The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--And Its Implications
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The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--And Its Implications

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,467 ratings  ·  77 reviews
For David Deutsch, a young physicist of unusual originality, quantum theory contains our most fundamental knowledge of the physical world. Taken literally, it implies that there are many universes "parallel" to the one we see around us. This multiplicity of universes, according to Deutsch, turns out to be the key to achieving a new worldview, one which synthesizes the theo...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1997)
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Manny
Feb 18, 2014 Manny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like some science-fiction with their science
In 1619, Johannes Kepler, a theoretical astronomer who earned the greater part of his income from casting horoscopes, published the Harmonices Mundi, the "Harmony of the World". It contained a statement of the Third Law, relating the period of a planet's rotation around the sun to the radius of its orbit; this was the fruit of years of diligent work, and a first-order scientific breakthrough. The book also contained hundreds of pages of the most ridiculous pseudo-scientific nonsense, where Keple...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: four exuberant, excited stars out of five

This wonderful, materialist, rationalist counter-opinion against theism and religiosity's book review was revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

There is more than enough room in the Multiverse for reality-based understandings of the spiritual world to render gawd obsolete.
Bruce
I've been blowing through books lately, and it may be because I am at present too summer-shallow and absorbed by theater books to give works like this the necessary patience. So thank all the Neil Simon currently burning up space on my night table, and take this review for what it's worth.

I went into this on the strength of recommendations that had me expecting something like Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible, but found instead a ponderous mess that left me in full-bore skim mode after onl...more
axe
This is a weird book to review. There were pages where I was vociferously arguing with a (imaginary) Mr Deutsch, and pages where I was nodding along like in a class room. So a good book in all, perhaps even a great one.

Deutsch is at his best when explaining Quantum Theory, and surprisingly good when talking Epistemology. In the former he has some of the clearest expositions I have ever seen, and some very appealing explanations for old chestnuts. In the latter, although he does some convolution...more
Carlos Scheidegger
Thought-provoking, but confusing at parts, and over-reaches a bit. The arguments about the importance of explanations are very good, but his attempt to tie together "the four strands" (epistemology, evolution, quantum theory and computation) falls fairly short.

- Computational complexity issues were simply brushed aside during his arguments about virtual reality - that is a real shame, since efficient simulability could be said to be *the* central issue of computational complexity, and clearly ha...more
DJ
Mar 21, 2009 DJ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in physics, epistemology, and/or computation
Shelves: popular-physics
This is David Deutsch's plea to the scientific world to tear down the separation between theory and their own worldviews and truly own the picture of reality that modern physics has painted for us. He begs that we take our theories seriously as fundamental paradigms and not set them aside as interesting little quirks of Nature. In particular, he makes a solid case for embracing the "many-worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics (given my greenness on this subject, I'm reserving judgment until...more
Richard
Ambitious even by the standards of BIG picture pop sci (Hawking, Greene), Deutsch's "four strands" view of reality encompasses everything from how evolution might affect the universe as a whole to time travel, the very nature of a "theory," and quantum computing's effects on us. And you have to love a book that begins by describing an experiment that uses a flashlight and three pieces of cardboard to demonstrate that there must be far, far more universes than there are atoms in this one.

Lots (a...more
Phil Scovis
Most popular books on Quantum Mechanics suffer from an apparent need to overawe the reader with the weirdness of it all, stressing the old saw that if you think you understood it then you didn't. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Q-word has become associated with whatever woo-woo philosophy anyone cares to attach to it.

I can only think of two books on the subject that treat the reader with the respect due someone who can understand the basic concepts even if the mathematical details...more
Vheissu
I must reluctantly conclude that this book simply is not worth the time and effort to read it.

I picked it up because of the high regard that Charles Yu afforded it in his wonderful novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. I highly recommend Yu instead of Deutsch.

