9780198830153

Quantum Reality: The Quest for the Real Meaning of Quantum Mechanics - A Game of Theories


Quantum mechanics is an extraordinarily successful scientific theory. It is also completely mad. Although the theory quite obviously works, it leaves us chasing ghosts and phantoms; particles that are waves and waves that are particles; cats that are at once both alive and dead; and lots of seemingly spooky goings-on.

But if we’re prepared to be a little more specific about what we mean when we talk about ‘reality’ and a little more circumspect in the way we think a scientific theory might represent such a reality, then all the mystery goes away. This shows that the choice we face is actually a philosophical one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an interpretation in which there is no mystery. If we choose instead to pull on the loose thread we are inevitably obliged to take the quantum representation at face value, and interpret its concepts more literally. Surprise, surprise. The fabric unravels to give us all those things about the quantum world that we find utterly baffling, and we’re right back where we started.

In its opening chapters, Quantum Reality provides a quick but comprehensive introduction to quantum mechanics for the general reader, and explains what makes this theory so very different. It also provides an overview of the processes involved in developing scientific theories and explains how these lead to different philosophical positions, essential if we are to understand the nature of the great debate between Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein. The balance of the book provides a comprehensive guide to attempts to determine what the theory actually means, from the Copenhagen interpretation to many worlds and the multiverse.

Richard Feynman once declared that ‘nobody understands quantum mechanics’. Quantum Reality will tell you why.

  • Oxford University Press (25 June 2020)