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Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  486 ratings  ·  63 reviews
For a physicist, all the world's information. The Universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information. We are all transient patterns of information, passing on the recipe for our basic forms to future generations using a four-letter digital code called DNA.
In this engaging and mind-stretching account, Vlatko Vedral considers some of the deepest questions about t
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 12th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 1st 2010)
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Josh Friedlander
I'm used to science writing by people who are first and foremost authors, so reading this - written by a Physics professor at Oxford and the National University of Singapore - was quite jarring. Vedral has boundless enthusiasm for his subject matter, but lacks any sense of style (you can almost hear the cadence of his native Serbia in his prose), tends towards weak jokes, and sometimes takes for granted the reader's understanding of quite difficult, unfamiliar concepts. (The concept of entanglem ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is mostly about application of Shannon's information theory in a variety of areas.
It also includes a layman's introduction to:

√ Shannon's information theory
√ Self-replication and genetics
√ Boltzmann's entropy formula
√ Maxwell's Demon
√ Laplace's demon
√ Quantum computing
√ Quantum cryptography
√ Holographic principle

I have a HUGE problem with the discussion on Global Warming!!!
Vedral argues all activities that use energy to do work produce waste heat.
This is true, but he implies this caus
Bob Finch
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
For a book about information, this one contains remarkably little. Too bad, because the author touches on some very interesting issues. But every time he would seem to get to some point, he leaves off and moves to another topic or analogy. There are more substantive books and original papers about the role of information in (understanding) the universe. In fact, the author provides several good references. I would suggest reading those.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating insights presented in a somewhat tedious way.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Excellent on all counts."

The author takes a very complicated subject and makes it understandable. He tells you what he's going to tell you, says it and then tells you what he said. He really does connect the dots between information and quantum theory. As he says, "information is physical" and explains what he means by that.
Julian Sale
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is written for the lay reader. Vedral does a pretty good job of distilling a hugely complex subject in a readable book. Although I read with anticipation of the next revelation or mind bending thought right to the last page but somehow was left not fully satisfied.
Benjamin Babeshkin
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. Has a very good explanation for Information theory. And really changes your view of the universe and the Big Bang.
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
"Why is there something rather than nothing?" – wonders Kraus too, and he argues existence arose from nothingness, attributing this mysterious behavior to quantum fluctuations of the void.

Profesor Vedral’s Decoding Reality is arguing that the Creation Ex-nihilo and Destruction Ab Toto, all from nothing and nothing from all is the “flip-flop”/ flip-flop is the 1 and 0, the ON and OFF, 2B and NOT 2B, the + and the – etc/ way of our perceiving information, processing information and creating reali
Mar 13, 2019 added it
I enjoyed this book a great deal. This idea that the universe is information or course appeals to a computer geek such as myself, as well as the idea that the universe is a holographic projection from 2d information. When you look at the most recent discoveries in quantum mechanics that seem to be pointing to the idea that different observers can see the same quantum information differently, it seems that the universe we live in is far weirder than we knows, and pushes everything we sense via ou ...more
Mengsen Zhang
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
There are a couple reasons that make me feel like I'm not an appropriate audience for this book: (1) it's SO watered down for my taste. I'd probably enjoy it much more if it's only 30 pages. (2) materials are listed in a narrative way rather than connected in a logical way. I need to read how ideas/concepts/laws etc. are logically derived from one another, not just listing the statements in different domains of study and claim a victory. (3) no proper figures. Actually, no figures at all, on whi ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing Review
For a physicist, all the world is information. The Universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information. We are all transient patterns of information, passing on the recipe for our basic forms to future generations using a four-letter digital code called DNA.

