The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III

Author: Peter Byrne
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191655227
Release Date: 2012-12-13
Genre: Science

Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982), whose "many worlds" theory of multiple universes has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the general reader, a detailed portrait of the genius who invented an astonishing way of describing our complex universe from the inside. Everett's mathematical model (called the "universal wave function") treats all possible events as "equally real", and concludes that countless copies of every person and thing exist in all possible configurations spread over an infinity of universes: many worlds. Afflicted by depression and addictions, Everett strove to bring rational order to the professional realms in which he played historically significant roles. In addition to his famous interpretation of quantum mechanics, Everett wrote a classic paper in game theory; created computer algorithms that revolutionized military operations research; and performed pioneering work in artificial intelligence for top secret government projects. He wrote the original software for targeting cities in a nuclear hot war; and he was one of the first scientists to recognize the danger of nuclear winter. As a Cold Warrior, he designed logical systems that modeled "rational" human and machine behaviors, and yet he was largely oblivious to the emotional damage his irrational personal behavior inflicted upon his family, lovers, and business partners. He died young, but left behind a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with such philosophically inclined physicists as Niels Bohr, Norbert Wiener, and John Wheeler. These remarkable letters illuminate the long and often bitter struggle to explain the paradox of measurement at the heart of quantum physics. In recent years, Everett's solution to this mysterious problem - the existence of a universe of universes - has gained considerable traction in scientific circles, not as science fiction, but as an explanation of physical reality.

The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III

Author: Peter Byrne
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199552276
Release Date: 2010-05-06
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982) who invented a theory of multiple universes that has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Everett strove to bring a "rational" order to the interlacing worlds of nuclear war and physics, even as his personal world disintegrated because of his indulgent lifestyle. Using Everett's unpublished papers and dozens of interviews, the book paints a detailed portrait of a man who influencedfoundational thinking in quantum mechanics by inventing a way of viewing the universe from inside (known as the universal wave function).The papers on which this book is based create a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with the leading scientific minds of the day, that illuminates theoften bitter struggle over the interpretation of the mystery of measurement at the heart of quantum mechanics.

The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III

Author: Peter Byrne
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191576430
Release Date: 2010-05-06
Genre: Science

Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982), whose "many worlds" theory of multiple universes has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the general reader, a detailed portrait of the genius who invented an astonishing way of describing our complex universe from the inside. Everett's mathematical model (called the "universal wave function") treats all possible events as "equally real", and concludes that countless copies of every person and thing exist in all possible configurations spread over an infinity of universes: many worlds. Afflicted by depression and addictions, Everett strove to bring rational order to the professional realms in which he played historically significant roles. In addition to his famous interpretation of quantum mechanics, Everett wrote a classic paper in game theory; created computer algorithms that revolutionized military operations research; and performed pioneering work in artificial intelligence for top secret government projects. He wrote the original software for targeting cities in a nuclear hot war; and he was one of the first scientists to recognize the danger of nuclear winter. As a Cold Warrior, he designed logical systems that modeled "rational" human and machine behaviors, and yet he was largely oblivious to the emotional damage his irrational personal behavior inflicted upon his family, lovers, and business partners. He died young, but left behind a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with such philosophically inclined physicists as Niels Bohr, Norbert Wiener, and John Wheeler. These remarkable letters illuminate the long and often bitter struggle to explain the paradox of measurement at the heart of quantum physics. In recent years, Everett's solution to this mysterious problem - the existence of a universe of universes - has gained considerable traction in scientific circles, not as science fiction, but as an explanation of physical reality.

