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Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information (Oxford Landmark Science) 2nd Edition
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About the Author
Vlatko Vedral studied undergraduate theoretical physics at Imperial College London, where he also received a PhD for his work on 'Quantum Information Theory of Entanglement'. Since June 2009, Vedral has held the position of Professor of Quantum Information Science at the University of Oxford. He also holds a professorship in Physics at the National University of Singapore. Throughout his career he has held a number of visiting professorships at different international institutions. He has published more than 170 research papers and has written two undergraduate textbooks. He has frequently written for popular science journals and major daily newspapers, as well as having done extensive radio programmes and television interviews.
- Item Weight : 6.7 ounces
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0198815433
- ISBN-13 : 978-0198815433
- Dimensions : 0.7 x 5 x 7.6 inches
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (April 8, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #212,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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However, that expertise is not apparent in this book. It does not explain any individual topic well enough for anyone (even a very smart person) to understand it. I know this because I am quite familiar with one or two of the (many) topics discussed and in those instances it seemed that Dr. Vedral either oversimplifying or simply doesn't know what he is talking about.
For instance, on p140 of my version, he writes that an ATM multiplies your 4 digit PIN with a 500 digit number, and it is this 504 digit number which gets transferred. This is secure, he states, because factoring this number would take longer than the age of the universe. But couldn't you simply divide the 504 digit number by all the 4 digit numbers? The PIN would then have to be one of the 4 digit numbers that evenly divided it. Is there some subtle point here that's not mentioned? Or was there a simple editing mistake? Or is this whole ATM bit just BS? The reader not familiar with the subject cannot tell. To take two other examples, Vedral breezes over Popperian falsificationism and Kolmogorov complexity theory without hinting at the extreme philosophical or practical difficulties that beset these two ideas.
To summarize, no one could learn anything significant from this book. I'm sure Vedral is extremely distinguished, but this book reads like it was written by a dilettante who went down a list of 50 fascinating topics and spent 30 minutes learning about each of them.
The key theoretical foundation of Vedral's book is Information Theory, but Vedral extends this to a much broader scope - indeed, the broadest possible as he explains that all reality is information, and that nothing exists outside the interactions between observers and the observed (in keeping with a key postulate of Quantum Physics).
Vedral's book spans many different subjects - Biology, Thermodynamics, Economics, Sociology, Quantum Physics, Computer Science and Philosophy - each in beautifully and clearly written chapters, where his theory that "information is reality' (or "information is physical" as he states early in the book's Prologue) emerges in all these different slices of human knowledge.
At times Vedral must cut a few corners to make his story-line fit within a book that is less than 220 pages, but this does not detract from a very original and intriguing attempt to answer some of the biggest and deepest questions ever posed: What is reality? How did it all start? How (and if) will it end? And - probably very challenging for some - do we 'need' God to explain the Universe?
You will probably not look at your chair the same way you did before reading this book...
Top reviews from other countries
On the plus side he conveys Von Neumann's ideas about self replicating machines well, and the idea that the information content of something is proportional to its surface area rather than its volume was well put.
But he glosses over too many details, starts on a topic then abandons it, states a conclusion with no reasoning, then several pages later gives the justification, but often in a hand waving way. The reader feels treated like Dr Who's assistant, we have to take his word for things because he can't explain them clearly and precisely.
He also seems to have completely missed the point with global warming, it isn't the waste heat of living that will kill us, it's the greenhouse effect.
However his reading list at the end is wonderful - though I would have included "The non-local universe" by Nadeau and Kafatos.