Review of Adventures in Quantumland by “Jehannum” (amazon.com)

A review from UK reader “Jehannum” was recently posted on the amazon.com page for my recent book Adventures in Quantumland: Exploring Our Unseen Reality (WSP, 2019). I reproduce it below:

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5.0 out of 5 stars

This book provides a revolutionary understanding of quantum physics.

It’s common to come out of a study of quantum physics with more questions than one started with. The ideal reader for ‘Adventures in Quantumland’ would be someone who has looked a little into quantum theory but who has come away dissatisfied and disillusioned with the many conflicting interpretations currently in circulation.

Faced with this problem, the casual student can simply move on to something new. The physics undergraduate can adopt a “shut up and calculate” approach that will get them through classes and exams but won’t really provide satisfactory answers to the questions that got them interested in science in the first place.

‘Adventures in Quantumland’ presents an interpretation of quantum physics that fits perfectly with the underlying mathematics. In the Transactional Interpretation (TI) there are no ad hoc additions such as hidden variables. Every element of the mathematics has some physical referent within the model. The TI answers all of the outstanding questions that have plagued the subject for years.

Like the author’s previous book ‘Understanding Our Unseen Reality’, this one is primarily non-mathematical. However, it progresses further, including insights into the meaning of Dirac’s brac-ket notation. A beautiful example of this is given on page 87, where a string of notation from quantum field theory is interpreted into simple English, step-by-step (from right to left, of course).

The book goes far beyond solving classic conundrums such as the Double Slit Experiment, Schrodinger’s Cat, and so on. Those who are puzzled as to why quantum physics does not appear to mesh with Einstein’s Relativity will find their questions answered (and solved) here. Those who wonder over the origins of the Born Rule will find that it arises naturally within the Transactional Interpretation.

The book’s core idea is that the mathematics of quantum physics, with its complex numbers and multi-dimensional vector spaces, is telling us that reality is too large to take place in the 3+1 dimensional container most of us believe the universe to be. It’s a revolutionary idea – that spacetime itself is emergent: a product of phenomena occurring in a greater, quantum realm. Kastner’s Relativistic Transactional Interpretation (RTI) shows us there is no conflict between Relativity (a spacetime theory) and quantum physics (which does not originate in spacetime).

The role of the philosopher of science is to closely examine the interpretation of scientific theories, pointing out any unwarranted assumptions that may have been missed (or in Kastner’s words, “smuggled in”). This is something Ruth Kastner does without fear, taking aim at Bohr, Bohmian Mechanics, the Many-Worlds Interpretation (including one of its leading proponents, Sean Carroll), “decoherence”, “weak measurements”, and even the Schrodinger equation. Later chapters deal with consciousness, free will (watch out Sam Harris), and other philosophical aspects relating to quantum physics.

After reading this book you’ll smile quietly to yourself whenever you see a lecture or video puzzling over some mysterious aspect of quantum physics because you’ll probably know the answer. (Review by “Jehannum”, amazon.com, retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/s6b24ud on 3/2/20)

3 thoughts on “Review of Adventures in Quantumland by “Jehannum” (amazon.com)

  1. This is a fascinating review of the book. Thank you. One thought from a cognitive neuroscience perspective: is this compatible with Donald D Hoffman’s idea that space-time is part of a non-veridical interface that humans have evolved in order to survive as embodied creatures, and that true reality is not what we ‘think it is’ as a result? Hoffman makes the analogy to a computer where there is a GUI that shows you pictures of a file folder and a sheet of paper that you are doing word processing on, but the reality is that there are digital circuits and microprocessors actually making the computations and generating the responses on the screen–something that the GUI user really has no need to fathom. See Donald D Hoffman’s book, ‘The Case Against Reality’.. https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393254693

    1. There’s some overlap here, but in my proposal spacetime is veridical in that there is a real physical process that gives rise to it: the transfer of photons constitute spacetime intervals that “really” connect actualized emission and absorption events. So there is real physical content to the spacetime manifold. There is a distinction between that ontology and our phenomenal perception that I think Hoffman misses. He seems to take the spacetime construct as purely subjective, but I’d differ with him there.

  2. It also kind of suggests that actuality as we perceive it can be understood as an ‘Explicate Order’ while reality as it is can be understood as an ‘Implicate Order’ referencing terms used by David Bohm in his book ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’… the crucial issues related to how something from Quantumland (Implicate Order) actualizes into the classical world (Explicate Order) as well as how something that has actualized may have an influence on the underlying Reality of Quantumland…

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