Many Worlds

Author: Simon Saunders
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191614118
Release Date: 2010-06-24
Genre: Philosophy

What does realism about the quantum state imply? What follows when quantum theory is applied without restriction, if need be, to the whole universe? These are the questions which an illustrious team of philosophers and physicists debate in this volume. All the contributors are agreed on realism, and on the need, or the aspiration, for a theory that unites micro- and macroworlds, at least in principle. But the further claim argued by some is that if you allow the Schrödinger equation unrestricted application, supposing the quantum state to be something physically real, then this universe is one of countlessly many others, constantly branching in time, all of which are real. The result is the many worlds theory, also known as the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. The contrary claim sees this picture of many worlds as in no sense inherent in quantum mechanics, even when the latter is allowed unrestricted scope and even given that the quantum state itself is something physically real. For this picture of branching worlds fails to make physical sense, let alone common sense, even on its own terms. The status of these worlds, what they are made of, is never adequately explained. Ordinary ideas about time and identity over time become hopelessly compromised. The concept of probability itself is brought into question. This picture of many branching worlds is inchoate, it is a vision, an error. There are realist alternatives to many worlds, some even that preserve the Schrödinger equation unchanged. Twenty specially written essays, accompanied by commentaries and discussions, examine these claims and counterclaims in depth. They focus first on the question of ontology, the existence of worlds (Part 1 and 2), second on the interpretation of probability (Parts 3 and 4), and third on alternatives or additions to many worlds (Parts 5 and 6). The introduction offers a helpful guide to the arguments for the Everett interpretation, particularly as they have been formulated in the last two decades.

Things the Grandchildren Should Know

Author: Mark Oliver Everett
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780312429171
Release Date: 2009-09-29
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

An acclaimed indie rocker from the Eels discusses his turbulent upbringing outside of the sphere of his absent acclaimed physicist father, the tragic losses of his family members, and his efforts to forge a career in the alternative music scene. 75,000 first printing.

Anthropic Bias

Author: Nick Bostrom
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781136710995
Release Date: 2013-10-11
Genre: Philosophy

Anthropic Bias explores how to reason when you suspect that your evidence is biased by "observation selection effects"--that is, evidence that has been filtered by the precondition that there be some suitably positioned observer to "have" the evidence. This conundrum--sometimes alluded to as "the anthropic principle," "self-locating belief," or "indexical information"--turns out to be a surprisingly perplexing and intellectually stimulating challenge, one abounding with important implications for many areas in science and philosophy. There are the philosophical thought experiments and paradoxes: the Doomsday Argument; Sleeping Beauty; the Presumptuous Philosopher; Adam & Eve; the Absent-Minded Driver; the Shooting Room. And there are the applications in contemporary science: cosmology ("How many universes are there?", "Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life?"); evolutionary theory ("How improbable was the evolution of intelligent life on our planet?"); the problem of time's arrow ("Can it be given a thermodynamic explanation?"); quantum physics ("How can the many-worlds theory be tested?"); game-theory problems with imperfect recall ("How to model them?"); even traffic analysis ("Why is the 'next lane' faster?"). Anthropic Bias argues that the same principles are at work across all these domains. And it offers a synthesis: a mathematically explicit theory of observation selection effects that attempts to meet scientific needs while steering clear of philosophical paradox.

The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Author: Jeffrey A. Barrett
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400842742
Release Date: 2012-05-20
Genre: Science

Hugh Everett III was an American physicist best known for his many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which formed the basis of his PhD thesis at Princeton University in 1957. Although counterintuitive, Everett's revolutionary formulation of quantum mechanics offers the most direct solution to the infamous quantum measurement problem--that is, how and why the singular world of our experience emerges from the multiplicities of alternatives available in the quantum world. The many-worlds interpretation postulates the existence of multiple universes. Whenever a measurement-like interaction occurs, the universe branches into relative states, one for each possible outcome of the measurement, and the world in which we find ourselves is but one of these many, but equally real, possibilities. Everett's challenge to the orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics was met with scorn from Niels Bohr and other leading physicists, and Everett subsequently abandoned academia to conduct military operations research. Today, however, Everett's formulation of quantum mechanics is widely recognized as one of the most controversial but promising physical theories of the last century. In this book, Jeffrey Barrett and Peter Byrne present the long and short versions of Everett's thesis along with a collection of his explanatory writings and correspondence. These primary source documents, many of them newly discovered and most unpublished until now, reveal how Everett's thinking evolved from his days as a graduate student to his untimely death in 1982. This definitive volume also features Barrett and Byrne's introductory essays, notes, and commentary that put Everett's extraordinary theory into historical and scientific perspective and discuss the puzzles that still remain.

