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The many worlds of Hugh Everett III

The idea of parallel worlds has been around for a long time, but in the late 1950's one person suggested that there was some real science behind the idea - a suggestion which is now being taken more and more seriously. In The many worlds of Hugh Everett III : multiple universes, mutual assured destruction, and the meltdown of a nuclear family, Peter Byrne tells the story.

Everett's idea was to cut through some of the mysticism surrounding quantum theory, and take seriously what the equations said. Byrne tells us of how this was mostly ignored at first, as it was in opposition to the Niels Bohr's dominant interpretation of quantum theory, but as the years passed more and more people began to support the Many Worlds idea. Everett soon left academia - his brilliant mind was much appreciated in the Cold War think tanks of the time. He was also an excellent programmer, and went on to set up several of his own businesses. His life wasn't the glowing success you might think though. A heavy drinker, smoker and womaniser, he just couldn't seem to keep his life on the rails. Eventually his health began to suffer and he was just 51 when he died.

The interleaving of different strands in the book helps to make it more accessible, helping the reader to understand not just the intricacies of interpretations of quantum theory, but also some of the reasons for the Cold War nuclear arms race. Highly recommended.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews