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June 26th, 2006

Jun. 26th, 2006

When it comes to entertainment, you generally don't want to know what's happening off in the wings; you are perfectly content to focus solely on the production. But when it comes to understanding the universe, there is an insatiable urge to pull back all curtains, open all doors, and expose completely the deep inner workings of reality. Niels Bohr considered this urge baseless and misguided. To him, reality was the performance. Like a Spalding Gray soliloquy, an experimenter's bare-bones measurements are the whole show. There isn't anything else. According to Bohr, there is no backstage. Trying to analyze how, and when, and why a quantum wavefunction relinquishes all but one possibility and produces a single definite number on a measuring device is missing the point. The measured number itself is all that's worthy of attention.

For decades, this perspective held sway.

—Brian Greene

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