The Fabric of Reality

The Fabric of RealityThe Fabric of Reality

The Fabric of Reality is a non-fiction book written by physicist David Deutsch. Originally published in 1997, the book hopes to use the concept of quantum mechanics to change the way people view and understand reality.

In Fabric of Reality, Deutsch paints a world that is very alien and unbelievable but strangely familiar. He describes a world that sounds vaguely like our own, but not really. Confused? In a way, that is what the book is all about. Deutsch throws out provocative and ambitious concepts one after another, and forces you to accept it as truth.

While a lot of people might find it incredulous, maybe that’s what the book is all about. In a way, it makes me feel inept, that the reason why Deutsch’s concepts seem alien to me is because I only understand the world in relation to this one universe.

You see, the book talks about the multiverse. According to Deutsch, there exists several universes, with the same physical composition and  following the same laws of physics. However, these different worlds vary in the positioning of the particles.

You may have heard of multiverses before, but Deutsch’s concept is different. Other multiverse theories come from “the butterfly effect” theory, where there’s a different parallel universe that is created and branches off as a result of major events and decisions.

In Deutsch’s version of the multiverse, other versions of the universe don’t come from the main, tangible one and branch off and grow in numbers in time. According to Deutsch, the multiverse are different layers of the same universe, coexisting and sometimes overlapping and affecting each other. The number of universes is so large that you might as well think there are infinite universes out there. It’s hard for anybody to imagine, even someone who is supportive of Deutsch’s claims.

The premise is probably scary for a lot of people; after all, knowing that the reality we know is not the singular reality and there are other realities out there that we have yet to understand. People tend to fear the unknown and to hear that despite knowing little about our own universe, is faced with the fact that there are other universes that we cannot hope to understand.

The book goes on in a tangent every now and then, moving away from the original topic, but in some way connects back to it. He explores the concepts of Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins about evolution  Deutsch talks about the significance of life and the complexity of knowledge, praising the human brain as a work of evolution.

The brain can encompass the secret of the universe, and Deutsch says that the human brain itself has a subconscious inkling of the existence of other universes.

Deutsch also explores the concept of time. He asserts that the Newtonian is flawed, but nonetheless interesting. He said it beautifully himself: “Time does not flow. Other times are just special cases of other universes.”. So does this mean that time is simply the multiverse interacting with one another? The idea is ambitious and even confusing, and at the end his explanation of time is extremely vague.

Time travel is another interesting subject that the book touches on. Deutsch asserts that man’s definition of time travel is very limited. This means that the time travel we know of today, as depicted in the movies and in books, is very limited and uncreative.

The time travel that we humans envision is travelling to a future that is foreseeable and relevant in terms of our technology. In Deutsch’s words we can assume that time travel should see further than that. Maybe it’s because we lack the imagination to dream up of concepts that do not yet exist as of the present, and our version of the future is based on concepts that we can envision easily.

While this book may leave you dumbfounded in several instances, it gives you new concepts to consider and encourages you to think outside the box – outside the universe, even. One read through is not enough for this book – it requires several repetitions to even begin to grasp the complexity of the novel ideas. It might not be for everybody, but its ability to question reality as you know it is refreshing.

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