“The people of Tlön are taught that the act of counting modifies the amount counted, turning indefinites into definites.” By starting his first full-length book, with a quote from Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges – someone notorious for penning intricate commentaries on completely imaginary texts – science writer Adam Becker gives the reader an early indication that this isn’t going to be just any old account of quantum’s first century.

What is Real? the Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics features all the usual suspects – Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Wolfgang Pauli et al. are all here – but the perspective is shifted. Reminiscent of the famous Sermon on the Mount scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which takes the attention away from Jesus’ address, and onto the squabbling audience, the quantum story that we’ve all heard countless times before is pushed into the background. A new set of characters is brought into focus, allowing their much more interesting tale to be told.

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