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A penetrating exploration of the new physics, including time travel, quantum computers, and the multiverse – as referenced in the film “Avengers: Endgame”

For David Deutsch, a young physicist of unusual originality, quantum theory contains our most fundamental knowledge of the physical world. Taken literally, it implies that there are many universes “parallel” to the one we see around us. This multiplicity of universes, according to Deutsch, turns out to be the key to achieving a new worldview, one which synthesizes the theories of evolution, computation, and knowledge with quantum physics. Considered jointly, these four strands of explanation reveal a unified fabric of reality that is both objective and comprehensible, the subject of this daring, challenging book.

The Fabric of Reality explains and connects many topics at the leading edge of current research and thinking, such as quantum computers (which work by effectively collaborating with their counterparts in other universes), the physics of time travel, the comprehensibility of nature and the physical limits of virtual reality, the significance of human life, and the ultimate fate of the universe. Here, for scientist and layperson alike, for philosopher, science-fiction reader, biologist, and computer expert, is a startlingly complete and rational synthesis of disciplines, and a new, optimistic message about existence.

About the Author

David Deutsch, internationally acclaimed for his seminal publications on quantum computation, is a member of the Quantum Computation and Cryptography Research Group at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University.

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
363 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Louis Loria
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dismissive of David Bohm''s ideas as Pseudo science but Many Worlds?
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2020
It was hard to get through as it reminded me of Dianetics in that the entire case is made assuming that the only possible explanation for the quantum interference must be because particles from an infinite amount of other worlds are interfering with particles in this world.... See more
It was hard to get through as it reminded me of Dianetics in that the entire case is made assuming that the only possible explanation for the quantum interference must be because particles from an infinite amount of other worlds are interfering with particles in this world. What? Then he tries to explain how other theories seemed absurd at the time to try to show that this idea while on the surface may seem crazy could very well be plausible because the typical reaction to new ideas is to discredit them as implausible. If he showed a bit more humility in his argument it might have been an easier read. As it stands I don''t see much difference between this book and religion. If you believe in the many worlds theory already then maybe you will like the book. I was open to the idea but not the way it was presented.
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JAD
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The BEST book on Parallel Universes!!!
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2017
This is the best non-fiction book I have ever read. Deutsch has an amazing ability to articulate the most sophisticated high level physics in profoundly clear terms for non-physicists. He marches through each explanation, leaving no question unanswered, clearly painting... See more
This is the best non-fiction book I have ever read. Deutsch has an amazing ability to articulate the most sophisticated high level physics in profoundly clear terms for non-physicists. He marches through each explanation, leaving no question unanswered, clearly painting word pictures that make every nuance of his ideas in quantum physics as clear and beautiful as a DaVinci painting. This is the BEST book on the subject of parallel universes and time travel available to non-physicists (and I have read them all, including F. A. Wolfe, Michio Kaku, etc). If you would like to read a Science Fiction novel on time travel that matches his theory of Parallel Universes and Time Travel, check out the following book, also available at Amazon.com The Hiroshima Agenda: "Does the NSA have a working time machine?"
18 people found this helpful
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Omri
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A physicist that explains...
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2019
...instead of relying on the reductionist creed “it doesn’t matter why - the predictions agree with experiment, and that should be enough”. That’s what my quantum physics professor said when I pushed on interpreting the results of the double slit experiment.... See more
...instead of relying on the reductionist creed “it doesn’t matter why - the predictions agree with experiment, and that should be enough”.

That’s what my quantum physics professor said when I pushed on interpreting the results of the double slit experiment.

My disappointment with that answer led me to abandon physics.

Had Deutsch been my professor, I would have stayed in it.

Back to the book: I found the sections on epistemology and quantum computation to be less elucidating than the stunningly simple logic that he uses to justify the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics, but it’s all fascinating.

The connections between seemingly disparate domains (QM, theory of computation, genetics, and epistemology) are novel and reminiscent of Godel, Escher, Bach.

Chapter 2 is a must-read and the rest of the book is highly worthwhile for the patient reader.
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Alessandro Piovaccari
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A fundamental pillar of knowledge
Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2020
This book is utilizes both physics and philosophy point of views to make sense of the fabric of reality, exploring many if-then scenarios, sometimes falling at the edge of sci-fi. Even in the parts I do not agree, I found the depth of explanation excellent. The biggest... See more
This book is utilizes both physics and philosophy point of views to make sense of the fabric of reality, exploring many if-then scenarios, sometimes falling at the edge of sci-fi. Even in the parts I do not agree, I found the depth of explanation excellent. The biggest merit is certainly to bring in concepts like computability and knowledge into the picture as key elements to define reality itself. This book it is now in my top reading list.
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Kenn Brody
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This will change your perception of the nature of reality.
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2015
Professor Deutsch gives us a update on the nature of physical reality from three aspects - the nature of understanding in science, the reality of the multiverse, and the limits of virtual reality as a true test of reality. Any one of these is likely to be a revelation to... See more
Professor Deutsch gives us a update on the nature of physical reality from three aspects - the nature of understanding in science, the reality of the multiverse, and the limits of virtual reality as a true test of reality. Any one of these is likely to be a revelation to the reader, and even a former physicist like myself cannot read this without a perceptual shift.

