Includes bibliographical references (pages 301-355) and index.
Introduction -- Prologue : The impossible done -- Part I. A tranquilizing philosophy. The measure of all things -- Something rotten in the eigenstate of Denmark -- Street brawl -- Copenhagen in Manhattan -- Part II. Quantum dissidents. Physics in exile -- It came from another world! -- The most profound discovery of science -- More things in heaven and earth -- Part III. The great enterprise. Reality underground -- Quantum spring -- Copenhagen versus the universe -- Outrageous fortune -- Appendix. Four views of the strangest experiment.
"Quantum mechanics is humanity's finest scientific achievement. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. It's the theory behind the LEDs in your phone and the nuclear hearts of space probes. Every physicist agrees quantum physics is spectacularly successful. But ask them what quantum physics means, and the result will be a brawl. At stake is the nature of the Universe itself. What does it mean for something to be real? What is the role of consciousness in the Universe? And do quantum rules apply to very small objects like electrons and protons, but not us? In What is Real?, Adam Becker brings to vivid life the brave researchers whose quest for the truth led them to challenge Bohr: David Bohm, who picked up Einstein's mantle and sought to make quantum mechanics deterministic, all while being hounded by the forces of McCarthyism; Hugh Everett, who argued that everything, big and small, must be governed by the same rules; and John Bell, who went to great lengths to eradicate the power of the god-like observer from the core of quantum physics. And they paid dearly, their reputations, careers, and sometimes lives ruined completely. But history has been kinder to them than their contemporaries were. As Becker shows, the brave intellectual giants have inspired a growing army of physicists and philosophers intent both on making a philosophically more satisfying theory of the universe and a more useful one as well. A gripping story of some of humanity's greatest ideas and the high cost with which many have pursued them, What is Real? is intellectual history at its passionate best"-- Provided by publisher. Quantum mechanics explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see; it's the theory behind the LEDs in your phone and the nuclear hearts of space probes. But ask a physicist what quantum physics means, and the result will be a brawl. What does it mean for something to be real? Becker brings to vivid life the brave researchers whose quest for the truth led them to challenge Bohr-- and paid dearly, their reputations, careers, and sometimes lives ruined completely. A gripping story of the high cost of pursuit of scientific truth.