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Decoding Reality

The Universe as Quantum Information
Narrated by: Jay Russell
Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Physics
4.4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For a physicist, all the world is information. The universe and its workings are the ebb and flow of information. We are all transient patterns of information, passing on the recipe for our basic forms to future generations using a four-letter digital code called DNA.

In this engaging and mind-stretching account, Vlatko Vedral considers some of the deepest questions about the universe and considers the implications of interpreting it in terms of information. He explains the nature of information, the idea of entropy, and the roots of this thinking in thermodynamics.

He also describes the bizarre effects of quantum behaviour - effects such as "entanglement", which Einstein called "spooky action at a distance", and explores cutting-edge work on harnessing quantum effects in hyperfast quantum computers, and how recent evidence suggests that the weirdness of the quantum world, once thought limited to the tiniest scales, may reach into the macro world.

Vedral finishes by considering the answer to the ultimate question: where did all of the information in the universe come from? The answers he considers are exhilarating, drawing upon the work of distinguished physicist John Wheeler. The ideas challenge our concept of the nature of particles, of time, of determinism, and of reality itself.

©2010 Vlatko Vedral (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • 19-08-2011

Excellent on all counts.

The author takes a very complicated subject and makes it understandable. He tells you what he's going to tell you, says it and then tells you what he said. He really does connect the dots between information and quantum theory. As he says, "information is physical" and explains what he means by that.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 06-07-2011

Excellent Listen

If you are interested in learning about quantum physics, this is a great read. When you are finished with the book, you will have a general understanding of quantum physics as well as the critical role information plays in the formation of our reality. The chapters step nicely through the theory and the narrator’s slow tone is perfect for a topic that requires digestion as you listen to it. This is a book that can be understood by anyone despite the complex topic.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 15-08-2010

OK but rambly

There are parts of this book I liked quite a lot, but other parts were weak and other sections did not tie together. I think the author is kind-of on the right track but has quite a ways to go to get to compelling. For a brief introduction to information theory it is quite nice, but this does not tie information theory to reality.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Philo
  • 13-07-2012

Free-ranging, creative, connecting many dots

I don't think the author establishes his thesis here, but it is a fun ride. He ranges in and out of biology, financial markets, and other areas with the common thread based on (a nimbly but simplistically-explained version of) Claude Shannon's information theory. I think sometimes he overestimates his knowledge and his (few) formulas' applications (his confident proclamations about finance being an example). But, there is virtue in this ease and simplicity, in that it allows a very loose and imaginative walk, connecting disciplines and ideas, in ways I had been searching for, and a listenable way. So, I will continue to make disciplined studies in these fields, while feeling richer from his imaginative whirlwind tour. Some thinkers serve us best by drilling unerringly into the technicalities and presenting rigorous proofs; others, like this, have a lighter step that poses possibilities to us.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Renaissance_Cajun
  • 25-04-2011

Excellent Content but Poor Delivery

The content of this book is presented in a manner that I believe would be friendly to people without a serious background in physics - I only took a minor in physics in college with no formal coursework in quantum mechanics, so I think I can make that judgment properly - and the notion of quantum information theory is something that relates to everyone's "everyday" life. However, the narration is annoying in a way that's hard to quantify - almost too conversational at points that should be more serious, something just "not right" for the subject matter. Still worth the listen in my opinion though - I've listened to the whole thing twice in fact..

5 people found this helpful

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  • BlackShahn
  • 21-09-2017

Magical HomeRun!

Thought provoking stance of information on information with attention to detail every step of the way. This book, in its entirety, hits home on the points and sums up information easy to understand by relating modern and past examples of physics. 3 Thumbs Up!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bernd Lamberts
  • 07-04-2015

Great book worth listening twice

I really liked the book it grew on me . it's not very technical however that's fine for an audio book

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-03-2015

Valuable

I greatly enjoyed this book. I was intrigued and convinced by his conclusion that the universe is essentially informational. However, he does very poorly in trying to prove that this information comes from nothing. It seemed that he was trying awfully hard to avoid divine implication. I'm not sure why science writers can do so well with the intricacies of quantum mechanics and be such poor philosophers.

2 people found this helpful

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  • James S.
  • 01-08-2020

Highly underrated

This book helped me make connections between concepts in physics that no other book has even come close to matching. For example, the connection between the curvature of space and entropy, mass and energy, black holes and holography, etc. And these connections are all made without the need of equations; just very well written and narrated thought experiments.

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  • Pete
  • 26-04-2016

Thesis unmet; however, worth listening to.

I appreciated the extrapolation of quantum information. However, I believe the thesis was unfulfilled by the book.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 16-06-2010

horrific narration

I'm quite a fan of popular science books and science fiction and somehow have never listened to anything quite like this. I'm about 10 minutes in and I'm trying to figure out a way to speed this audio up (which is proving difficult within iTunes and the AA format). I may have to put it on my iPod which at least allows me to change the playback speed.

So to review, the narrator is so slow in speaking it's infuriating, I really suggest listening to a sample first, something I neglected to do. If I can find a way to speed this up it might prove to be an interesting book, Amazon reviews seemed ok. Unfortunately speed won't give the narrator any intonation or emotion, although it might make the whole thing bearable. I'd rather have the computer's robot voice read it to me, or dare I say it, read it myself!

I've had probably 20 audio books from Audible and this is by far the worst. It's a shame since I'm very curious to see what the author has to say about the subject of information and the universe. I guess I'm spoilt by fantastic books like Death by Black Hole and The Short History of Nearly Everything, both of which I've listened to many times and would recommend highly.

Sorry for the rant, I just hope that having a review might help someone else avoid the same situation, I wish there was a review before I used MY credit on it!


14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Atton Conrad O'murchadha
  • 18-07-2012

profound.

Superb book on the nature of information & reality. Felt the same sense of awe on reading about quantum physics for the first time as a child.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Larry Reacher
  • 19-02-2019

Interesting theory. good book..

Interesting theory. good book.. worth a read. its a better model than the current standard, at least it answers more questions anyways.. could be something here..

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  • Richard
  • 21-01-2019

good overall

Enjoyed it, it was in general a good interesting read. Would recommend to people with some physics background

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  • Mike
  • 11-03-2017

Really Enjoyed This

Will be listening to this several times to fully grasp the concept better, the idea that information is really all there is. is intriguing but I feel that this is still not the complete picture of reality, but I guess time will tell!