General Technology

The Many Worlds of Sean Carroll: A review of Something Deeply Hidden

September 2, 2020

Go to any conference on Quantum and take a straw poll about which interpretation of Quantum Mechanics the audience prefers and you’ll likely find the Many Worlds interpretation beats out many of the even well accepted conventions such as the Copenhagen interpretation, or even Bohmian Mechanics or QBism. We review the latest book from Sean Carroll exploring the nature of our Quantum reality and excitingly explores Many Worlds.

Quantum Mechanics and Many Worlds

Aside from Quantum Computing, it is fascinating to understand how the mechanics of the universe works. Quantum researchers have often traditionally just “shut up and calculate” because the actual interpretation of the Quantum world is so difficult. Does the wave function just collapse? What is the wave function and should it simply collapse like magic when we look at the system (or some kind interaction occurs)?

In Sean Carrol’s latest work he takes the reader through the basis for why the current interpretation is extremely unsatisfying for plenty of eminent researchers, who believe that the traditional Copenhagen interpretation is just plain wrong.

Wave-functions are not magic, and entanglement occurs between observers and the system under measurement. However in most text books, this is omitted and wave-function of the observer is never considered. The book outlines how Quantum Mechanics, despite giving the correct answers might have been hijacked in such as way as to make the interpretation of the results more palatable – i.e. not invoking Many Worlds.

A single wave-function to govern all

What Sean is really getting at, is there is a single wave-function that governs the entire universe, and when that wave-function de-coheres, something happens, a branching occurs which leads to different-branches or different worlds emerging. Each one of the worlds is independent and cannot interact with the others, but decidedly exists. For many this is an implausible science fiction like scenario but when you look at the science Sean outlines that there is a single wave-function that governs everything including that alternate words. The theory is even more simple and elegant and invokes no “cheating”. The Occam razor of the Quantum Mechanical world.

In something deeply hidden, Sean expertly outlines the basic problems with the conventional quantum approach, the fundamental science, qubits, spin and some of the ground breaking experiments in Quantum science in a way which is a delight for those with or without any knowledge of Quantum physics. Sean has a way of making difficult concepts seem effortless to comprehend, interesting, and the prose beckons you into reading more. Writing good science is difficult, but you’d never guess from this work.

The thoughtful illustrations and just the right amount of math (basically nil for the math phobic) make this a definitive recommended book for anyone interested in the quantum space. The prerequisite knowledge is essentially zero.

You’ll get introduced the quantum luminaries such as: David Deutsch, David Bohm, Niels Bohr, Hugh Everett and a few more. What I love about this work is the contextual information, understanding the landscape into which these theories emerge in additional to understanding something of the people behind them.

The Many Worlds of Sean Carrol: A review of Something Deeply Hidden

A work like this, takes a lot of effort, effort on the part of the author to ensure that the reader can understand. As you’d expect Sean Carroll is no layman physicist, he is faculty at Caltech, being research professor in the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics in the California Institute of Technology Department of Physics.

Rarely do I read works that could be valuable to so many, in so many fields. Even for active Quantum researchers with the mantra “Shut up and calculate”, the introduction to what lies behind the curtain has to be interesting. I wish when I was an undergraduate all those years ago that I could have read a book that covers such a complex controversial topic in an elegant way.

It’s true, I agree with Sean, not enough time and energy is given to what Quantum Mechanics actually means. Read the book, if you haven’t heard of Many Worlds, prepare to be amazed. If you have [heard of Many Worlds], expect to come away with enough understanding for some interesting dinner conversations.

I’m going to be buying more copies to give as presents as Sean manages to convey a good foundation for quantum science and the mechanisms behind the universe. I just know too many people who will be interested. He manages to make a difficult subject a truly riveting read.