You will not have to do higher math. You will have to think. This is NOT a review of current science, it''s a phase transition in the understanding of the nature of reality.
10 people found this helpful
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Nelson B.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very good book, read full review for my nitpicks.
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2017
Overall 5 stars, extremely interesting and good read. I also find the main thesis fairly convincing but that doesn''t figure into the rating much in this case, for me. There are a few points that I feel were not material to the main point of the book and which were also... See more
Overall 5 stars, extremely interesting and good read. I also find the main thesis fairly convincing but that doesn''t figure into the rating much in this case, for me. There are a few points that I feel were not material to the main point of the book and which were also poorly argued, and if I were editing the book I''d simply remove them-- Deutsch''s seeming insistence on some kind of libertarian free will (I think he even says explicitly "you could have done otherwise") as a consequence of Many Worlds, a somewhat frantic argument at the end of the book where he attacks a strawman of evolutionary psychology trying to make a genealogical case against moral realism, and the chapter on time travel.
6 people found this helpful
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Rick Rock
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Unique Take On Many Worlds
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2021
David Deutsch has an interesting approach to "many worlds" in QM-- he finds validation in the results of the famous double slit experiment, interpreted as "proximate" alternate paths affecting experimental results. This is a good introduction to constructor theory and... See more
David Deutsch has an interesting approach to "many worlds" in QM-- he finds validation in the results of the famous double slit experiment, interpreted as "proximate" alternate paths affecting experimental results. This is a good introduction to constructor theory and quantum computing. David Deutsch was a pioneer in quantum computing. His constructor theory deserves much more attention than it has received. I don''t think it is very well understood by most physicists, unfortunately.
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Atheen
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not the best place to start on any of the topics included
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2002
Until I got well over half way through the book, I found Deutsch''s The Fabric of Reality difficult to put together. It took completing the book and then rereading points I had highlighted throughout the text to make sense of it at all. While I found some of the information... See more
Until I got well over half way through the book, I found Deutsch''s The Fabric of Reality difficult to put together. It took completing the book and then rereading points I had highlighted throughout the text to make sense of it at all. While I found some of the information helpful and instructive and some of it intriguing, I''m not altogether sure I would recommend it as a way of finding out about the "Four Strands" of which Dr. Deutsch composes his ultimate reality. Reading some of the works he includes in his bibliography might be a more helpful starting point for the average person interested in the subject. Among these are The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, also by Dawkins, Popper''s Conjectures and Refutations and The Myth of the Framework and Weinberg''s The First Three Minutes.
Although I agree with the author, and with E. O. Wilson (Consiliance), that a certain synthesis among the various branches of human knowledge are a necessary prerequisite for advancing much beyond what the 20ieth century has accomplished, I''m not certain that I''m yet prepared for or convinced of the need for a multiverse explanation of reality.
The author makes some very important points about science which bear repeating for those who have not yet heard them. For instance, "A scientific argument is intended to persuade us that a given explanation is the best one available. It does not and could not say anything about how that explanation will fare when, in the future, it is subjected to new types of criticism and compared with explanations that have yet to be invented (p. 64)." This is a fundamental principle of the scientific process that escapes many lay individuals and even some scientists.
He also notes that scientific theories must do more than simply predict the future, since "Shoddy explanations that yield correct predictions are two a penny, as UFO enthusiasts, conspiracy-theorists and pseudo-scientists of every variety should (but never do) bear in mind (p. 65)."
More importantly still in describing scientific methodology the author writes, "Here I must mention an asymmetry which is important in the philosophy and methodology of science: the asymmetry between experimental refutation and experimental confirmation. Whereas an incorrect prediction automatically renders the underlying explanation unsatisfactory, a correct prediction says nothing at all about the underlying explanation (p.65)." This too is often forgotten or misunderstood by those who do not do research of this kind.
In general the book tries to cover too much in too small a space. Unless the reader is very well read, he/she would be better off starting somewhere else before tackling this book.
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Top reviews from other countries

