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Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,967 ratings  ·  271 reviews
As you read these words, copies of you are being created.

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and one of this world’s most celebrated writers on science, rewrites the history of 20th century physics. Already hailed as a masterpiece, Something Deeply Hidden shows for the first time that facing up to the essential puzzle of quantum mechanics utterly transforms how we think a
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Dutton
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Daniel Novaes I don't believe so. I haven't finished it yet, but so far I understood the concepts presented, even though I had to re-read a few phrases a lot of tim…moreI don't believe so. I haven't finished it yet, but so far I understood the concepts presented, even though I had to re-read a few phrases a lot of times to firmly grasp the concept of things that aren't intuitive, but those concepts wouldn't be more intuitive if I had a physics degree.(less)

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Scientific Revelation

There is more than a hint of theological method in modern physics. Carroll confirms this in his insistence that quantum physics is, in his words, not an ‘epistemic’ but an ‘ontological’ discipline His claim is that current quantum theory is a description of the way the world really is not merely a way of understanding the world. This is the traditional position of theologians who would like us all to consider God as the ultimate reality even if we find this reality to be not
Manuel Antão
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Pascal's Triangle: "Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime" by Sean Carroll

“When a spin is measured, the wave function branches via decoherence [according to the MWI], a single world splits into two and there are now two people where used to be just one. It makes no sense to ask which one is ‘really me.’ Likewise, before the branching happens, it makes no sense to wonder which branch ‘I’ will end up in.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, physics
This book is about the "Many-Worlds" hypothesis of quantum mechanics. It is a deep description of the hypothesis, and its context in quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics does not violate logic; its precise predictions are correct, and among the most accurate of any scientific theory. But its foundations are still quite controversial, especially when it comes to understanding the role of gravitation.

The Many-Worlds hypothesis is a simple way to explain some of the seeming paradoxes of quantum me
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
This book puts up an intellectual defense of the many-worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics first proposed by Hugh Everett III in 1957. I was sold on this interpretation a long time ago but I like the way Carroll presents his case. The Everettian view is the most conservative metaphysical view of quantum mechanics with the fewest ad hoc additions to squeeze the theory into our common-sense notions. Because of this, the conclusions of this conservative framework are the most counterintuitive ...more
Peter Tillman
Rather than the confusing publisher's blurb, I recommend starting with the author's essay about his book:

I struggled with Carroll's book, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to this (physics-impaired) old geologist. He writes well, and the history of the hostile reception to new research on the roots of quantum theory is deeply disturbing. Make no mistake, no one doubts that quantum mechanics works. And is deeply weird. Feynman once said something like
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics."
- Richard Feynman

"Shut up and calculate."
- David Mermin

"Sweet is by convention, bitter by convention, cold by convention, color by convention; in truth there are only atoms and the void."
- Democritus


As an amateur, I love physics. I think there is something in my brain that associates the bleeding edge of physics with poetry and art. I'm not the only one. Authors like Thomas Pynchon and Cormac McCarthy are constantly using physi
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics
In this book Carroll fully embraces the reality of quantum mechanics. He doesn’t accept that it’s just useful for calculations. Carroll says that the quantum world is the real world. Rather than proceed from classical physics to explain the quantum world Carroll starts with the quantum world to find out how it builds the world described by classical physics. Carroll’s approach leads to what many consider outlandish conclusions.

Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Caltech and an award winning au
Laura Noggle
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is like taking acid, be warned—it's a total trip.

Not that I'd know, but I'm guessing based on Rick and Morty episodes I've never watched.

In other words, don't take my word for it, I need to brush up on my quantum mechanics apparently.

“On the other hand, in the memorable words of Richard Feynman, 'I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.'”

“Should the branching of our current selves into multiple future selves affect the choices we make? In the textbook view,
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Lovers, Physics Nerds, Quantum Theory Buffs
Shelves: 2019-reviews

Sean Carroll’s Something Deeply Hidden tackles the difficult many worlds theories of quantum mechanics. It’s weird; it’s funny; it’s deeply philosophical and worth reading. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this as an ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Find this and other reviews at my website


According to quantum mechanics, it’s entirely possible that there are multiple copies of you reading multiple copies of this r
Deniz Yuret
I eagerly waited for this book for a year. Having read Deutsch, Albert, Aaronson, Becker, I had very high expectations about the insights Carroll would add.

