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Something Deeply Hidden

Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime
Written by: Sean Carroll
Narrated by: Sean Carroll
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: Science & Math, Physics
4.5 out of 5 stars (35 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times best seller

One of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Books of the Fall

As you listen to these words, copies of you are being created. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and one of this world’s most celebrated writers on science, rewrites the history of 20th-century physics. Already hailed as a masterpiece, Something Deeply Hidden shows for the first time that facing up to the essential puzzle of quantum mechanics utterly transforms how we think about space and time. His reconciling of quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity changes, well, everything. Most physicists haven’t even recognized the uncomfortable truth: Physics has been in crisis since 1927.

Quantum mechanics has always had obvious gaps - which have come to be simply ignored. Science popularizers keep telling us how weird it is, how impossible it is to understand. Academics discourage students from working on the "dead end" of quantum foundations. Putting his professional reputation on the line with this audacious yet entirely reasonable audiobook, Carroll says that the crisis can now come to an end. We just have to accept that there is more than one of us in the universe. There are many, many Sean Carrolls. Many of every one of us.

Copies of you are generated thousands of times per second. The Many Worlds Theory of quantum behavior says that every time there is a quantum event, a world splits off with everything in it the same, except in that other world, the quantum event didn't happen. Step-by-step in Carroll's uniquely lucid way, he tackles the major objections to this otherworldly revelation until his case is inescapably established.

Rarely does a book so fully reorganize how we think about our place in the universe. We are on the threshold of a new understanding - of where we are in the cosmos, and what we are made of.

©2019 Sean Carroll (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"What makes Carroll's new project so worthwhile, though, is that while he is most certainly choosing sides in the debate, he offers us a cogent, clear and compelling guide to the subject while letting his passion for the scientific questions shine through every page." (NPR)

"Enlightening and refreshingly bold." (Scientific American)

"Something Deeply Hidden is Carroll’s ambitious and engaging foray into what quantum mechanics really means and what it tells us about physical reality." (Science Magazine)

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In another world, this review is much better.

Quantum Physics felt very woo woo up until somewhat recently. I started paying a bit more attention to quantum physics when I saw in the news that hardware engineers & scientists are no longer able to make computer chips smaller because of something called quantum entanglement.

Quantum entanglement is one of the rare observable phenomenon that impacts business & technology that we use daily, it’s where electrons just spontaneously move around.

Then you hear about google’s quantum computing breakthroughs...so it’s fashionable to read books like this to keep up with everything Quantum.

This book is not about quantum computing, it’s more about the philosophy & science behind the paradigm shift that is going from thinking in classical physics to thinking in quantum physics.

Before this, it was a lot of “law of attraction” and “vibrate the same energy as what you want” - some of that which I believed, but it felt embarrassing to talk about.

Now with books like Something Deeply Hidden, you can learn about quantum physics as a regular person and not have to bring the law of attraction into it!

The criticism I will give the book is that it’s very dense...it gets extremely boring in the middle and the last part.

The book should have only been half the length, and according to what I’ve learned in the book, in another universe it was only half the length!

I would say this is very dense material, you’re going to be re-reading sentences a lot.

The first bit of the book is really good, then in the middle there’s a chapter which is a mock conversation between a daughter and her father...the daughter is a quantum physicist and the father is a classical physicist. It’s a really good chapter.

I don’t think this book is for everyone, unless you are REALLY interested in quantum physics. In fact I think you can just listen to the author Sean Carrol on the Joe Rogan Podcast and get the info that way.

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  • Conrad Barski
  • 2019-09-11

The Best Layperson Book on Quantum Physics

The only bad thing about this book is the title- It should really just be called "Understanding Quantum Physics". I have read several books on the subject before and have always been disappointed by the confused explanations found in popular books on this subject. This book is categorically better than any previous book I've encountered.

