There is really a lot of science in this book, but this time it is perhaps slightly harder to see exactly where, and it is also much harder to find articles about it.
Astrand and Sumand
I made up these ideas, with no thought whatsoever of a scientific backing. Then, out of the blue, I came across an article on the internet. The concept of the amplituhedron absolutely amazed me, although it is way over my head and was news long after the idea of the astrand and the sumand came up. You can read about it here for a quick overview, and here for the article itself.
When I read about it I found myself staring at the page. If you look at the sketch by Nima Arkani-Hamed in the arXiv.org paper, you will see why.
The paper also says:
"They have also found a “master amplituhedron” with an infinite number of facets, analogous to a circle in 2-D, which has an infinite number of sides."
Which all goes to show that sometimes fact is at least as strange as fiction!
The concept of quantum traps, and impurities which may allow quantum escape, is also very interesting, though of course on a completely different scale to anything described in the book.
First of all ... quantum tunneling. This is now used routinely in all sorts of things that you use every day - hard drives, flash memory sticks, and now, touch screen technology for your smart phone. There is a nice video about this here, on Youtube.
So, basically quantum tunneling is a way to escape from a trap - a barrier - a potential. In the book, this trap is macroscopic, and an impurity is needed to promote "escape" by tunneling out of the trap.
There are many articles about quantum tunneling. Unfortunately most of the articles available on this are technical, and pretty hard to get through. There are fewer which mention quantum traps, tunneling out, impurities, seeding etc. Here are a few links which show various facets, but are definitely not for beginners! They are some of the ones I had a look at when I was researching the phenomena associated with tunneling and impurities: Dynamics of bright matter-wave solitons in inhomogeneous cigar-type Bose-Einstein condensate, Dynamics of Macroscopic Tunneling in elongated BEC, Atom cooling, trapping, and quantum manipulation, Low velocity quantum reflection of Bose-Eistein condensates, On the reality of the quantum state.
The selwaves in the story are analogous to solitons, and there is a nice video of what solitons in a Bose-Einstein condensate could be like here. There is a sharp introductory article on them here. I researched other, more complex articles such as: Nonlinear quantum piston for the controlled generation of vortex rings and soliton trains, Macroscopic Quantum Tunneling of Solitons in Bose-Einstein Condensates, and Spontaneous creation of Kibble-Zurek solitons in a Bose-Einstein condensate.
So the book tries to be as "hard" science fiction as I can possibly manage. I think all the concepts can at least be investigated more and the extrapolations have a logical base. At least, I hope they do: that is what I have always been aiming for.