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Grappling With Reality

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the most challenging books I've ever read. Though I love reading about fresh science, as a humanities professional I've long been confused and intimidated by quantum physics. It just didn't make sense. While I definitely did not understand all the concepts in this book, Frank Wilczek's Fundamentals helped me feel better about the field--maybe I've made peace with my confusion!

Wilczek acknowledges how deeply weird quantum physics is. His descriptions of how as children we all gradually learn to make sense of what we experience around us helped me grasp why the subatomic world is so mind-blowingly different from what we know. The author suggests that quantum physics is a more mature, complete way to understand the physical world--but it need not replace the more everyday, simple way we make sense of the reality around us.

I feel expanded by this book and reassured that while I'll probably never fully understand quantum physics, I'm far from alone. Wilczek leaves plenty of room for wonder and mystery. I recommend this book for anyone brave enough to try and wrap their head around this intimidating but in some ways quirkily charming field.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"The process of being born again can be disorienting. But, like a roller-coaster ride, it can also be exhilarating. And it brings this gift: To those who are born again, in the way of science, the world comes to seem fresh, lucid, and wonderfully abundant. They come to live out William Blake’s vision: To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour"

"The world is simple and complex, logical and weird, lawful and chaotic. Fundamental understanding does not resolve those dualities. Indeed, as we have seen, it highlights and deepens them. You can’t do justice to physical reality without taking complementarity to heart. Humans, too, are wrapped in dualities. We are tiny and enormous, ephemeral and long-lasting, knowledgeable and ignorant. You can’t do justice to the human condition without taking complementarity to heart."

You can see all my highlights for this book on Goodreads. See you around the cosmos!

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