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Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: Something Deeply Hidden

Something Deeply Hidden is Sean Carroll's book about the foundations of Quantum Theory. The thesis of the book is that most of the physics community has taken quantum mechanics in an approach known as "shut up and calculate", basically using the tools of quantum mechanics as engineering assets or to develop more experiments and predictions, but without considering the actual meaning of the theory.

The book is about the meaning of the theory, and the competing interpretation of what the existence of quantum mechanics is. Carroll is an unabashed believe of the multiple worlds approach, basically where every quantum event splits into two timelines that cannot share information. He takes pains to note that human decisions are macroscopic events, so there isn't a version of you who decided to skip college and do something more unconventional instead, unless you used the quantum random number generator to make your decisions. The competing approaches, like the hidden variables approach, Caroll claims, are less elegant, positing that there's something deeper than quantum mechanics at work, where the many-worlds approach takes quantum mechanics as face value as the way physics work.

There's an exploration of how the theory came to be, what the difference between particles and fields are, and what the wave function of quantum mechanics mean. There's even a section where a father and daughter discuss quantum mechanics, which makes for great reading. There's an explanation of what the quantum gravity problem is, and where research is taking place in this topic. As a fairly easy to read book on the topic I thought it was well done. Recommended.

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