I love my Kindle.
Not quite as much as I love a good book (preferably second hand, well-travelled, and with at least one coffee stain, one sample of unknown food particulate between its pages, and a little pencilled marginalia from the previous owner).
But for sheer portability, convenience and cost-effectiveness, you just can’t beat it.
Even so, one of the things I wish they would improve is the screensaver.
When you are reading a book, it is usually pretty clear to anyone who cares to glance at the cover, what it is exactly you are reading.
In fact, carrying around an actual physical book can sometimes be a small act of revelation as to how you are feeling, what you are interested in, what you are studying etc.
It can be a medium for virtue signalling, a prompt for enquiry and a conversation starter.
This is far less obvious on a Kindle. If only the screensaver would default to the cover of the book you were currently reading, it would make it just that little bit more book-like.
So if you were to see me buried in my Kindle at the local coffee shop today, and were to enquire what I was reading…I would be happy to tell you.
Well……..its a book called: What is real?
This is a dive into the history of Quantum Mechanics, particularly looking at the development of Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation, as it relates to complementarity, collapsing wave functions, the Schrödinger equation, pilot waves…. and the subsequent emergence during the 1920s of a group of physicists (such as John Bell, David Bohm, and Hugh Everett) who dared to question the academic status quo.
It is about science, philosophy, politics, war and the extremely weird behaviours of reality, quantum and otherwise, as we know it.
Oh. You might reply.
Um…..well oh gee I forgot…Im late for an appointment. See you later.
Do you see? If you had been able to see the cover of the book, you might have just been able to avoid all that and strike up a conversation about something else altogether more engaging.
Despite my summary….this is actually a really good book.
It is written as a sort of whodunnit? that explores the development of some very complex ideas, explained with simple analogies, without any mathematical equations (thank goodness) and a focus on the relationships between the people trying to figure it all out.
Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you have even the slightest interest in any of these topics, I think this book will easily hook you in.
Dive deeper: What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics, by Adam Becker.