I admit up front to being a "positivist" in the Karl Popper sense, but not to the "straw man positivist" of whom Prof. Deutsch is clearly peeved. I'm sorry that mainstream theoretical physicists have not embraced his "e...more
Don Rea
If you're truly interested in understanding the state of the art in imagining the nature of how things really are, there's hardly a better place to start than this book. Deutsch, whose credentials are impeccable even though his thinking is a little outside the mainstream, decides to see what is implied if we take the current best-of-breed theories seriously and toss away our blinkering discomforts. As it turns out, given that assumption, things are both not quite and exactly as they seem - in fa...more
Ed van der Winden
This is a very exciting and important book. Not yet another "science-for-the-layman", but a much more ambitious book. David Deutsch combines four strands (as he calls them), quantum physics (the many-worlds explanation of Everett), epistimology (primarily Popper), evolution (Darwin/Dawkins) and a theory of computation (Turing's strong principle) into one interconnecting world view that comes close to a theory of everything ( by which he means something other than you probably suspect). Very clea...more
Dennis
This is one of the most challenging, mind-opening, and best books about physics and the nature of reality that I have ever read. Thanks to my bro Pat for recommending.
Eugene


Когда я был маленьким, я не хотел быть ковбоем или космонавтом. Из "приключенческих" профессий мне больше нравилась археология или геология, но больше всего мне хотелось стать ученым. Но без специализации, а вот просто Ученым - который занимается всем подряд, именно тем, что ему интересно в данный момент. Я вырос, мечта слегка увяла, особенно после того, как узнал, кого называют современными учеными и что есть современная наука. Но где-то там, глубоко внутри, детская мечта немного жива. И она пр...more
David Miller
The Fabric of Reality is not a simple book, but it has a simple thesis: the curious implications scientific theories actually reflect the nature of the real world. Out of four main "strands" (biological evolution, universal Turing machines, Popperian epistemology, and the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics), David Deutsch asserts that we have the basis for a theory of pretty much everything. Each of these theories complements the others in ways that are not immediately obvious, and...more
Francis Kayiwa
All good books test the imagination. When you open them you must imagine for yourself before Peter Jackson's trilogy walking through Middle earth. You cannot in reality go to Middle-earth (well technically go to New Zealand now), but in another sense you can.

This book is different. It requires you to examine everything about the very world you inhabit. Early in the book David Deutsch describes the interference pattern from a single photon passing through a single slit and infers from this experi...more
Saran Neti
David Deutsch is one of the most interesting contemporary physicists. He is bold in his claims, independent in thought and voices strong opinions against what he perceives to be false beliefs. One idea he advocates is that our universe is part of a multiverse and at the Quantum level, these universes interact with each other. Although not his own idea, it lead him to invent Quantum Computing and state many features about the universality of it. Recent advances in Quantum Computing theory, includ...more
Cloudbuster
David Deutsch è un fisico teorico che non si richiude nel suo cantuccio ma ha l'ardire di spingere il proprio sguardo all'intero universo andando alla ricerca di teorie che possano contribuire a capire la trama della realtà. In questo libro Deutsch espone la propria visione della trama della realtà che si basa su quattro teorie fondamentali: la fisica quantistica, l'epistemologia evolutiva di Popper, la teoria della computazione di Turing, la teoria dell'evoluzione nella visione rivista di Richa...more
Rajith
In this book the physicist David Deutsch advances
a theory that aims at unifying theory of evolution,
theory of computation, theory of knowledge (epistemology),
and theory of matter (quantum theory).

two dominant positions in philosophy of science:
instrumentalism (that scientific theories do not explain reality,
they are simply instruments for making predictions,
and, as long as two theories both make valid predictions,
neither can be considered better than the other,
a theory simply predicts t...more
Jim
Einstein spent the last years of his life trying to create a "Theory of Everything," but died without accomplishing it. For the last 80 years, hundreds of philosophers and scientists have dedicated their careers to the same search.

David Deutch takes the novel approach in this book that we've already got a Theory of Everything, and goes on to present familiar material, but ties it all together in novel ways.

For example, scientists have been using the accurate results of Quantum Theory, but ignori...more
Andrew
A lot of interesting stuff. The combination of quantum physics, epistemiology, genetic evolution, and computer theory take on new power when interpreted in the framework of multi-worlds.

Within the framework of the multiverse, a lot of topics make much more sense. Time travel? Travel into the past includes travel into a different time slice into a different universe. Interpretation of specific DNA segments? A specific DNA segment is highly adapted to its ecological niche if it is nearly identical...more
Eliot Parulidae
Less than the sum of its parts. Deutsch's argument against solipsism, his proposal that multiverse theory could solve the famous paradoxes of time travel, his observations about possible vs. impossible virtual reality environments, and his thoughts on how quantum mechanics allows for free will but spacetime physics does not are all thought-provoking, and they would work well as standalone essays or prompts for science fiction writers. However, the author has a very cavalier attitude about what i...more
Jennifer
This book is everything it claims to be.

It's not just a unified Theory of Everything we know and are. It's also the best-written, most convincing and clear explanations I've ever read of quantum physics, theory of knowledge, computation theory, and evolution.

