REVIEW OF `THE NEW QUANTUM AGE` BY ANDREW WHITAKER
Reviewed by S.K.SAGAR
“`This is another outstanding `Five Star` book. I have never reviewed any ..other than `Five Star`.
It is expensive … so I kept renewing from the British Library number of times..till I finished reading and had made enough notes on the parts I liked, and there are many.
I am quite used to Andrew Whitaker`s unique style of writing. I have read one of his other books “Einstein Bohr and the Quantum Dillemma“ which is there on my shelf. He goes into enormous detail, cutting open all the theories to near quantum levels, appreciating the theories he likes and understanding and explaining the others , without being critical of their authors, and giving all the Scientists involved, due respect. His ultimate aim – after an analytical review of all the viewpoints of the various Scientists – is to develop an understanding of the subject that makes the best sense.
His elaborate coverage of the Einstein Bohr debate in `EBATQD` as well as in this book, is spellbinding. In the end if I am asked the question..“Who won the debate ?, my answer would be `Neither Einstein nor Bohr lost the debate` “.
My review of `The New Quantum age` like my review of another book viz “Information and the nature of reality“ edited by Paul Davies and Gregerson, is I am afraid somewhat self centred as I try to correlate it with my philosophical views as expressed in my first book` Six Words` and in my next book `Intelligent Field`. The common denominators are that …“It is the Information in the field which is responsible for the phenomena“ … that “Our universe is a quantum computer, that keeps computing its own behaviour“ .. and that “things are getting more and more complex all the time“.
Having said that I now focus on the part of the book which is in support of my viewpoints expressed above. So I go to Part III of the book “An introduction to Quantum Information Theory“…Chapter 15 ..“Knowledge, Information, and ( a little about) Quantum Information“.
As the Scientist Lee Smolin (page 291 of the book) said : “There are only four prolbems which the Scientists have not been able to solve so far. These are:
1) How to combine quantum theory and general relativity to produce a single theory ( of quantum gravity) that can claim to be a complete theory of matter.
2) How to combine all the particles and forces in today`s physics to give a theory as manifestations of a fundamental unity.
3) To explain how the values of the free constants in the standard model of particle physics ( the masses and life times of the various elementary particles ) are chosen in nature.
4) To explain the existence and properties of dark matter and dark energy. “
Smolin feels that the above four problems will not be solved in isolation, and that the solution of these great problems will come together. A possible way forward — also suggested by Smolin – is to give up the attempt to apply quantum theory to the universe as a whole and to regard quantum theory as the record of quantum information that one sub system may have about another sub system as a result of their mutual interaction. In this way ideas from the study of quantum information may demonstrate how elementary particles may emerge from quantum space –time.
In other words the universe — as suggested by the Scientist Seth LLyod – can be considered as a quantum computer. One may ask the question ..`But what does the Universe compute ?.`. Seth Llyod gives the answer : “ It computes its own behaviour. At first the patterns it produces are simple, but as it processes more and more information, it produces more intricate and complex patterns – on the physical side giving rise to galaxies, stars, and planets, while on the human side, producing life, language, human beings, society and culture.“
In subsequent chapters, it is explained that a classical computer cannot simulate a quantum mechanical system, so the Universe being quantum mechanical , cannot be considered a classical computer, and can only be a quantum computer.
My own idea is that all this happens in a field, and when sufficient information is accumulated in the field, it becomes an `Intelligent Field`, where the Intelligence in the field keeps increasing all the time, and this intelligence like that of an `Infinite Mind` is focussed on creating biochemistries suitable for creating awarenesses and consciousnesses etc to understand itself. Hence that portion of the computation which the universe does, which is attributed to the intelligence of the Intelligent Field is not completely in the domain of `quantum computation` … to some extent it could even be called `classical computation`.
It could also be that the Intelligent Field is itself a product of simulation which then simulates the universe?. and it goes on and on …step by step…trillions and trillions of intermediate steps, through trillions of years and countless eons of the universe. And with each simulation the complexities increase. It must have been very very very simple in the very very very beginning. A universe from nothing at all. It could be that we the human beings are an `Intermediate step`.
This viewpoint also encapsulates the Anthropic Principle and explains what happens when a new eon of the universe is created…. “All the information is available in the field…. all the constants of nature are already known to the Intelligence in the Field , its just the `switching on` that is needed. “
Whether to call it as `Intelligent Field` ..or an `Infinite Mind` … or `God` is of course just a matter of taste. The Theists can call it `God`, and the Atheists should be happy to call it as `IF` or `IM`whatever. The dispute should end.
John C Bell who is the hero of the book, is also my hero. I have written extensively about him and about his `Inequality idea` in my book `Six Words`. To have come out with an idea that it is possible to design an experiment to show that an `Inequality` which is a direct consequence of the assumption of local realism is violated, is nothing short of ingenious. The book can be taken more or less as Bell`s biography. I like (very much) the chapter on “Bell`s last thoughts“ ( chapter 14) where he discusses the “Six possible worlds of quantum Mechanics“. These are actually three worlds relating to three different aspects of quantum mechanics, and each world is divided into two parts viz an “Unromantic world“ which corresponds to his favourite interpretation on that aspect, and a “Romantic world“ corresponding to his bugbear. This is very interesting and amusing, but I am not going to reveal these here – let the reader find out on his own – except to say that in one of them I find the `Romantic world` part makes more sense.
The best line of the book for me is where Bell admits, in fact that he is convinced that “Mind has a central place in the ultimate nature of reality“
The “Infinite mind` of the “Intelligent Field“ I guess
I am thrilled.
All in all … An excellent book
This is my fourth review. “`
(Author of `Six Words … Seminar Held in a Parallel Universe`)