Making Sense of Quantum Mechanics

I’ll always be grateful to David Albert. In the early 1990s, when I was struggling to write an article called “Quantum Philosophy,” Albert, a philosopher of physics who specializes in quantum mechanics, took pity on me. He served as my guide through the netherworld of quantum interpretations, elucidating the relative merits of the Copenhagen, Bohmian pilot-wave and many-worlds interpretations. He told me about his own ideas too, including a many-worlds variant that involves many minds, and speculation on on how artificial intelligences based on quantum computation might differ from our own minds.

Albert, who’s at Columbia, belongs to a philosophy salon to which I belong in New York City, and he always elevates the chitchat. He is erudite without being pedantic, by which I mean that he cuts through the bullshit, a trait that I, the amateur, appreciate. To see what I mean, check out his 2012 critique of a pop-physics book, one of my all-time favorite takedowns, and a preprint of his new paper “How to Teach Quantum Mechanics.” Interest in quantum mechanics has surged recently because of books like Beyond Weird by Philip Ball and What Is Real? by Adam Becker (for whom Albert served as a source). I thought it would be a good time to consult my trusty guide.

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