The first three chapters are key: Chapter 1 explains why this stuff is so damn confusing and why the usual explanations are so unsatisfying. Chapter 2 then describes the bare-metal math of quantum physics (the Schrödinger equation) and explains the ramifications of this formula when all other complexities are stripped away, so you can really understand "what's going on". Chapter 3 then recontextualizes the history of quantum theory, all the personalities and experiments of the 20th Century, in light of the Schrödinger equation. This ordering is so smart, because this theory was conceived through a series of haphazard scientific discoveries that really need to be discussed separately from the theory itself, and Dr. Carroll's book does this brilliantly.

After these initial sections, the book dives into more cutting-edge, speculative ideas, which are also a great read- But in my opinion, the early sections of this book are the main attraction & are a great read for anyone interested in science.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 2019-09-13

For Sale: Many Worlds, Gently Used

Dr Carroll is our generation’s preeminent physics explainer. He does not disappoint in this latest book. In particular, his vector analogy of the wave function - wherein measurements we can make (position, velocity, etc.) are as vector components of the sum total of reality at any given moment - is very satisfying. Sean pulls off similar magic in elucidating “random” radioactive decay as our measured view of what is really a *deterministic* evolution of superposed un-decayed plus decayed wave function states. Ironically, there is a lot of poetry in what Dr Carroll refers to as austere quantum mechanics, or AQM.

AQM is Dr Carroll’s quick re-branding of Many Worlds. None of this re-branding or wonderful explanation, however, has me convinced of the Many Worlds interpretation. This is because I believe there is a better explanation. Dr Carroll does compare Many Worlds to other theories here, and I do agree Many Worlds is indeed superior to the other theories presented in this book. But he does not consider theories for which the wave function is neither ontologically real, *nor* epistemic, which are nevertheless complete in themselves. In particular, Relational Quantum Mechanics (RQM) asks us to consider quantum interactions (measurements) as real, such that the wave function is relegated to a “theoretical account of the way distinct physical systems affect one another when they interact (and not of the way physical systems ‘are’)” [Laudisa, Federico and Rovelli, Carlo, "Relational Quantum Mechanics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy].

In the end, walking away from this book without the Many Worlds is ok. Dr Carroll was never really selling them anyway. He only ever wanted us to take this journey with him, and take it seriously. And that I would do many, many times over.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-19

An honest and humble look at fundamental physics

Couldn't stop listening when I started. The most honest description of physics I've heard In a while. Also really nice to atlast get a physics book on something new and not just rehashing the same old stories

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • William Whitt
  • 2019-10-17

Much like the quantum foam, I am abuzz

I love that this was narrated by Sean Carroll himself as it ensures that you get his desired emphasis and intonations with every sentence.

Whether you have no existing quantum mechanics knowledge, support the Copenhagen interpretation, or perhaps one of the other approaches like Loop Quantum Gravity, you'll find that this book provides you with lots of good brain food to chew on. Honestly I have already listened to some chapters more than four times just to really ponder some of the points he makes and I'll likely listen to it in its entirety at least three times - so definitely money well spent for me.

Professor Carroll is doing us all a favor here by (quite literally) speaking so elegantly on the foundations and meanings of quantum mechanics. For too long the status quo in quantum has been "shut up and calculate" and this book aims to change that. Every significant technology wave in human history has come from finding a deeper understanding or insight of (often times) mundane or known concepts (e.g. thinking deeper on the speed of light led to relativity). Quantum mechanics has already provided society with so much in terms of technology... for us to sit idly by and accept a partial understanding of the topic while allowing those entrenched in the field to push the "shut up and calculate" mentality is really kneecapping progress.

Get started on your next book Sean!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Michael A. Hewson
  • Victoria, Australia
  • 2019-09-25

Boggle

Mr Carroll has left no stone unturned in his analysis of the 'difficult' roots of quantum mechanics. His smooth style carries you along his lucid stream of explanation. I am on my third listening. His dissertation on the structure of Hilbert spaces via the example of spins & q-bits is tremendous. As for the deeply hidden secret, well, this was known several generations ago. It's just that very few like the implication : the many worlds interpretation of measurement instances. I hadn't known that this a straightforward consequence of the simplest set of axioms. Entanglement now sounds so obvious, not forgetting especially the experimental work of Mr Aspect who verified the musings of Mr Bell. The universe really works that way. How amazing is that !

