The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics
"A thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science."
The New York Times Book Review
Cover of What is Real?

Every physicist agrees quantum physics is among humanity's finest scientific achievements. But ask what it means, and the result will be a brawl. For a century, most physicists have followed Niels Bohr's "Copenhagen interpretation" and dismissed questions about the reality underlying quantum physics as meaningless. A mishmash of solipsism and poor reasoning, Copenhagen endured, as Bohr's students vigorously protected his legacy, and the physics community favored practical experiments over philosophical arguments. As a result, questioning the status quo long meant professional ruin. And yet, from the 1920s to today, physicists like John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett persisted in seeking the true meaning of quantum physics. What Is Real? is the gripping story of this battle of ideas, and of the scientists who dared to seek the fundamental nature of the world around us.

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"A riveting storyteller, Becker brings to life physicists who have too long remained in the shadow of Bohr and Einstein."

"Fascinating...An excellent, accessible account."
Wall Street Journal

"Splendid...Deeply detailed research, accompanied by charming anecdotes about the scientists."
Washington Post

"Impressive...The subtext running through this hugely enjoyable book is that, if we still have a long way to go before we understand reality, we may only have our own prejudices to blame."
New Scientist

"Remarkable...A superb contribution both to popular understanding of quantum theory and to ongoing debates among experts...It deserves wide attention and careful study."
Physics Today

"A joy to read...I cannot recommend this book highly enough."
Physics World

"Spellbinding...What is Real? is required reading. There is no more reliable, careful, and readable account of the whole history of quantum theory in all its scandalous detail."
Boston Review

About the Author
Adam Becker is a science journalist and public speaker with a PhD in astrophysics. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the BBC, NPR, Scientific American, New Scientist, Aeon, Undark, and elsewhere. He has also recorded a video series with the BBC and several podcasts with the Story Collider. Adam is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Office for History of Science and Technology, and he is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation book grant. He lives in California.