The book fell short on introducing and justifying quantum concepts. Entangled pairs are presented without the obvious comparison to correlated classical objects (like two pieces of a torn card, as soon as I look at mine the one you have is determined faster than the speed of light ;) Bell’s theorem is not explained at all, when there are so
This was definitely one of Carroll's more technical works. While his language as always as simple as it can be for the layman, there's only a certainly level of simplicity to which quantum theory can be broken down. That said, Carroll does good work interspersing all of the necessary technicalities with a more story-form description of the ideas behind quantum gravity, Many Worlds, and quantum physics, so if only half of the book sticks with you, you're still bound to learn something. Carroll's ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
First third is fantastic! The latter bits get quite meandering... It seems I am always very curious about the scope of Carroll’s books but never quite getting what I expect.

Nowhere near as engrossing as Rovelli’s stuff. So... a very reserved recommendation.
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first part is easier to read and comprehend than the following parts. The latter, while containing many gems and food for thought as well, was much more muddled and difficult to follow. Chapter 8, the ‘dialogue’, is silly and should have been left out.

In my opinion, Rovelli is a better teacher.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do not multiple entities unnecessarily. The Copenhagen Interpretation necessitates the additional entity of an observer or a detection device, take away that added entity you will have the world described by the wave function and that’s how Hugh Everett III (remember that name, if you don’t already know who he is) gets at in his MWI (multi-world-interpretation).

Is gravity real? Or is it just a label we put on the mathematics which aids us in understanding the world. Do we appeal to the epistemol
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
The problems of quantum worlds and the emergence of spacetime are essentially mathematical. If you don't look at the math, you don't have a problem. So although I have loved several of Carroll's other books, I think this one is a failure. He spends the whole book trying to describe mathematical problems, and their (possible) mathematical solutions, without any mathematics. Which can't be done, so the reader learns very little about either the problems or the solutions. Read "The Big Picture," an ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think this is probably closer to a 4.5 star than 5 star rating for me, but I only have integer values. I have a lot of things I don't agree with Professor Carroll, but he has great explanations and makes it clear where he is speculating. That gets it the final star for me.

Carroll is a very clear and lucid writer, and that is very helpful for a book like this. He goes over quantum mechanics, quantum interpretations, and a possible way to look at quantum gravity. This is all written excellently
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Rather than talking about you at 5:01 pm, we need to talk about the person at 5:01 pm who descended from you at 5 pm, and who ended up on the spin-up branch of the wave function, and likewise to the person on the spin-down branch. In many worlds, the lifespan of any person should be thought of as a branching tree, with multiple individuals at any one time, rather than as a single trajectory."

Intrigued? Read on.

This should not be your first book on the topic of quantum theory. High School scienc
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, science
What you (don’t) see is what you get. Sean Carroll brings the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum field theory to the people. Something Deeply Hidden delivers what I was looking for. It strikes exactly the right tone as his breezy demeanor encompasses a deep dive that does not shy away from equations and competing theories.
Carroll is really rather heroic, clearly the in-group at physics conferences have disdain for those spending time talking about philosophical implications of discoveries o
Ali علی
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Carroll raises the *ontological* question regarding quantum physics but despite his various forays into philosophical issues from determinism to utilitarianism, doesn't realise that the ontological question at the more general level will still remain even if it's solved at the local/quantum level. I can't say much about his prowess as a physicist but I found his understanding of the philosophical issues rather mediocre. One learns fair number of disparate facts but at least I failed to get even ...more
Thomas Ray
Sep 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: at-library
Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, Sean Carroll, 2019, 347pp, ISBN 9781524743017 Dewey 530.12

The author is physicist Sean M. Carroll, b. 1966,

NOT biologist Sean B. Carroll, b. 1960,

"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." --Richard P. Feynman. p. 2.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge; ontology is the study of what is real. p. 30.