The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Author: Bryce Seligman Dewitt
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400868056
Release Date: 2015-03-08
Genre: Science

A novel interpretation of quantum mechanics, first proposed in brief form by Hugh Everett in 1957, forms the nucleus around which this book has developed. In his interpretation, Dr. Everett denies the existence of a separate classical realm and asserts the propriety of considering a state vector for the whole universe. Because this state vector never collapses, reality as a whole is rigorously deterministic. This reality, which is described jointly by the dynamical variables and the state vector, is not the reality customarily perceived; rather, it is a reality composed of many worlds. By virtue of the temporal development of the dynamical variables, the state vector decomposes naturally into orthogonal vectors, reflecting a continual splitting of the universe into a multitude of mutually unobservable but equally real worlds, in each of which every good measurement has yielded a definite result, and in most of which the familiar statistical quantum laws hold. The volume contains Dr. Everett's short paper from 1957, "'Relative State' Formulation of Quantum Mechanics," and a far longer exposition of his interpretation, entitled "The Theory of the Universal Wave Function," never before published. In addition, other papers by Wheeler, DeWitt, Graham, and Cooper and Van Vechten provide further discussion of the same theme. Together, they constitute virtually the entire world output of scholarly commentary on the Everett interpretation. Originally published in 1973. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Decoding Reality

Author: Vlatko Vedral
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198815433
Release Date: 2018-02-08
Genre: Computers

For a physicist, all the world is information. The Universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information. We are all transient patterns of information, passing on the recipe for our basic forms to future generations using a four-letter digital code called DNA. In this engaging and mind-stretching account, Vlatko Vedral considers some of the deepest questions about the Universe and considers the implications of interpreting it in terms of information. He explains the nature of information, the idea of entropy, and the roots of this thinking in thermodynamics. He describes the bizarre effects of quantum behaviour -- effects such as 'entanglement', which Einstein called 'spooky action at a distance', and explores cutting edge work on harnessing quantum effects in hyperfast quantum computers, and how recent evidence suggests that the weirdness of the quantum world, once thought limited to the tiniest scales, may reach into the macro world. Vedral finishes by considering the answer to the ultimate question: where did all of the information in the Universe come from? The answers he considers are exhilarating, drawing upon the work of distinguished physicist John Wheeler. The ideas challenge our concept of the nature of particles, of time, of determinism, and of reality itself. This edition includes a new foreword from the author, reflecting on changes in the world of quantum information since first publication. Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.

Turing s Cathedral

Author: George Dyson
Publisher: Pantheon
ISBN: 9780375422775
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Science

Documents the innovations of a group of eccentric geniuses who developed computer code in the mid-20th century as part of mathematician Alan Turin's theoretical universal machine idea, exploring how their ideas led to such developments as digital television, modern genetics and the hydrogen bomb.

Worlds Without End

Author: Mary-Jane Rubenstein
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231156622
Release Date: 2014-02-11
Genre: Philosophy

“Multiverse” cosmologies imagine our universe as just one of a vast number of others. While this idea has captivated philosophy, religion, and literature for millennia, it is now being considered as a scientific hypothesis—with different models emerging from cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory. Beginning with ancient Atomist and Stoic philosophies, Mary-Jane Rubenstein links contemporary models of the multiverse to their forerunners and explores their current emergence. One reason is the so-called fine-tuning of the universe: nature’s constants are so delicately calibrated, it seems they have been set just right to allow life to emerge. For some theologians, these “fine-tunings” are proof of God; for others, “God” is an insufficient explanation. One compelling solution: if all possible worlds exist somewhere, then it is no surprise one of them happens to be suitable for life. Yet this hypothesis replaces God with an equally baffling article of faith: the existence of universes beyond, before, or after our own, eternally generated yet forever inaccessible. In sidestepping metaphysics, multiverse scenarios collide with it, producing their own counter-theological narratives. Rubenstein argues, however, that this interdisciplinary collision provides the condition of its scientific viability, reconfiguring the boundaries among physics, philosophy, and religion.

