Any detailed discussion of space-time in quantum physics and what it means in terms of classical physical world (one observable to us) is bound to get to the mind-boggling/weird side. And I’ll say Fred Alan Wolf’s Parallel Universes (Simon & Schuster, 1990) is not an exception. But I must add it is one of the books on the topic that can keep a reader engaged all along by some really cool examples and scenarios.
Committed to the its title—parallel universes—the book starts with the fundamental physical phenomenon of wave-particle duality that actually serves as the basis for quantum phenomena and parallel realities—or possibilities, to be more precise. Things are easier to grasp and visualize at this stage of the story. But as you go farther and deeper to the question of possibility in terms of space-time and replacing bigger entities for electrons in examples, the bizarre and paranormal implications start appearing with replicas, things turning back on themselves simultaneously, and all the Twilight Zone stuff.
The author’s voice, however, is never lost. And it’s one of the best qualities of a book to be able to feel the same authorial presence to guide you through the narrative no matter how muddy or fogy the scene gets. Fred Alan Wolf is that guiding voice—and given his academic credentials one could guess that he would be a great illustrator in class as well.
Parallel Universes is not just a good quantum physics book for laymen and science students; it is truly a good source of history of quantum physics. There is a lot of information on when, where, and through whom a particular concept or view came to be founded and/or developed. This is good food for readers who are interested in historical development of a field, and particularly to those of us who tend to relate everything to Einstein or Stephen Hawking whenever it comes to singularities and space-time.