—regardless of time, space, or momentum.
Indeed, as Herbert explains in a particularly startling example, the act of observation can apparently influence even the stellar pathway of photons emitted from a quasar several billion years ago—a stretching of the subphenomenal proxy-wave probability across an incomprehensible immensity of light-years.
At such a moment—the absurdity of the contention notwithstanding—it certainly does seem that the very act of our being a conscious observer undertakes to determine, in a particular moment, the constituted reality of that very element of the universe; that said light beam's existence comprised a murky, ghostly ephemerality of possible states until our measuring gaze forced upon it the necessity of making a determination, of collapsing the wave function to the degree that it particulated in space-time with the very attributes we discover when we brought it to bear in such an enigmatic fashion.
In order to set the stage properly, the author spends a great deal of time in carefully elaborating upon the composition and behavior of waves—whether sine , impulse , spherical —their periodicity and phase, their frequency and amplitude, at how the latter affects their inherent energy at the material real level or probability at the quantum configuration level.
There is also the mysterious property of Phase Entanglement , in which, when any two quons engage and disengage with each other, their amplitudes separate but their phases remain entangled ; this mixed phase attribution resonates with each quon from that point forward—a property that might perhaps point, through such as Bell's Theorem , towards a superluminal information exchange between these particles, though they be separated by hundreds of light years.
The fact that the conjugate waves can never be realized at a level with their antithesis demonstrates the reality that the precise measurement of two such opposing quantum-level aspects—as, for instance, position and momentum —cannot be determined in coevality.
Thus, subphenomenal uncertainty is proven mathematically, and the paradox and puzzle of such a bedrock to nature given a rigor that scientists have so far found impossible to escape from or reconcile with, absent the bizarre scenarios they have concocted to explain the unexplainable.
For this is the crux of the matter from the authorial perspective—to allow the reader to get a handle upon how, exactly, the physicists themselves have come to order this molecular level of elementary reality, one which deals in measurements so unfathomably small as to defy any manner of mental purchase.
Since the phenomenal level can be well-understood with classical methodologies and terminologies, physicists would prefer to extend such to the quantumstuff underlying it; since, apart from the actual measurements, this has proven exceedingly problematic, there have developed eight primary schools of thought about Quantum Reality and how to address its wispily heavy presence as the shimmery white elephant in the room.
This determined value had no existence, or meaning, until a measurement created a tangible value out of a sea of possibilities. Whether atoms really exist, pondering the structure of the quantum world—such is but idle speculation, irrelevant to the quantifications imparted by observational imposition. Quantum Reality 3 : The Whole Worlds theory, which maintains that there is no dissociative distinction between the phenomenal and subphenomenal worlds, as the quantum attributes are not localized with the quon but are rather an inherent part of the experimental arrangement.
The phase entanglement mentioned above is a primary component of this theory, in which it is plausible that the majority of quons carry wave phase remembrances of their past collisions in the dawning days of the universe. Quantum Reality 4 : This is the infamous Many-Worlds theory, primarily developed by Everett under the auspices of Wheeler. This beauty avoids many of the paradoxes and pratfalls associated with the particulate uncertainties and wave functions with a whopper all of its own: whenever a measurement forces a value to be assigned to any dynamic value of a quon , every possible option is realized, a free-for-all made possible by the assignation of a brand new parallel universe arising out of each and every quantum value implementation.
Our human minds, delimited to sensory perceptions in our own space-time, cannot perceive this exponential proliferation of fully-formed universes, blossoming under the imposition of every available attribute value allowable to each and every particle; but there they are, expanding rapid-fire like the zits on a soda-chugging teenager under the cascading avalanche of observations that are brought to bear.
Quantum Reality 5 : An intriguing offering that places itself about halfway between s 3 and 6, but states that we need an entirely new branch of logic, superimposed upon a Boolean framework, that will allow us to grasp and bring within the limits of our human understanding the actual nature of the alien quantum world. Using as an example the peculiar quantum properties of photon polarization, Herbert delineates a mathematical logic that endeavors to penetrate the walled mysteries that have so far repulsed us, weaving lattices of quantum logic that will allow us partial egress after clambering these probability-permeated barriers.
Quantum Reality 6 : The favored purview of so-called realist physicists like Einstein and the Copenhagen apostate Bohm. This position, called Neorealism , attempts to salvage as much of the classical stability as is possible for the quantum realm. Diametrically opposed to the Copenhagen majority, the fatal flaw in the Neorealist position is the juggling they have to perform to account for the almost perfect accuracy of Quantum Mechanics, including the necessity for waves and particles to communicate with each other at superluminal speeds—a thing utterly forbidden by the Special Relativity of this very school's chief proponent.
