The Undivided Universe : Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory, Paperback

The Undivided Universe : Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory Paperback

5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In the The Undivided Universe, David Bohn and Basil Hiley present a radically different approach to quantum theory.

They develop an interpretation of quantum mechanics which gives a clear, intuitive understanding of its meaning and in which there is a coherent notion of the reality of the universe without assuming a fundamental role for the human observer. With the aid of new concepts such as active information together with non-locality, they provide a comprehensive account of all the basic features of quantum mechanics, including the relativistic domain and quantum field theory. It is shown that, with the new approach, paradoxical or unsatisfactory features associated with the standard approaches, such as the wave-particle duality and the collapse of the wave function, do not arise. Finally, the authors make new suggestions and indicate some areas in which one may expect quantum theory to break down in a way that will allow for a test. The Undivided Universe is an important book especially because it provides a different overall world view which is neither mechanistic nor reductionist. This view will ultimately have radical implications not only in physics but also in our general approach to all areas of life.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Philosophy of science
  • ISBN: 9780415121859



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Richard Feynman once said “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don't understand quantum mechanics”, and though such pessimism in science is not generally a good thing, he was right when he said it. Since then, however, this book has been published, and a consistent and understandable ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics put forth.The important things this book makes clear are several, and I won't list them all. Firstly it explains the wave particle duality in a way that uses both but does not require a changing from one to the other, with the particle always being present, and the wave behaviour explained by an extension on de Broglies pilot wave theory. This reconciles quantum theory with the classical viewpoint, eliminating such difficulties as collapse of the waveform while still fitting experimental data.The second important thing that is cleared up is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which I personally have only ever seen as an ad hoc arrangement to bridge over experimental difficulties in observing the particle without disturbing it. Here it is explained that the particle is always present, and always at a definite position, and the uncertainty is only introduced in observation, which is a special case and brings in uncertainty due to the influence of the particle, shot in,(and its waveform), to detect the particle under observation. Also, from what I can gather, it suggests that the Schroedingers Cat paradox would be solved by the cat being either dead or alive, and not indeterminate, with the choice being made as soon as the particle hit the detector, but I cannot remember if the book states this explicitly, or if it is just a consequence of accepting the interpretation given.Non-Locality and the EPR paradox, which seems to go against the theory of relativity, is also dealt with here. It is explained by the wave part of the two particles being entangled, and this carries the faster than light influence, and as gravity does this too in relativity theory, and not the particles creating the gravity, it is allowed; the particles are guided by the wave function here, and do not them selves breach the rule.This book is definitely not one for those unaccustomed to quantum theory, it has a lot of equations in it and is very technical, it is the most difficult book on quantum theory I have come across, (but I am not a physicist). It doesn't fit into the popular science category due to its technicality, and would only be of interest to someone with a sound understanding of standard quantum theory. I dislike the phrase “must read”, but for the student of physics it would go as far as saying this was highly recommended, there is so much of standard quantum theory that does not make proper sense, and this book resolves it, so it would be putting yourself at a disadvantage not to read it.

Review by

This book presents Bohm's interpretation of quantum physics. I don't agree with the interpretation, but the presentation is clear and more detailed than one gets in science survey texts. One can use this book as a test. If one does not understand what is in this text, one doesn't really understand the debate about the interpretations of quantum physics.

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