In this engaging and mind-stretching account, Vlatko Vedral considers some of the deepest questions about the Universe and considers the implications of interpreting it in terms of information. He explains the natu
Nicola Mayer
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: physics
I learned to not trust anybody that pretends to explain everything starting from a unique theory, even more if it's a scientist. Although the brightness of the author can be seen in its unique way of explaining difficult theoretical and experimental features of information theory and quantum mechanics, as too many scientists do he sadly lacks in modesty when he tries to talk about other disciplines, most importantly philosophy and psychology (such as labelling psychology as a pseudo-science with ...more
Cid Medeiros
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mind changer kind of book. It's very educational in both main subjects as well as thought provoking. Information Theory is placed at the core of human process of constructing reality which gives birth to an amazing number of possibilities when aligned to the bizarre quantum behaviour observed in photons, atoms and molecules. The author makes clear right way about the audacious nature of his conjectures which worked for me as a trigger to viscerally read his ideas. If you want to begin to learn a ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book sounded great although I was a bit put off by the 'Key points' sections that end each chapter. However the first chapter kept making points that seemed to me incorrect - and I'm not going to accept his logic just on his own say so.... so no point going on. A shame.
Martin Adams
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
fantastic read introducing difficult concepts in a readable way
Tom Menke
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a must read to set the stage for carroll
B. Rule
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to be generous and round up because the concepts in this book are fascinating. Unfortunately, the execution is seriously lacking. I really wish Vedral had engaged a co-author to help him punch this up. He's clearly a smart guy with an interesting approach but he is a terrible written communicator. Had I lacked a fair amount of dilettante background on a lot of his subjects, I often would have been totally lost. He rushes through hard topics, gives confusing and often misleading example ...more
Alex Galea
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
A decent and thought provoking read.

I enjoyed some of the stories, like the card game analogy to life, or John von Neumann's self replicating framework. That part of the book made me realize how amazing DNA is at preserving information. It's amazing to think that we are now at the point where it may be possible to encode information in DNA for this purpose.

I don't think Vlatko did a great job at explaining concepts, and he could have benefited from more time spent on this. More examples would ha
Lee Barry
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
James Lovelock referenced this in one of his books. Very interesting. A much better theory of reality than Donald Hoffman’s. I liked the chapter “Social Informatics” because it gives us a look back to 2010 when social media was in its early phases—or “phase transitions.”

"Some sociologists are optimistic that the information age will lead to a fairer society that will improve everyone's living conditions, as well as narrowing the gap between the haves and have-nots. Others are rather pessimistic,
Alessandro Piovaccari
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting books full of intriguing ideas. I really enjoy reading it. That said, it is not necessarily an easy book to read without previous good understanding of the topics. I also found that some of the easy parts are a little bit long, while the hardest topics do not have enough support material. Some support pictures would have certainly helped.
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most counterintuitive books I ever read, beautifully converges betting, thermodynamics, information theory and Quantum mechanics, provides a fresh perspective to look at the world from a view of probabilities, low probability events
S.E. Anderson
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fantastic science, a little confusing at times, but you can read the author's passion for the subject through the pages and that leaves you pretty hooked.
Strong Extraordinary Dreams
simplistic, child-like. closer to a proposal for a children's cartoon series than anything else.

Vijayakumar Belur
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A tough one for a general read but a new approach to understand the basis of reality. Would have liked more elaboration on advaita philosophy of Hindus.
Ayan Dutta
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I know all the answers now !!
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, in-england
Wasn’t that technical so quite an enjoyable read, that said there are some leaps where you wonder how exactly he got from a to b, or based his conclusions.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wrote a couple of pages of notes on the book. Let me know if you're interested in them.

In summary.
Information has an log inverse relationship with probability.
This relationship bares a resemblance to the classical definition of the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy. Wherein Boltzmann defines Entropy as S= k*log(w).

Shannon entropy or information is so called because it's close resemblance to this classical definition.

Looking at the world through the focused lens of Shannon information and i
Yasser Mohammad
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is the first time I give any book I read a single star. It was really hard to finish this book.
First of all, the main thesis of the book is an understanding of the universe as a quantum information processor and the book starts with this wonderful game with cards that change "our information" about reality but ends with a very strange trial to just equate our information with objective information which is something that seems very fishy for me.

The first part of the book is supposedly intro
Jim Razinha
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is the second book I've read in which the author tries to explain nearly everything in terms of a single principle (well, I'm still plowing through Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, so technically, this is the first of the two I've finished). Vedral wants to reduce everything to an application of Claude Shannon's information theory, but too many of his arguments and leading conclusions are riddled with flaws. Listing and addressing them all would be exhausting, but I will say that he ...more
Vedral set out to write a book for the non-scientist and did an amazing job of making complex concepts simple. However, I feel to some degree the concepts were, at times, made too simple. The scientifically minded non-physicist need only read the epilogue to understand Vedral's entire argument. He has published over 200 academic papers. I was hoping this book would, in addition to introducing the history and current understanding of information theory, give more of a summary of his own work. Suc ...more
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Vlatko Vedral is a Serbian born (and naturalised British Citizen) Physicist and Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore and a Fellow of Wolfson College. He is known for his research on the theory of Entanglement and Quantum Information Theory. As of 2010 he has published over 150 research papers in quantum m ...more

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