"an initially u
Realms & Robots
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Something Deeply Hidden is that rare science nonfiction book that’s both easy to understand and incredibly complex. This is quantum mechanics like you’ve never seen, laid out in an understandable fashion. With a combination of history, basic explanations, and visual aids that simplify its complexities, Carroll presents an essential guide to this mysterious field. 

I’ll admit I was nervous as I started reading the book. At first glance, the subject matter seems too dense for a basic human without
This book addresses the incompleteness and alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics. Carroll is an unapologetic MWI proponent, but he doesn't let this ruin his impartial delivery of the science. For the most part.

Unfortunately, he does oversell the strengths of MWI, claiming it solves problems. It may very well be the framework under which those solutions are someday found, but he significantly misrepresents "promises, in my opinion, to solve" as "solves".
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Something Deeply Hidden is a difficult book. I had to go through it twice back to back to understand only a small fraction of all that it tries to teach and convey. Only the first two paragraphs below are a review of the book, while the rest are my reflections on what I understood, I learned, I doubt and where I disagree.

The book is not for the starters. The subject matter assumes extreme pre-knowledge of the early twentieth-century quantum mechanic ideas and evolution. For those well prepared t
David W. W.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sean Carroll's new book is probably the single best argument for the Everett understanding of quantum mechanics - the approach often called (although slightly misleadingly) the Many Worlds Interpretation.

Carroll makes clear the powerful attractions of the Everett understanding, and persuasively counters the objections that are commonly raised against it. He highlights how this approach is the natural, straightforward response to the remarkable success of the quantum formalism. Despite its appare
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This one fell a bit short of getting the balance between story and science exactly right for me. Most of this imbalance is a result of Carroll being caught in some ineffective middle ground between not enough technical information at times and jumping ahead to too much detail at others. The decisions about when to provide visual explanations or equations were not effectively calibrated in my mind. The book is not without its charms. Carroll's earnestness in wanting to move the reader through the ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not as mind shattering as The Big Picture but definitely the first book to really help me understand and maybe believe Everett's Many Worlds theory of physics. Sean Carroll is my go to explainer of physics at this point. If you haven't heard his podcast yet you should check it out.
Prejudice Neutrino
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I don’t feel as if I learned any of the topics to the level of depth that I would have liked to. Many topics were discussed, but unfortunately only at a superficial level. I love the podcast, but I can’t really say I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in quantum mechanics.

I wish each chapter had a summary at the end so I could at least have an idea of what was trying to be conveyed at some parts in the book and perhaps a glossary/further reading recommendations at the end.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
"HC SVNT DRACONES" (Here be dragons)
"The enigma at the heart of quantum reality can be summed up in a simple motto: what we see when we look at the world seems to be fundamentally different from what actually is."
Awesome book.
Not sure about others, but every time I accomplish another quantum physics endeavor I delve emotionally into that hazy picture of presenting the atomic cloud Enrico Fermi pointed to and said: "Here be dragons!"
...and every time I'm catching myself wondering how does this a
Galen Weitkamp
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime
By Sean Carroll.
Review by Galen Weitkamp.

Sean Carroll is a Research Professor of Physics at Caltech and the Santa Fe Institute. I remember waiting, back in 2004, for the publication of his textbook (Spacetime and Geometry) on general relativity. In spite of the mathematical intricacies of tensor calculus, Professor Carroll’s exposition is clear and intuitive. It has become my standard reference on matters of gravity.

John Devlin
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
So you think you know quantum and then this guy comes along or the next chapter appears. The thesis is there’s nothing wrong with the many world theorem simply because our human brains aren’t fond of the notion of alternate Realities. That’s not invalidating and doesn’t make it wrong or incomplete.

I agree. The same argument could be made against certain areas of relativity.

My questions arise when the idea of many worlds bumps up against Martin Rees book on the singular qualities that this univer
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Science and Inquiry: February 2020 - Something Deeply Hidden 29 138 Mar 25, 2020 01:40AM  

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Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993. His research focuses on issues in cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His book The Particle at the End of the Universe won the prestigious Winton Prize for Science Books in 2013. Carroll lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.

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