The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: Collected Works 1955-1980 with Commentary

Princeton University Press
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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 These primary source documents, many of them newly discovered and most unpublished until now, reveal how Everett's thinking evolved from his days as a graduate student to his untimely death in 1982.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.

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About the author

Jeffrey A. Barrett is professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine. Peter Byrne is an award-winning investigative reporter and science writer.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 20, 2012
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Pages
392
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ISBN
9781400842742
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Science / Physics / Quantum Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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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.
A new edition of the New York Times bestseller—now a three-part Nova special: a fascinating and thought-provoking journey through the mysteries of space, time, and matter. Now with a new preface (not in any other edition) that will review the enormous public reception of the relatively obscure string theory—made possible by this book and an increased number of adherents amongst physicists—The Elegant Universe "sets a standard that will be hard to beat" (New York Times Book Review). Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy.

Today physicists and mathematicians throughout the world are feverishly working on one of the most ambitious theories ever proposed: superstring theory. String theory, as it is often called, is the key to the Unified Field Theory that eluded Einstein for more than thirty years. Finally, the century-old antagonism between the large and the small-General Relativity and Quantum Theory-is resolved. String theory proclaims that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe, from the frantic dancing of subatomic quarks to the majestic swirling of heavenly galaxies, are reflections of one grand physical principle and manifestations of one single entity: microscopically tiny vibrating loops of energy, a billionth of a billionth the size of an atom. In this brilliantly articulated and refreshingly clear book, Greene relates the scientific story and the human struggle behind twentieth-century physics' search for a theory of everything.

Through the masterful use of metaphor and analogy, The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated viscerally accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.
The Companion Encyclopedia of Theology provides a comprehensive guide to modern theological thought. An international team of theologians and practitioners of both the Christian and Jewish faiths investigate and consider aspects of theology in 48 self-contained articles. Neither partisan and denominational, nor detached and abstract, this Companion explores the resources and applications of theology in the light of Christianity's place in the modern world.
The Structure
The Companion Encyclopedia of Theology is divided into six parts. The first three deal with major foundational aspects of Western theological reflection:
* the Hebrew and Christian Bible
* the Tradition
* the contribution of Philosophy
The second half of the Companion is concerned with application:
* in relation to Spirituality
* in relation to contemporary Ethics
* in relation to issues in and aspects of present-day theological construction
The 48 essays are descriptive, informative and analytical; their wide-ranging content is bound into a unified perspective by the editors' general introduction and the introductions to each of the six parts. At the end of each article, there are suggestions for further reading and the work is concluded with a comprehensive index.
This Companion Encyclopedia is a valuable source of reference for students, teachers and both lay and clerical practitioners of Christian and Jewish theology.
Key Features
* Broad Coverage - contains 48 in-depth essays covering both the history and application of Western theological thought
* International Authorship - written in non-technical language by a distinguished team of editors and authors from both Christian and Jewish faiths
* Balanced Approach - discusses and analyses the key issues without imposing any single viewpoint
* Clearly Presented - at the end of each article, there are suggestions for further reading and the work contains a comprehensive index

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