Amazon Book Description
- For a physicist, all the world is information1. The Universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information2. We are all3 transient patterns of information4, passing on the recipe for our basic forms to future generations using a four-letter digital code called DNA.
- In this engaging and mind-stretching account, Vlatko Vedral considers some of the deepest questions about the Universe and considers the implications of interpreting it in terms of information5. He explains the nature of information6, the idea of entropy, and the roots of this thinking in thermodynamics. He describes the bizarre effects of quantum behaviour ― effects such as 'entanglement', which Einstein called 'spooky action at a distance', and explores cutting edge7 work on harnessing quantum effects in hyperfast quantum computers, and how recent evidence suggests that the weirdness8 of the quantum world, once thought limited to the tiniest scales, may reach into the macro world.
- Vedral finishes by considering the answer to the ultimate question: where did all of the information9 in the Universe come from? The answers he considers are exhilarating, drawing upon the work of distinguished physicist John Archibald Wheeler. The ideas challenge our concept of the nature of particles, of time, of determinism, and of reality itself.
- This edition10 includes a new foreword from the author, reflecting on changes in the world of quantum information since first publication.
Back Cover Blurb
- What is the nature of reality?
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
- These are the deepest questions that humans have asked, that thinkers East and West have pondered over the centuries. In this exhilarating book, spanning betting strategies in casinos to quantum teleportation11, Vlatko Vedral shows how, through the profound concept of information12, we can begin to understand the structure of the universe, and glimpse the very fabric of reality.
- ‘Let Vedral guide you skilfully through the wonderland of modern physics — where nothing is as it seems. This is the finest treatment I have read of the weird interplay of quantum reality, information13 and probability.’
→ Paul Davies, author of The Eerie Silence and The Goldilocks Enigma
- ‘An engaging, non-technical exploration of what the new theory of quantum information14 and computation tells us about life, the universe, and everything.’
→ David Deutsch, author of The Fabric of Reality
Inside Cover Blurbs
- ‘Information15’ may seem a mundane word, bringing to mind rows of numbers, vast databases, the great reams of material thrown at us from every direction in the modern world. But information16 is the most profound concept of modern science. The Universe and everything in it can be understood in terms of information17. We are information18. Evolution describes the inheritance of information19 with gradual change of its units, the genes. Every particle, when measured, is represented by a set of data. Does it exist out-side of our measurement? According to quantum theory20, yes and no. We experience reality — reality is created — through interaction.
- Vlatko Vedral takes us from Claude Shannon’s definition of information21— devised to improve the quality of telephone lines — to the growing recognition of its profound importance, its deep connection with entropy in thermodynamics, and its reformulation for the quantum world. Shannon’s unit of information, the ‘bit’, is defined in terms of a yes/no choice. But in the quantum world, ‘yes/no’ gives way to ‘both/and’: when ‘quantum’ and ’[information] information22’ are put together, a vast range of new understanding emerges; we find ourselves looking at the information-content of black holes, the potential of teleportation23, how a deterministic universe might emerge from randomness, and fundamental questions about reality. We see how modern science shares the wonder and spiritual quest of sages East and West, and draws us towards a possible explanation for the Universe; an explanation of exquisite simplicity, strangeness, and beauty. The Universe, it would seem, maketh itself.
- Vlatko Vedral
- Studied undergraduate theoretical physics at Imperial College London, where he also received a PhD for his work on ‘Quantum Information Theory of Entanglement'. Since June 2009, Vedral moved to Oxford as Professor of Quantum Information Science.
- Throughout his career he has held a number of visiting professorships at different international institutions. He has published more than 130 research papers and has written two textbooks. He has written for popular science journals and major daily newspapers, as well as doing extensive radio programmes and television interviews.
Note: The book has its own Wikipedia page, which contains summaries of the various Chapters: Wikipedia: Decoding Reality.
Acknowledgements – ix
Prologue – i
- Creation Ex Nihilo: Something from Nothing – 5
- Information24for all Seasons – 14
- Part One – 25
- Back to Basics: Bits and Pieces – 25
- Digital Romance: Life25 is a Four-Letter Word – 37
- Murphy’s Law: I Knew this Would Happen to Me – 57
- Place Your Bets: In It to Win It – 77
- Social Informatics: Get Connected or Die Tryin’ – 91
- Part Two – 111
- Quantum Schmuntum: Lights, Camera, Action! – 116
- Surfing the Waves: Hyper-Fast Computers – 134
- Children of the Aimless Chance: Randomness versus Determinism – 152
- Part Three – 171
- Sand Reckoning: Whose Information is It, Anyway? – 173
- Destruction ab Toto: Nothing from Something – 189
- Epilogue – 215
Notes – 219
Index – 227
In-Page Footnotes ("Vedral (Vlatko) - Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information")
Footnote 4: Footnote 7:
Footnote 8: Footnote 10:
- As this book was published in 2010, the edge will doubtless have lost some of its sharpness!
- I have the First Edition, but – based on this remark – the text is probably the same, and the “new Foreword” is only a couple of pages, by the looks of the preview on Amazon.
- OUP Oxford; 1st edition (2010)
- Maybe I should probably have bought the 2018 2nd edition, though the text of my edition looks identical to that of the 2nd edition as viewed on Amazon, and the first edition was much cheaper - and hardback.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)