What is Real?
July 13, 2018 6:18 PM   Subscribe

What is Real?
I wrote a book! It’s a popular science book (no equations), and it’s called What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics. It’s about the 90-year-long struggle to decipher what quantum physics says about the true nature of the world around us. It’s my first book, and I’m still in shock that it’s done (and I'm really nervous about promoting it here). But apparently people like it: the New York Times called What is Real? “a thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science.”

Quantum physics powers the cell phones in our pockets and the sun in our sky. It’s our most successful theory of the world. But there’s a hole at the heart of the theory: we don’t understand what quantum physics is saying about reality. Physicists have debated this for nearly a century, and the story of that debate—the story I tell in my book—reveals a fascinating human side of the scientific enterprise. If you’re not a scientist, but you want to understand quantum physics, and you like reading about science and the people behind it, then this book is for you.

In addition to The New York Times, the book has received very favorable reviews in The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Science, Nature, The Quantum Times, the Boston Review, Publishers Weekly, and New Scientist.

My publishers are Basic Books (US/Canada) and John Murray (UK/everywhere else). Both are imprints of Hachette. Errata for the book are here.

Finally: if you want a taste of what the book is like, check out this interactive essay about the strangest result in all of quantum physics (works best on a desktop).
Role: Author
posted by freelanceastro (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

This is relevant to my interests! I was going to download the audiobook, but before I do, does the text rely heavily on illustrations? If so, I may opt for a hard copy.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:59 PM on July 13


roger_ackroyd, there are about two dozen illustrations and photographs, and yes, certain parts of the text do depend on them pretty heavily. But, there's a digital supplement that comes with the audiobook, which includes the illustrations. (You won't get this if you buy the audiobook on CD, but I don't think anyone buys audiobooks on CDs anymore.)

That being said, I think it's probably easier to follow those parts of the text that do rely on the illustrations if you have the printed book. The printed book also has a short appendix and ~70 pages of endnotes and references that you don't get in the audiobook.
Also, full disclosure, I get slightly more money if you buy a hardcover than I do if you buy the audiobook. But I do genuinely think hardcover is a better format for this book (though the audiobook ain't bad).
posted by freelanceastro at 4:50 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I just finished the book and really enjoyed it.

My theory is that the reason quantum physics is so confusing is that Bohm, Bohr, and Born sound too much alike.
posted by moonmilk at 1:55 PM on August 17


Just started reading this and am enjoying it.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:29 PM on August 22


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