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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  3,570 ratings  ·  120 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
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published September 26th 1996)
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Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Manuel Antão
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1988
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Nietzsche’s Metaphor: "The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications" by David Deutsch

(Original Review, 1988-05-30)

Perhaps it is worthwhile clearing up a few fundamentals here. Specifically, the concept of something complicated being created as opposed to evolved. Of course, consciousness has evolved and is a characteristic of the complex arrangement of entities whose properties are understood by physic
Richard Derus
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science
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
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Phil Scovis
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Carlos Scheidegger
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Adrian S
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The level of semantic complexity is not uniform throughout the 14 chapters of the book, and neither is the balance between the proficiency in Quantum Physics and Computation Theory that is expected of the reader in order to internalize the contents.

Having read the book as a Computer Scientist with knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, my understanding of Deutsch's work is that it is aimed at communicating a multiverse worldview (where "worldview" is understood here as a sema
Oct 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cosmology
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
Apr 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Andrei Khrapavitski
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Last year when I compiled my all-time favorite reading list, I included David Deutsch’s The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World. This is a really transformative text I wish more people would find time to read. Deutsch, best known for pioneering the field of quantum computation, is one of those scientists who go beyond the constraints of their own field and search for overarching explanations of foundational questions. For instance, Stephen Hawking was famously looking fo ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Four Strands of Reality:
While complexity of knowledge grows, so does the depth of our knowledge. These four fundamental strands of reality are increasingly intertwined:
1. quantum physics (Everette)
2. epistemology (Popper)
3. universal computation (Turing)
4. evolutionary life (Darwin-Dawkins)
These explanations, whole each seems narrowly focused at first, when taken together are the most straight forward unified explanation of our reality that we have at this point. While each still has holes in th
Erdem Yılmaz
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Kuşkusuz iyi bir fikirle ortaya çıkan fakat modern bilim felsefesi kavramlarını tali yollarda bırakarak zeminini kurguya evirmiş bir eser olarak görüyorum. Bilimsel/felsefi bir ambalajla sunulduğu ve asıl vaadi kurgusal olmadığından bu eleştiriyi ortaya atarken de cesur davranabileceğimi düşünüyorum. Haklı olmama hakkımın da olduğunu düşünüyorum ve bunda haklıyım.

Eser merkezinde paralel evren metaforuyla eş heyecan yaratacak solipsizm kavrayışı üzerinden bir anlatım oluşturması sıklıkla “ne diyo
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I do not think much of this book. I did not understand much of it, the author was at times repetitive, at times used many words to say little but claimed the thought was profound, and was arrogant and derisive towards conflicting opinions. The ideas that might have been interesting were not satisfactorily explained.
Don Rea
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Cem Uzunoglu
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A fresh look at the problems posed by the hard to understand Copenhagen interpretation. David Deutsch answers many interesting questions, like "where does the computing power of a quantum computer come from?" and explains how the many worlds interpretation clears paradoxes like the observer problem.

Overall a very nice reading.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-that-i-own
Ambitious, thought-provoking and extremely patient and non-presumtuous in explaining fundamental scientific concepts. This is definitely one of those books that keep my longtime affair with science burning.
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Оказывается существует бесконечно много вселенных. По английски одна вселенная называется universe. А все вселенные вместе называются multiverse. Вы можете спросить, а почему мы тогда не ощущаем этого расщепления себя на множество параллельных вселенных?! Ну то, что Земля вращается вы тоже не ощущаете, однако это так.

Наша Вселенная - это такой монолит из всевозможных комбинаций. Времени не существует. Есть только снимки состояний мира. А законы физики являются клеем склеивающим эти снимки. Врем
Abner Rosenweig
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I finish every book I start. How deeply I read depends on how much I get from the material at hand. I skimmed most of TFOR. It is often poorly written and at times poorly argued. It doesn't deliver on its premise. While it offers an interesting perspective, on the whole it's a frustrating read.

Toward the beginning of the book, Deutsch makes the outlandish claim that it's possible to understand the fabric of reality itself. Immediately I was skeptical, and later on he contradicts himself by ackno
J.K. George
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-books
This is a book club selection for my men's BC. Our meeting is this coming Wednesday night, and I would not be surprised if we expel the fellow who selected this one. As I'm OCD in terms of trying to read all our selections, I made it all the way through, even though there was one paragraph I read six or seven times before I got any semblance of a bit of understanding what David Deutsch meant. I tried hard to grasp the overall meaning, and there were a few places where I made some progress, but o ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book because I studied the author's proposed quantum algorithm in my fundamental of quantum information graduate class.

The author clearly explained several topics that interest me, and should also interest anyone who have a background (or curiosity) in computer science/mathematics/physics. He explained clearly what Cantor's diagonal argument is, and how it is used by Turing and Godel in constructing their theory. He also extends Turing computational theory by treating computation as
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Deutsch could easily have written a great and thought-provoking book about how quantum mechanics demonstrates the existence of parallel universes, and what that implies. Instead he walks into the same trap so many physicists before him bumbled into: a conviction that as a physicist he is so much smarter than all those other scientists and thinkers out there. Historians, philosophers, chemists, computer scientists, they should all just bow down to the mighty physicist in awe.

His early chap
Dan Wigglesworth
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a convincing argument in favour of embracing the multiverse interpretation of quantum mechanics; even if it's wrong. As Deutsch might put it: We must embrace an explanation such as this if only to disprove it. As he argues, there is currently no explanation behind quantum mechanics. I believe he characterizes the general view of QM as "Instrumentalism" which, he argues, is no explanation at all. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is his views on Instrumentalism versus empiri ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
I enjoyed flipping through the end notes of each chapter, where a summary and key terms were provided. The chapters themselves were quite dense, so if the summary intrigued me, I took the time to actually read through the contents. Overall this was a very theoretical book with examples taken from current technology that were generally relevant, though the arguments themselves could at times be fairly bizarre. Definitely not an easy read like some other popular science books for the general publi ...more
Nick Woodall
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked reading this book because it challenged me, but I don't believe, nor do I agree, with everything in it. He's an evolutionist; I'm not. He believes in time-travel (yes, he is a brilliant scientist); I don't. I believe in the scientific methodology of experimentation; He doesn't. There is a lot to learn from this book. Most of it was over my head, but I persevered in reading it to challenge myself and to learn as much as I could from it.
Ryan Vaughn
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking

I hadn't realized the contention between different interpretations of quantum interference until reading this, but after doing so, I, a longtime Hawking fan, have trouble believing the Copenhagen interpretation and find the multiverse interpretation much more logical.

This may also be the nerdiest review I've yet written. Hooray!
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book - I'll never see the world quite the same again.
It becomes apparent as you read this book that so much of reality is not intuitive. So much of science now sounds like science fiction but is supported often by experimental evidence and mathematics - but as Deutsch notes - even mathematic proofs are not conclusive.
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Simplest, data-based TOE... 1 8 Nov 01, 2011 07:50AM  
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  • The Origin Of The Universe
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  • The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins
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  • Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law
  • Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
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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
“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.” 14 likes
“We do not experience time flowing, or passing. What we experience are differences between our present perceptions and our present memories of past perceptions. We interpret those differences, correctly, as evidence that the universe changes with time. We also interpret them, incorrectly, as evidence that our consciousness, or the present, or something, moves through time.” 6 likes
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