Quantum Reality 7 : Developed initially by the rigorous mathematical mind of John von Neumann, this is the school of the Conscious Observer , a sort of idealist kin for the scientific field.
Von Neumann, and his ilk, deem that the only reality is quantumstuff , of which everything in the universe is composed. It is the act of measurement that is the deciding factor in the wave function collapse that causes the Quantum Jump , the imposition of a single reality from the sea of waveform possibilities—but the powerful math of von Neumann showed that this measurement could be initiated anywhere in the von Neumann chain that bound the stages of the event.
Taking note that the only unique variable in this chain was human consciousness, von Neumann thus determined that existent reality is created by the conscious mind. There is an actual reality , but it can only be in conjunction with a consciousness that can force a fact from probability through the act of observation.
Quantum Reality 8 : Finally, Herbert offers up the theory established primarily by the great Heisenberg, whose self-named Uncertainty Principle is one of the foundational theorems of Quantum Mechanics. Heisenberg proffers a duality-riven single world, composed of the potentiality implicit within the quantumstuff waveforms, and the actuality present after the wave function has collapsed in order to accommodate a measurement. In other words, when nobody is looking, the universe is a soup of probability—only to convert to an existing, quantified reality when focus is brought to bear upon what had priorly been a mere bundle of promise.
Theoretically capable of extending itself all the way backwards to the initializing Big Look from the singularly Big Guy , Heisenberg's QR is one where there is an omnipresent sense of something lurking just out of vision at the corner of one's eye. The final section of this excellent book is the prep-work and subsequent walk-through by Herbert in order to impart upon the reader all of the implicit potentialities held within one Bell's Theorem , a probing of the famous EPR paradox crafted by Einstein and Co.
By means of a construct that measures the polarization of twinned-photons by splitting them at varying angles with a rotated crystal and projecting these binary polarizations onto a phosphor screen, a somewhat obscure Northern Irish physicist named John Bell made the stunning determination that reality is non-local.
In other words, though our phenomenal world operates at the local level—diminishing with distance, shielded, coterminous, subluminal— reality , the quantum bedrock, is non-local: undiminished with distance, unshielded, incongruent, superluminal. What's more, Bell's Theorem has subsequently been proven mathematically, meaning its truth no longer relies on the viability of Quantum Theory: it is a reality of it own.
Herbert uses this perturbing discovery to realign the eight schools of Quantum Reality and work out how it impacts them all, especially in its potential links to that weirdest of quantum bunnies, Phase Entanglement. Three stars only because Herbert, while proving himself a highly competent guide, writes with a workmanlike prose, and can occasionally get a bit bogged down, ironically most often by trying to make complicated mathematics explicable to the general reader. Tantalizing with its glimpses of the potential for faster-than-light communication and movement, whilst simultaneously dampening with its allusions to the all-too-likelihood that such communications would be at a level comprehensible only to nature itself, and, alas, not to the human consciousness that, as this book shows over and again, despite being profoundly confounded by the subatomic world it has uncovered, refuses to leave it be without having done everything possible to make some manner of sense of it all.
View all 9 comments. Jun 01, Scott rated it really liked it. Dec 15, Anima marked it as on-hold. If we take these claims at face value, the stories physicists tell resemble the tales of mystics and madmen. Physicists are quick to reject such unsavory associations and insist that they speak sober fact. We do not make these claims out of ignorance, they say, like ancient mapmakers filling in terra incognitas with plausible geography.
Not ignorance, but the emergence of unexpected knowledge forces on us all new visions of the way things really are.
The new physics vision is still clouded, as evidenced by the multiplicity of its claims, but whatever the outcome it is sure to be far from ordinary. Later we will look at each of these realities in more detail and see how different physicists use the same data to justify so many different pictures of the world. Bohr does not deny the evidence of his senses. The world we see around us is real enough, he affirms, but it floats on a world that is not as real. Everyday phenomena are themselves built not out of phenomena but out of an utterly different kind of being.
Jul 15, P. Mazumdar rated it it was amazing.
Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, An Excursion into Metaphysics...and the Meaning of Reality
Quantum Reality is a popular science book by physicist Nick Herbert , a member the Fundamental Fysiks Group which was formed to explore the philosophical implications of quantum theory. Herbert discusses the most common interpretations of quantum mechanics and their consequences in turn, highlighting the conceptual advantages and drawbacks of each. In introducing quantum objects which he dubs "quons" , Herbert describes how quantum properties inhere in a wave function , which serves as a proxy for the measurement of these properties. He likens the quantum measurement process to mathematically treating the wave function as a summation of waveforms of a particular family, with various families corresponding to particular properties. The bandwidth of the spectrum of these waveforms represents the uncertainty in the quantum measurement.
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