The Emergent Multiverse

Author: David Wallace
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780191057397
Release Date: 2012-05-24
Genre: Science

The Emergent Multiverse presents a striking new account of the 'many worlds' approach to quantum theory. The point of science, it is generally accepted, is to tell us how the world works and what it is like. But quantum theory seems to fail to do this: taken literally as a theory of the world, it seems to make crazy claims: particles are in two places at once; cats are alive and dead at the same time. So physicists and philosophers have often been led either to give up on the idea that quantum theory describes reality, or to modify or augment the theory. The Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics takes the apparent craziness seriously, and asks, 'what would it be like if particles really were in two places at once, if cats really were alive and dead at the same time'? The answer, it turns out, is that if the world were like that—if it were as quantum theory claims—it would be a world that, at the macroscopic level, was constantly branching into copies—hence the more sensationalist name for the Everett interpretation, the 'many worlds theory'. But really, the interpretation is not sensationalist at all: it simply takes quantum theory seriously, literally, as a description of the world. Once dismissed as absurd, it is now accepted by many physicists as the best way to make coherent sense of quantum theory. David Wallace offers a clear and up-to-date survey of work on the Everett interpretation in physics and in philosophy of science, and at the same time provides a self-contained and thoroughly modern account of it—an account which is accessible to readers who have previously studied quantum theory at undergraduate level, and which will shape the future direction of research by leading experts in the field.

A Well Ordered Thing

Author: Michael D. Gordin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691184425
Release Date: 2018-12-11
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834–1907) is a name we recognize, but perhaps only as the creator of the periodic table of elements. Generally, little else has been known about him. A Well-Ordered Thing is an authoritative biography of Mendeleev that draws a multifaceted portrait of his life for the first time. As Michael Gordin reveals, Mendeleev was not only a luminary in the history of science, he was also an astonishingly wide-ranging political and cultural figure. From his attack on Spiritualism to his failed voyage to the Arctic and his near-mythical hot-air balloon trip, this is the story of an extraordinary maverick. The ideals that shaped his work outside science also led Mendeleev to order the elements and, eventually, to engineer one of the most fascinating scientific developments of the nineteenth century. A Well-Ordered Thing is a classic work that tells the story of one of the world’s most important minds.

Brilliant Blunders

Author: Mario Livio
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781439192375
Release Date: 2014-05-27
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

We all make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. And that includes five of the greatest scientists in history -- Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, Albert Einstein. But the mistakes that these great scientists made helped science to advance. Indeed, as Mario Livio explains in this fascinating book, science thrives on error; it advances when erroneous ideas are disproven. All five scientists were great geniuses and fascinating human beings. Their blunders were part of their genius and part of the scientific process. Livio brilliantly analyses their errors to show where they were wrong and right, but what makes his book so enjoyable to read is Livio's analysis of the psychology of these towering figures. Along the way the reader learns an enormous amount about the evolution of life on earth and in the universe, but from an unusual vantage point -- the mistakes of great scientists rather than the achievements that made them famous.

Programming the Universe

Author: Seth Lloyd
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307264718
Release Date: 2006-03-14
Genre: Science

Is the universe actually a giant quantum computer? According to Seth Lloyd, the answer is yes. All interactions between particles in the universe, Lloyd explains, convey not only energy but also information–in other words, particles not only collide, they compute. What is the entire universe computing, ultimately? “Its own dynamical evolution,” he says. “As the computation proceeds, reality unfolds.” Programming the Universe, a wonderfully accessible book, presents an original and compelling vision of reality, revealing our world in an entirely new light. From the Trade Paperback edition.