Oh, and did you know that the Earth orbiting around the Sun generates a mere 200 Watts of power in gravitational waves ? Or that a moving body may lose kinetic energy by emitting light, and by doing so it doesn't slow down but loses mass as per E/c^2 ! These are two of many lovely snippets scattered within the text.

One point of sociology within the physics community : those who prod and poke at these base areas of quantum mechanics are viewed with at least mild disdain. We are very lucky to have Mr Carroll on the job and reporting back to us from this 'mystical' frontier. For me he is right up there with Mr Feynman for quality of communication.

A soft warning though : you'd best have no distractions while listening, as it would be a shame to miss the finer points. A quiet, dark room would be ideal.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 2019-10-01

Good introduction to MultiWorld...but

This is largely a high level explanation and defense of Everett's Universal Wavefunction (aka Multiworlds). The first and primary argument is that since all other interpretations of QM involve the wave function, then a theory that postulates nothing more than the wave function better satisfies Occam's razor than any other, more complicated, theory. There are a number of subtle issues with this logic. Firstly, although the wave function is a part of all QM interpretations, it is generally regarded as a calculation tool, not an element of reality. The wave function is used in computing results but fundamentally can not be measured.

I, and others dubious of MW, agree that IF one accepts the WF as REAL, then MW is the obvious final result. Nevertheless there is no evidence the WF is actually real. Carroll refers to assuming MW from the reality of the WF as Austere QM.

I don't find this logic Austere at all. The WF is, itself, is not purely quantum. Indeed the WF is very non-quantum involving multiple continuums, including a complex continuum, along with countless degrees of freedom. This is hardly Austere as implied by Carroll's argument. Only very late in the book does Carroll admit the dark side of the WF, infinite degrees of freedom, unexpected infinities, and inherently classical underpinnings. MW does not really add anything useful to QM and seems to become a theory of anything.

Carroll spends a chapter demonstrating that MW is consistent with the statistics of the world we experience, but his arguments depend on limited branching - without ever explaining when, if ever, branching happens. Much later he admits that how and when and how much branching occurs is completely unknown. If branching is infinite (which it seems to be) Carroll's MW statistical arguments all become invalid.

Carroll examines a few other QM interpretations but does not include Smolin's Causal Sets (or other relational QM theories) which seems much more likely, actually IS Austere, is completely discrete, and is without classical underpinnings.

The last I checked, MW was the most popular interpretation of QM and its popularity was growing.
I was certainly was not convinced and found the author did not really present counter arguments to MW thoroughly or well.

The narration was excellent.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas H. Kregel
  • Minnesota
  • 2019-11-14

Very interesting

I didn't follow everything but I only have a BS in Physics. Each time I listen I understand more.

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  • Leonardo Diaz
  • 2019-10-16

Definitely a good explanation of the many worlds.

I definitely left with a much better understanding of the many-worlds interpretation, and I can see why it is so attractive to many Everettians, it's probably the most direct explanation of quantum superposition and entanglement, it just makes sense. But it's definitely a far-fetched idea that makes it a hard pill to swallow.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-12

Very good, but very mathematical.

If you're interested in Quantum Mechanics and how our reality is possible shaped, I don't recommend this as your starting point, as it is very high mathmatics at most parts. Instead I would refer you to "Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Moderni Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition by The Great Courses. It's more simplified and it's SO good. After that one come to this and still not ubderstand The math but have a general grasp of The terminology.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • H MILTON JOHNSON
  • 2019-10-06

Carroll presents a clear, precise description of the state of the foundations of quantum mechanics

This much more than a presentation of the many worlds theory. It is an honest, clear and detailed description of the present "working" model of quantum mechanics and how it does or does not explain the underlying reality. Yes Carroll explains why he prefers the Everettian Many Worlds Interpretation over the Copenhagen or other interpretations, but he does it honestly, completely explaining other interpretations that are plausible. He also gives clear definitions of many terms such as virtual particles, quantum fluctuations and Feinman Diagrams that allow the reader to clearly understand the issues he's addressing. Overall a job well done!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful