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Vlatko Vedral

Decoding reality

In 1994 Vlatko Vedral came across the phrase 'Information is Physical', and it had a lasting effect on his life. In Decoding reality: the universe as quantum information he puts forward his thoughts on how information and especially ideas from thermodynamics, underlies all areas of science.

The book starts with a description of a card game, with the players representing different sciences. We get to see the cards as each player plays them, and have to work out the rules of the game. As the book progresses, Vedral shows how ideas of information can be applied to the various sciences.

The trouble is that there are too many errors in the book. Vedral seems to think that global warming is simply due to releasing energy rather than the greenhouse effect of CO2. His thermodynamics of a Mars bar is the wrong way round. It became difficult for me take note of what he was arguing for as I looked out for the next 'howler'. Even when he knows his stuff, I don't think he explained it particularly well - he has no diagrams, which makes it difficult to see what is going on with the Mach-Zehnder interferometer, for instance. I get the feeling this book was written without putting that much effort into getting it right, and I would not recommend reading it.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 229 pages  
ISBN: 0199237697
Salesrank: 1637362
Weight:0.79 lbs
Published: 2010 Oxford University Press
Amazon price $8.50
Marketplace:New from $8.48:Used from $1.75
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 240 pages  
ISBN: 0199237697
Salesrank: 534674
Weight:0.79 lbs
Published: 2010 OUP Oxford
Marketplace:New from £14.19:Used from £0.89
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 0199237697
Salesrank: 516258
Weight:0.79 lbs
Published: 2010 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 44.94
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 44.94:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
For a physicist, all the world is 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 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.

This edition includes a new foreword from the author, reflecting on changes in the world of quantum information since first publication.

Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.