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The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications Paperback – August 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0140275414 ISBN-10: 014027541X Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014027541X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140275414
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"Our best theories are not only truer than common sense, they make more sense than common sense," writes physicist David Deutsch. In The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch traces what he considers the four main strands of scientific explanation: quantum theory, evolution, computation, and the theory of knowledge. "The four of them taken together form a coherent explanatory structure that is so far-reaching, and has come to encompass so much of our understanding of the world, that in my view it may already properly be called the first Theory of Everything." Deutsch covers some difficult material with unusual clarity. Each chapter ends with a summary and definitions of important terms, which makes the work an invaluable sourcebook. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Common sense and reality diverge and then come together again in this mind-blowing book. Maintaining that the best explanation for certain quantum phenomena is that there are parallel universes, i.e., multiverses, Oxford physicist Deutsch posits and then attempts to unify four basic strands?quantum physics, epistemology, evolution, and the theory of computation. Just one astonishing consequence is that quantum computers can collaborate between universes. Deutsch's ideas are exotic and challenging, but his text is surprisingly accessible, and he supplies a glossary and summary at the end of every chapter. For motivated readers, this book is a feast for the mind. Strongly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

(Just because modern scientific discourse is more civil does not mean that Kuhn's argument is incorrect.
D. Cloyce Smith
It is the bedrock of his theory of multiple universes, but rather than discuss the obvious objections, he moves on to philosophical conjectures rather than physics.
This is one of the books you cannot read through once to appreciate, more like two or three readings, and each time it will blow your mind.
no longer a customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 178 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on May 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Deutsch's presentation is fascinating, mind-expanding, challenging, provocative, and--at times--riveting. It is also infuriating, perplexing, reductive, and--at times--vague. (Please note: I am not convinced that the multiverse as Deutsch describes it exists, nor am I threatened by the possibility that it might. As a result, I do not mean to quarrel with--or support--the idea itself. Instead, I am reviewing Deutsch's book from the point of view of a lay reader.)
I do recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a summary of the pursuit of a "theory of everything" and a defense of the science of parallel universes. Deutsch's theory of everything depends on four theories: quantum (as espoused by Everett), epistemology (Popper), evolution (Dawkins), and computation (Turing). Even if one does not ultimately agree with Deutsch's ideas, his book offers some interesting thought experiments (the chapter on "time travel" is especially fun) and a concise overview of several scientific trends. In addition, his book provides a decent defense of why the theory of the multiverse should be considered a reasonable explanation for the interference results obtained the infamous two-slit experiment.
That said, I do think Deutsch's book contains many shortcomings. First, although the multiverse may be a valid explanation for interference phenomenon, Deutsch fails to convince that it is THE explanation. In one short paragraph, he dismisses David Bohm's theory of wave-particle duality. "Working out what Bohm's invisible wave will do requires the same computations as working out what trillions of shadow photons will do.
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Dick Oliver on September 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of books that try to explain science to the layman and forward some new and grandiose worldview at the same time. Most of them do okay at the former, but fail miserably at the latter. This book does both, perhaps better than any book I've ever read (and I read a lot of science books). Deutsch identifies and explains the most important and interesting aspects of both quantum theory (his main topic) and the intimate relationships between it and the sciences of epistemology, computability, and evolution. The explanations are intuitive and easy to follow if you have any technical background at all, and sometimes even if you don't. Better yet, he convincingly synthesizes them into a truly compelling argument for a new (well, okay, not new but not yet widely accepted) view of reality on the deepest and widest possible scale. He steps onto a bit more shaky ground when he tries to bring in a "kitchen sink" of disciplines, some of which he doesn't seem to know nearly as much about as his native discipline (physics). Still, even the less convincing extensions to his basic idea are well considered and thought-provoking. And the basic idea itself--that zillions of not-quite-identical copies of our universe exist and are just as real and tangible as our own--is more than enough to make this book a phenomenal "mind-expanding" experience
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Palle E T Jorgensen VINE VOICE on July 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was published in 1997, and a lot has happened since then. Yet the foundations retain their permanence, and David Deutsch's captivating writing is as fresh as ever. Despite the availability of newer books, for the layman/woman, now almost 10 years later, I would still rank this book at the top. There is a lot in the book; and yet, the ideas are presented in a clear and engaging way. The author is a pioneer, a giant in modern physics; he was and is a driving force in new discoveries in the subject. Yet he has his personal way of explaining physical reality. His view is not shared by all scientists, one should admit. However, there is agreement about the scientific conclusions. The first chapter in the book stresses *explanation*, our understanding of the reason for things. There are other views of science, e.g., instrumentalism: predicting the outcome of experiments.

The author's view on quantum theory is based his idea about parallel universes. While fascination, the reader should be aware that there are alternative theories for explaining quantum phenomena. An important concept in quantum theory and quantum computation is "decoherence", and it is explained (ch 9) in terms of different (parallel) universes. In ch 9 about quantum computers, it might have been only fair to mention that there are such other current views on decoherence; but this is a minor complaint.

Presentation: I love that each chapter concludes with a section on terminology and a summary.

As a subject theoretical computer science started with Alan Turing and John von Neumann in the 1940ties: Classical computation follows the model of Turing,-- strings of bits, i.e., 0s and 1s; and a mathematical model which is now called the Turing machine.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Minor on October 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
David Deutch's 'Fabric of Reality' marks the triumphant return of Natural Philosophy. The central aim of this book is to present the structure of our best theories (evolution, [Quantum] computer science and epistemology) in a way that clearly relates them to our understanding of reality, and then show how these structures are inextricably intertwined. I believe he is remarkably successful and displays a thorough understanding of the subject matter outside of his 'native' QM as those subjects relate to his 'Theory of Everything'. Speaking of which, he is also the first (that I know of) to come anywhere close to understanding what this TOE really IS (and will become). That is, our TOE is now, and at any point in the future or past, the core intertwining of these theoretical strucures he so elegantly exposes.

In order to appreciate this book, it is neccessary to understand the angle Deutch takes on the undertanding of science and the growth of knowledge. And this requires a bit of historical context.

In the early 20th century, the two infant sciences of quantum mechanics and computation theory had no observed connections. In turn, the counter-intuitive results of the quantum theory (as revealed over the next 100 years) led to a loss of confidence in our ability to understand reality (as expoused by such buzzwords as 'uncertainty'). This intellectual climate led many of our best scientists to ignore the importance of taking our best theories seriously. Instrumentalism and positivism flourished. Explaination and understanding where not considered fundamentally important. Everything was arbitrary and only utility mattered (in the sense that accurate prediction was thought to be the only useful thing to do with a theory).
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