Synopses & Reviews
In Decoding Reality
, Vlatko Vedral offers a mind-stretching look at the deepest questions about the universe--where everything comes from, why things are as they are, what everything is.
The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, he writes, but information--and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena. This view allows Vedral to address a host of seemingly unrelated questions: Why does DNA bind like it does? What is the ideal diet for longevity? How do you make your first million dollars? We can unify all through the understanding that everything consists of bits of information, he writes, though that raises the question of where these bits come from. To find the answer, he takes us on a guided tour through the bizarre realm of quantum physics. At this sub-sub-subatomic level, we find such things as the interaction of separated quantum particles--what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." In fact, Vedral notes, recent evidence suggests that quantum weirdness, once thought to be limited to the tiniest scale, may actually reach into the macro world and make teleportation a real possibility. It is in quantum physics, he writes, that we really can find the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
Vlatko Vedral is one of the key researchers in quantum science. In this book, he offers a mind-bending account of this leading-edge field.
For a physicist, all the world's information. The Universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information. We are all transient patterns of information, 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 information. He explains the nature of information, 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 edge work on the harnessing quantum effects in hyperfast quantum computers, and how recent evidence suggests that the weirdness 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 information in the Universe come from? The answers he considers are exhilarating, drawing upon the work of distinguished physicist John Wheeler. The ideas challenge our concept of the nature of particles, of time, of determinism, and of reality itself.
About the Author
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 has 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.
Table of Contents
1. Creation Ex Nihilo: something from nothing
2. Information for all seasons
3. Back to basics: bits and pieces
4. Digital romance: life is a four-letter word
5. Murphy's Law: I knew this would happen to me
6. Place your bets: in it to win it
7. Social informatics: get connected or die tryin'
8. Quantum schmuntum: lights, camera, action!
9. Surfing the waves: hyper-fast computers
10. Children of the aimless chance: randomness versus determinism
11. Sand reckoning: whose information is it, anyway?
12. Destruction ab toto: the darkness of reality