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Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universeby Lee Smolin
Synopses & Reviews
In this groundbreaking book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that physics and#151; the basis for all other sciences and#151; has lost its way. For more than two centuries, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly. But today, despite our best efforts, we know nothing more about these laws than we knew in the 1970s. Why is physics suddenly in trouble? And what can we do about it?
One of the major problems, according to Smolin, is string theory: an ambitious attempt to formulate a and#147;theory of everythingand#8221; that explains all the particles and forces of nature and how the universe came to be. With its exotic new particles and parallel universes, string theory has captured the publicand#8217;s imagination and seduced many physicists.
But as Smolin reveals, thereand#8217;s a deep flaw in the theory: no part of it has been tested, and no one knows how to test it. In fact, the theory appears to come in an infinite number of versions, meaning that no experiment will ever be able to prove it false. As a scientific theory, it fails. And because it has soaked up the lionand#8217;s share of funding, attracted some of the best minds, and effectively penalized young physicists for pursuing other avenues, it is dragging the rest of physics down with it.
With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin charts the rise and fall of string theory and takes a fascinating look at what will replace it. A group of young theorists has begun to develop exciting ideas that, unlike string theory, are testable. Smolin not only tells us who and what to watch for in the coming years, he offers novel solutions for seeking out and nurturing the best new talentand#151;giving us a chance, at long last, of finding the next Einstein.
One of our foremost thinkers and public intellectuals offers a radical new view of the nature of time, and explores its implications for everything from physics and cosmology to economics and climate change.
In the successor to his provocative bestseller The Mind of God, the cosmologist Paul Davies tackles another big question: Why does the universe seem so well suited for life? One popular explanation is the and#8220;multiverse theory,and#8221; which sounds like it came straight from a science fiction plot. It posits that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes--each slightly different. Only in those rare universes where things are accidentally and#8220;just rightand#8221; for life could observers emerge to puzzle over the fact.
In The Goldilocks Enigma, Davies ponders this and other seemingly bizarre answers to the grand question of existence. He offers lucid descriptions of the science behind these theories and delights in their philosophical implications. Once again, Davies invites us to think about the cosmos and our place within it in new and thrilling ways.
In this illuminating book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics — the search for the laws of nature — losing its way. Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the publicand#8217;s imagination — and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Yet these speculations dominate the field, attracting the best talent and much of the funding and creating a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing other avenues. As Smolin points out, the situation threatens to impede the very progress of science. With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of the troubles that face modern physics — and an encouraging view of where the search for the next big idea may lead.
The Goldilocks Enigmaand#160;is Paul Daviesand#8217;s eagerly awaited return to cosmology, the successor to his critically acclaimed bestseller The Mind of God. Here he tackles all the "big questions," including the biggest of them all: Why does the universe seem so well adapted for life?
In his characteristically clear and elegant style, Davies shows how recent scientific discoveries point to a perplexing fact: many different aspects of the cosmos, from the properties of the humble carbon atom to the speed of light, seem tailor-made to produce life. A radical new theory says itand#8217;s because our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, each one slightly different. Our universe is bio-friendly by accident — we just happened to win the cosmic jackpot.
While this "multiverse" theory is compelling, it has bizarre implications, such as the existence of infinite copies of each of us and Matrix-like simulated universes. And it still leaves a lot unexplained. Davies believes thereand#8217;s a more satisfying solution to the problem of existence: the observations we make today could help shape the nature of reality in the remote past. If this is true, then life — and, ultimately, consciousness — arenand#8217;t just incidental byproducts of nature, but central players in the evolution of the universe.
Whether heand#8217;s elucidating dark matter or dark energy, M-theory or the multiverse, Davies brings the leading edge of science into sharp focus, provoking us to think about the cosmos and our place within it in new and thrilling ways.
andquot;If you are looking for a bracing alternative vision of physics built from the ground up, Smolin's Time Reborn will take you to the mountaintop.andquot; andmdash; NPR
What is time?
Itandrsquo;s the sort of question we rarely ask because it seems so obvious. And yet, to a physicist, time is simply a human construct and an illusion. If you could somehow get outside the universe and observe it from there, you would see that every moment has always existed and always will. Lee Smolin disagrees, and in Time Reborn he lays out the case why.
Recent developments in physics and cosmology point toward the reality of time and the openness of the future. Smolinandrsquo;s groundbreaking theory postulates that physical laws can evolve over time and the future is not yet determined. Newtonandrsquo;s fundamental laws may not remain so fundamental. Time Reborn serves as a popular primer and investigation of time, both what it is and how the true nature of it impacts our world.
andquot;He challenges not only Einsteinandrsquo;s relativity, but also the very notion of natural laws as immutable truths.andquot; andmdash; Economist
andldquo;One of the essential books of the twenty-first century . . . Smolin provides a much-needed dose of clarity about time, with implications that go far beyond physics to economics, politics, and personal philosophy.andrdquo; andmdash; Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget
About the Author
Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who has made influential contributions to the search for a unification of physics. He is a founding faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His previous books include The Trouble with Physics, The Life of the Cosmos and Three Roads to Quantum Gravity.
Table of Contents
PART I THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION 1: The Five Great Problems in Theoretical Physics 3 2: The Beauty Myth 18 3: The World As Geometry 38 4: Unification Becomes a Science 54 5: From Unification to Superunification 66 6: Quantum Gravity: The Fork in the Road 80
PART II A BRIEF HISTORY OF STRING THEORY 7: Preparing for a Revolution 101 8: The First Superstring Revolution 114 9: Revolution Number Two 129 10: A Theory of Anything 149 11: The Anthropic Solution 161 12: What String Theory Explains 177
PART III BEYOND STRING THEORY 13: Surprises from the Real World 203 14: Building on Einstein 223 15: Physics After String Theory 238
PART IV LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE 16: How Do You Fight Sociology? 261 17: What Is Science? 289 18: Seers and Craftspeople 308 19: How Science Really Works 332 20: What We Can Do for Science 349
Notes 359 Acknowledgments 372 Index 375
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