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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,085 ratings  ·  160 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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Vladimir Kindle. There is a lot highlighting that you should want to do for future reference, both in this one and in the Beginning of Infinity. Inexplicably d…moreKindle. There is a lot highlighting that you should want to do for future reference, both in this one and in the Beginning of Infinity. Inexplicably deep books.(less)

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Manny
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
...more
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.
...more
Bruce
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
...more
axe
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
...more
Mehrsa
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The beginning of this book was really fascinating and got me thinking, but then the last half was really hard to get through because he got bogged down in super scientific details that I just didn't care about. I think the book is probably outdated at this point too because though we aren't closer to a "theory of everything," we have pushed forward on a lot of the theories he discusses in this book.
DJ
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
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I would suggest that my other self, Gary Beauregard Bottomley, in a parallel universe should not waste his time reading this book. It is deceptively misleading. Explanation is not the foundation for reality as the author tries to show. Explanation does not make the transcendental deduction real.

Samuel Johnson does not refute the Reverend Berkeley by kicking a rock even if the rock kicks back. Hume’s experiences are not a sufficient foundation in themselves. Kant wisely realizes that both (Berke
...more
Gendou
Nov 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
The nicest thing I can say about this book is that Deutsch offers his own "novel" opinions philosophy of science. Unfortunately he's reached those opinions by collecting logical fallacies like a hoarder collects old newspapers. He's basically a crank, having worked largely in isolation for decades, who thinks he's got a grand new theory that's underappreciated by academics.

Straw Man
His favorite logical fallacy to employ is the Straw Man. He has Plato's Dialogues style arguments with a fictional
...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
...more
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
...more
Jason Pettus
DID NOT FINISH. I picked this up because Neal Stephenson mentioned in a recent interview that it was the main nonfiction book to inform the details of his newest novel, the virtual-reality morality thriller Fall: Or, Dodge in Hell, and I thought it might be interesting thing to make my way through while waiting for my chance to secure a copy of Stephenson's book. And it's interesting no doubt, an attempt by this admired theoretical physicist to explain to a non-science crowd how it is that we us ...more
Murilo Queiroz
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing, life-changing book! I could recommend it by its very convincing defense of the Everett's Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics alone, or Karl Popper's Epistemology, but it's the synthesis of the four strands mentioned in the book (the other two are Darwin-Dawkins Evolution and Turing's Universal Computation) that makes this a must-read work about Philosophy of Science.

A curious anecdote: during a very interesting discussion about the books I read in 2019, in the BBQ a
...more
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
...more
Vheissu
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
...more
Richard
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
...more
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
Parker
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
...more
Cloé St-Cyr
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most difficult and complex read of the past years yet most mind blowing, positively challenging and interesting book in a long while. This book was at the origin of many mental epiphanies but most importantly helped me if the lifelong task of mapping out my own ignorance about the origin of our knowledge and the theories that help us get closer to forms of reality.
Tomfoolery72
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit. 🤯 Mind is fucking blown. 🤯 World view is completely changed. 🤯 I’m gonna go read a couple of novels to clear my head, and then I’m gonna read this again.
Tim
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
Dennis Littrell
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
It's scary, what I am reading these days

The initial chapter of this imaginative book was startling in its direct and persuasive impact, but the later chapters faltered. Deutsch buys the "many worlds" theory of quantum mechanics big time, and I love that interpretation; however I don't care for the way he insists that the existence of parallel universes is an established fact. He is original to say the least and definitely worth reading, although some of the chapters are a little beyond my reach
...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.
Scarlet
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.
Dennis
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.
HeuristicWorld
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Missed a lot of important information the first time around. I can tell that this book and Deutsch's 2nd book, The Beginning of Infinity, are going to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Daniel Bassiri
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A mind blowing book; thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in the topic. I don’t have a physics background and admittedly did not follow the logic in its entirety, but found it fascinating nevertheless. Here is my layman’s review:

Early on in the book, it concludes that interference from a single electron on a double slit experiment is evidence of shadow particles from parallel universes and thereby the existence of the multiverse.

It then uses this premise to drive other topics throug
...more
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
...more
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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

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Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Seveneves, Reamde, Anathem, The System of th...
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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.” 17 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.” 9 likes
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