Escape from Shadow Physics

Dispatches on 2/07/2024


An expert physicist argues for a revolutionary new understanding of quantum mechanics.

The received wisdom in quantum physics is that, at the deepest levels of reality, there are no actual causes for atomic events. This idea led to the outlandish belief that quantum objects -- indeed, reality itself -- aren't real unless shaped by human measurement. Einstein mocked this idea, asking whether his bed spread out across his room unless he looked at it. And yet it remains one of the most influential ideas in science and our culture.

In Escape from Shadow Physics, Adam Forrest Kay takes up Einstein's torch: reality isn't mysterious or dependent on human measurement, but predictable and independent of us. At the heart of his argument is groundbreaking research with little drops of oil. These droplets behave as particles do in the long-overlooked quantum theory of pilot waves; crucially, they showcase quantum behavior while being described by classical physics.

What if the original doubters of our quantum orthodoxy (not least Einstein himself) were onto something? What if pilot wave theory was right all along? In that case, our whole story of twentieth-century physics is topsy-turvy, and we must give up the idea that reality is simply too weird to grasp. Weird it may still be, but a true understanding of nature now seems within our reach.