Jtmc
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I really enjoyed the book though Deutsch can at times not make ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 30, 2018
I really enjoyed the book though Deutsch can at times not make the reading easy. It you can get past his style and focus on the content it is very enlightening. His theories help and challenge your thinking. If you do not agree with his theories then at least you can take...See more
I really enjoyed the book though Deutsch can at times not make the reading easy. It you can get past his style and focus on the content it is very enlightening. His theories help and challenge your thinking. If you do not agree with his theories then at least you can take on board the facts he presents. It will challenge you and you might have reread a few sections to stay with him.
4 people found this helpful
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Geoff Sharman
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A rather different popular science book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2013
This book was written as a popular science book to be compared with, and perhaps inspired by, well known favourites such as "The Emperor''s new Mind", "The Selfish Gene" and "Godel, Escher, Bach" and, given that it was published in 1997, I was...See more
This book was written as a popular science book to be compared with, and perhaps inspired by, well known favourites such as "The Emperor''s new Mind", "The Selfish Gene" and "Godel, Escher, Bach" and, given that it was published in 1997, I was surprised I hadn''t come across it before. The author, David Deutsch, is well known for his influential papers on Quantum Computation. Here, he tackles a very broad canvas which includes quantum mechanics, quantum computation, virtual reality, time travel, the foundations of mathematics, the emergence of life and the theory of evolution. Deutsch takes issue with reductionist views of science and proposes that a "Theory of Everything" must encompass all these aspects of science, as expressed in four major strands: quantum physics, epistemology (the theory of knowledge proposed by Karl popper), computation and evolution. His central tenets are the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics (in which everything that can ever happen does, in many parallel universes) and the the idea that the world is self-similar at many different scales, so that explanations that work at one scale also work at another. It''s a deep and powerful book with much to like: I especially enjoyed Deutsch''s demolition of the standard theory of scientific induction and of the Platonic view of mathematics (that it "just exists" in a kind of perfection which is independent of the physical world). He shows that mathematics and computation only work because they are physical processes which ultimately depend on properties of the real world. He develops this approach into the "Turing principle" (it is possible to build a virtual reality generator whose repertoire includes every possible physical environment) and a clear explanation of quantum computation as a process underpinning the evolution of the physical world. Deutsch also advances a strong argument that the mathematics of physical theories should be taken literally: even apparently "unphysical" solutions to equations often have physical interpretations and these should be taken seriously even when they are counter-intuitive. The book closes with a chapter on "The Ends of the Universe" which has a somewhat dated feel because it''s based on the "Big Crunch" view of the eventual future of the universe. The current view is that expansion of the universe is actually accelerating and the Big Crunch is highly unlikely; as a consequence, the discussion in this chapter is unconvincing. Overall, the book explains and clarifies many important areas of science but readers must judge for themselves whether they accept claims based on the "many worlds" interpretation.
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Paul P. Mealing
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A radical thesis guaranteed to stimulate the intellect
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 19, 2012
Most people believe that a good philosopher is someone who agrees with them, but a good philosopher is someone who makes you think, which probably means they present a point of view you have not previously considered. Such is the case with David Deutsch. In The Fabric of...See more
Most people believe that a good philosopher is someone who agrees with them, but a good philosopher is someone who makes you think, which probably means they present a point of view you have not previously considered. Such is the case with David Deutsch. In The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch presents his `4 strands'' of reality: quantum mechanics, epistemology (theory of knowledge), evolution and computation. In expanding on these themes, he explores topics such as virtual reality, Turing''s principle, Godel''s Incompleteness Theorem, quantum computers, DNA, the nature of time and even time travel. Deutsch has developed an entire world view on the premise that `reality'' is not the `classical'' physics of Einstein''s `spacetime'', but a quantum mechanical multiverse. Using the multiverse as the explanatory tool for everything from computation to time, Deutsch claims that our commonsensical view of the world is effectively an illusion. Whether you agree with him or not after reading his book, it''s guaranteed to make you think. Elvene
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Alen Lane
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Enthralling.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 29, 2021
Well written, in plain english. David makes it possible for less intelligent people, like me, to follow complex ideas and arguments. A big bonus is the humour. Very good value.
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Mike Gould
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A good overview of the many worlds theory of QM and ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 2, 2016
A good overview of the many worlds theory of QM and a refreshingly clear explanation of the scientific method, how we know one theory is better than another and make progress - along with quite a labored discussion of virtual reality and a few other ideas about computation...See more
A good overview of the many worlds theory of QM and a refreshingly clear explanation of the scientific method, how we know one theory is better than another and make progress - along with quite a labored discussion of virtual reality and a few other ideas about computation and evolution which the author believes are related in some way that''s not quite clear.
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