The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

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9780199659241: The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

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 Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the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.

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About the Author:


Peter Byrne is an investigative reporter and science writer based in northern California. He has written for Scientific American, Mother Jones, Salon.com, SF Weekly, North Bay Bohemian, and many other magazines and newsweeklies. He has received national recognition for his investigative reporting, including from Investigative Editors & Reporters and Project Censored. He a member of the Foundational Questions Institute, which has supported this book with a large grant. He has made presentations on Everett at University of Oxford, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and University of California, Irvine. He consulted on (and appeared in) the BBC4 production about Everett, Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives. He is curating the Everett papers.

Review:

"The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III deserves to be widely read. It is comprehensive as a biography; satisfactory as an introduction to Everettian Quantum Mechanics; illuminating as a study in the psychology of physicists and of operations researchers; and engaging as a human story. I
recommend it to anyone with an interest in quantum theory."

--Alastair Wilson, Metascience

"The book provides new insights into the development and the later Renaissance of the 'many worlds' theory. I am recommending the anthology to anyone interested in the theory's physical or philosophical implications, and in the pro and con arguments [...]"

--Alexander Pawlak, Physik Journal

"Byrne's narrative compels serious attention, contains much important new material, is greatly enlivened and enhanced by his eagle eye for the telling quotation, and is always interesting and often convincing. It should intrigue any student of twentieth century physics, and is also a valuable
resource for anyone concerned with the broader eduction of the scientists and the impact narrowly scientific ways of thinking can have on scientists themselves and on the wider world."

--Adrian Kent, American Journal of Physics

"Vivid and thoroughly researched. Byrne does an admirable job of weaving together quantum mechanics, nuclear war games and the disintegration of a dysfunctional family in this tale of a talented scientist, but morally compromised man."

--Manjit Kumar

"The book offers a valuable source of primary information about Everett's life and work, with much material not available elsewhere, [and] fleshes out an important part of the quantum physics story."

--Science News

"Peter Byrne's meticulously researched biography provides a detailed and intimate look at one of the most seminal figures in 20th century physics and mathematics ... it is a remarkable and long-overdue biography."

--Ian T. Durham, The Quantum Times

"Offers a valuable source of primary information about Everetts life and work, with much material not available elsewhere ... this book fleshes out an important part of the quantum physics story."

--Tom Siegfried, ScienceNews

"The many worlds theory is still garish after all these years. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to read the story of its creator, himself too obsessed with models to intersect effectively with the real world."

--Robert P. Crease, Nature

"Byrne does an excellent job of explaining the theory, why it is necessary and the difficulties it solves (and doesn't). [...] Byrne does not patronise his readers with superficial pen portraits of his characters. We get to know the characters by what they say and what they do. And they say
and do some truly remarkable things. [...] This is a strangely beautiful story, expertly told with the dignity, candour and attention to detail it deserves."

--New Scientist

"The effort Byrne has put in to understanding the man is impressive ..."

--Robert Matthews, BBC Focus Magazine

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199659241

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AOP9780199659241

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