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The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

by
Edition:
Reprint
ISBN13:

9780199659241

ISBN10:
0199659249
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
2/7/2013
Publisher(s):
Oxford University Press

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This is the Reprint edition with a publication date of 2/7/2013.
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Summary

Peter Byrne tells the story of Hugh Everett III (1930-1982), whose "many worlds" theory of multiple universes has had a profound impact on physics and philosophy. Using Everett's unpublished papers (recently discovered in his son's basement) and dozens of interviews with his friends, colleagues, and surviving family members, Byrne paints, for the general reader, a detailed portrait of the genius who invented an astonishing way of describing our complex universe from the inside. Everett's mathematical model (called the "universal wave function") treats all possible events as "equally real", and concludes that countless copies of every person and thing exist in all possible configurations spread over an infinity of universes: many worlds. Afflicted by depression and addictions, Everett strove to bring rational order to the professional realms in which he played historically significant roles. In addition to his famous interpretation of quantum mechanics, Everett wrote a classic paper in game theory; created computer algorithms that revolutionized military operations research; and performed pioneering work in artificial intelligence for top secret government projects. He wrote the original software for targeting cities in a nuclear hot war; and he was one of the first scientists to recognize the danger of nuclear winter. As a Cold Warrior, he designed logical systems that modeled "rational" human and machine behaviors, and yet he was largely oblivious to the emotional damage his irrational personal behavior inflicted upon his family, lovers, and business partners. He died young, but left behind a fascinating record of his life, including correspondence with such philosophically inclined physicists as Niels Bohr, Norbert Wiener, and John Wheeler. These remarkable letters illuminate the long and often bitter struggle to explain the paradox of measurement at the heart of quantum physics. In recent years, Everett's solution to this mysterious problem-the existence of a universe of universes-has gained considerable traction in scientific circles, not as science fiction, but as an explanation of physical reality.

Table of Contents


Book 1: Beginnings
Introduction: The Story of Q
1. Family Origins: a Sketch
2. Katharine: the Dark Star
3. The Scientist as a Young Man
4. Stranger in Paradise
Book 2: Game World
5. Demigods
6. Decisions, Decisions-the Theory of Games
7. Origin of MAD
8. von Neumann's Legacy
Book 3: Quantum World
9. Quantum Everett
10. More on the Measurement Problem
11. Collapse and Complementarity
12. The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
Book 4: Everett and Wheeler
13. Wheeler: the Radical Conservative
14. Genesis of Many Worlds
15. Alone in the Room
16. Tour of Many Worlds
17. The Battle with Copenhagen, Part I
18. The Battle with Copenhagen, Part II
19. The Chapel Hill Affair
Book 5: Possible World Futures
20. Preparing for World War III
21. From Wargasm to Looking Glass
22. Fallout
Book 6: Crossroads
23. A Bell Jar World
24. A Vacation in Copenhagen
Book 7: Assured Destruction
25. Everett and Report 50
26. Everett and the SIOP
Book 8: Transitions
27. Behind Closed Doors
28. Death's Other Kingdoms
Book 9: Beltway Bandit
29. Weaponeering
30. The Bayesian Machine
31. The Death of Lambda
Book 10: Many Worlds Reborn
32. DeWitt to the Rescue
33. Records in Time
34. Austin
35. Wheeler Recants
Book 11: American Tragedy
36. The Final Years
37. Aftermath
Book 12: Everett's Legacy
38. Modern Everett
39. Everett Goes to Oxford
Epilogue: Beyond Many Worlds
Book 1: Beginnings
Introduction: The Story of Q
1. Family Origins: a Sketch
2. Katharine: the Dark Star
3. The Scientist as a Young Man
4. Stranger in Paradise
Book 2: Game World
5. Demigods
6. Decisions, Decisions-the Theory of Games
7. Origin of MAD
8. von Neumann's Legacy
Book 3: Quantum World
9. Quantum Everett
10. More on the Measurement Problem
11. Collapse and Complementarity
12. The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
Book 4: Everett and Wheeler
13. Wheeler: the Radical Conservative
14. Genesis of Many Worlds
15. Alone in the Room
16. Tour of Many Worlds
17. The Battle with Copenhagen, Part I
18. The Battle with Copenhagen, Part II
19. The Chapel Hill Affair
Book 5: Possible World Futures
20. Preparing for World War III
21. From Wargasm to Looking Glass
22. Fallout
Book 6: Crossroads
23. A Bell Jar World
24. A Vacation in Copenhagen
Book 7: Assured Destruction
25. Everett and Report 50
26. Everett and the SIOP
Book 8: Transitions
27. Behind Closed Doors
28. Death's Other Kingdoms
Book 9: Beltway Bandit
29. Weaponeering
30. The Bayesian Machine
31. The Death of Lambda
Book 10: Many Worlds Reborn
32. DeWitt to the Rescue
33. Records in Time
34. Austin
35. Wheeler Recants
Book 11: American Tragedy
36. The Final Years
37. Aftermath
Book 12: Everett's Legacy
38. Modern Everett
39. Everett Goes to Oxford
Epilogue: Beyond Many Worlds


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