make sense of quantum weirdness

Quantum physics has earned a reputation as a realm of science beyond human comprehension. It describes a microworld of perplexing, paradoxical phenomena. Its equations imply a multiplicity of possible realities; an observation seems to select one of those possibilities for accessibility to human perception. The rest either disappear, remain hidden or weren’t really there to begin with. Which of those explanations pertains is debated by competing interpretations of the quantum math, pursued in a field of study known as quantum foundations.

Numerous quantum interpretations have been proposed — and an even greater number of books have been written about them. Two of the latest such books offer very different perspectives.

Philip Ball, in Beyond Weird, argues that much of the famous quantum weirdness lies in the popular descriptions of it, rather than in the math itself. Adam Becker’s What is Real? insists that the traditional “Copenhagen interpretation” is misguided; he extols the work of several physicists who reject it. Becker writes with exuberance and self-assuredness, often focusing on the personal stories of the scientists he discusses. Ball’s approach is less personal but more conversational, although he does not try to evade the sticky technicalities that illustrate and partially explain the quantum mysteries.

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