There's a useful summary at the end of each chapter of the argument so far, and a glossary of the term used - which have already been explained in context. As you go through the book, the author explains how the four main strands mentioned a...more
Victor Davis
I never get tired of physics books. But David Deutsch is more of a philosopher than a physicist. He presents a radical new worldview based on the principle of parallel universes. It's compelling and creative, but much too big a pill to swallow. History may very well prove the man right. Meantime, i need to invest more reading in Dawkins and Turing.
Nick
An interesting and provocative book which makes a number of bold claims about the nature of reality and how we should understand it. I'm a dilettante, at best, when it comes to scientific stuff, so I found it hard to think of objections to some of his more bonkers-sounding claims (he endorses Tipler's Omega Point theory - that just prior to the end of the universe, a computer will exist with the power to raise the dead and simulate any physically-possible environment). I strongly disagreed with...more
Mike Spinak
Absolutely brilliant book.

Right from the start, when Deutsch starts talking about depth and breadth of knowledge, you know this is going to be a great book full or great ideas. The discussion in the beginning about slit experiments and photons, and what the implications mean, and why the Everett interpretation is more logically consistent than the alternatives, would alone make the book worthwhile, and that's just the beginning. When he gets into epistemology and starts with the thought experime...more
Frank
Vor Seite 15 hat DD schon die Logical Positivists entthront. Ein vielversprechender Anfang..

..Beschreibt eine Alternativerklärung der Quantenmechanik so weit entfernt von den wissenschaftlichen Werten: Ästhetik und Ökonomie, daß man David Deutsch (und zwar, alle von ihm!) in eine Irrenanstalt hätte einweisen müssen. Keine Überraschung, daß viele ihn ignorieren wollen. Jedoch eins bleibt: wir warten vergeblich auf eine bessere Erlärung jetzt schon seit fast hundert Jahren. Man müßte sich deshalb...more
Dipanshu Agrawal
This book will test the limits your imaginations. Overtly complex at times, with explanations sprawling pages after pages, it does instill a sense of wonder in oneself. The Ideas presented are fairly complex, and might be too abstract for readers not used to such material. But if you can manage it, it is definitely a book you dont want to miss. It makes me ask questions about our world that I would not have even understood without reading this book, let alone answer them.

The book has that wonde...more
Jeff
Oct 07, 2011 Jeff marked it as to-read-academic  ·  review of another edition
After reading ten reviews of this book, I've decide not to endeavor to read it. Far and away the most in depth review comes from David Falk. He clearly explains what's lacking in terms of how it's written, and he also displays, more than any other evaluator, a background knowledge of the book's content and points out that it neither persuades him or the authors' colleagues. Most of the reviews rating 4 stars or higher for this book seem to be from people who's imaginations were captured by Deuts...more
Stuart
I've been reading books on the search for a Theory of Everything. They can be lumped into the following categories:

1) TOE's that seek to unify the 4 physical forces but don't want to venture into philosophy.

2) TOE's that try to unify physics with other theories such as information theory, evolution, etc. but still stay within the realm of scientific speculation.

3) TOE's that go beyond that into the New-Agey.

This book falls squarely into category #2. He ties together quantum mechanics, computing...more
Lukas Szrot
Wow... Incredible. The most inspired and significant work I have read all year. It really spoke to me, intellectually and intuitively. I of course feel the need to read more Popper and Kuhn (I am studying Sociology of Scientific Knowledge after all) and more Dawkins on evolutionary biology. Four threads of knowledge: the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory, evolution, computer science, and epistemology for Deutsch make up a Theory of Everything. Of course that doesn't mean we know every...more
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Simplest, data-based TOE... 1 5 Nov 01, 2011 07:50AM  
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David Deutsch, FRS is a British physicist at the University of Oxford. He is a non-stipendiary Visiting Professor in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics at the Centre for Quantum Computation (CQC) in the Clarendon Laboratory of the University of Oxford. He pioneered the field of quantum computation by being the first person to formulate a description for a quantum Turing machine, as well as...more
More about David Deutsch...
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World The Equalizer Quest for the Quantum Computer Die Physik Der Welterkenntnis: Auf Dem Weg Zum Universellen Verstehen Minds, Machines and Multiverse: The Quest for the Quantum Computer

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“The whole [scientific] process resembles biological evolution. A problem is like an ecological niche, and a theory is like a gene or a species which is being tested for viability in that niche.” 5 likes
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