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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.
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.