Synopses & Reviews
The author of Zero
and Alpha and Omega
elucidates the next big thing in science information theory.
As Charles Seife reveals in this energetic new book, information theory, once the province of philosophers and linguists, has emerged as the crucial science of our time, shedding new light on the mysteries of physics, the nature of space and time and the creation and destruction of the universe itself.
With his gift for making cutting-edge science accessible and entertaining, Seife explains how theorists came to understand that information is not a construct of the mind but a fundamental element of the physical world, something that sits inside every living cell and surrounds every black hole in the cosmos. It exists, like energy, even if there is no life to observe it. Starting with the breaking of the Enigma code during World War II and building momentum with the computer revolution, information theory has taken its place at the forefront of theoretical physics as scientists begin to use it to reconcile the paradoxes of relativity and quantum mechanics that have puzzled theorists since Einstein. Lucid and exhilarating, Decoding the Universe probes the mind-boggling advances that are taking us to the brink of a new understanding of the universe.
"In a book that's all but impossible to put down, science journalist Seife (Alpha and Omega) explains how the concepts of information theory have begun to unlock many of the mysteries of the universe, from quantum mechanics to black holes and the likely end of the universe. Seife presents a compelling case that information is the one constant that ties all of science, indeed all of the universe, together. His skill with language permits him to do what many have tried and few have accomplished making complicated concepts of quantum mechanics accessible to the average reader. Seife demonstrates how quantum oddities so alien to classical physics actually are consistent with the same physical laws that govern the world we see. For example, the fact that entangled particles half a universe away can instantaneously communicate with one another (what Einstein called 'spooky action' at a distance), apparently violating the law that nothing can exceed the speed of light, can be understood through information theory. Seife takes all of this to a most bizarre, but logical, conclusion reached by many cosmologists: the universe as we know it is but one of an infinite number of universes, all brought into being through information transfer." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An excellent popular science author, Seife opens with the history of thermodynamics and the equation of entropy....Challenging but rewarding fare..." Booklist
"Seife...packs a lot of intellectual depth into accessible language, and he keeps the narrative conversational. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries." Library Journal
Lucid and exhilarating, this volume probes the mind-boggling advances in science that are bringing mankind to the brink of a new understanding of the universe, the mysteries of physics, and the nature of space and time.
The author of Zero explains the scientific revolution that is transforming the way we understand our world
Previously the domain of philosophers and linguists, information theory has now moved beyond the province of code breakers to become the crucial science of our time. In Decoding the Universe, Charles Seife draws on his gift for making cutting-edge science accessible to explain how this new tool is deciphering everything from the purpose of our DNA to the parallel universes of our Byzantine cosmos. The result is an exhilarating adventure that deftly combines cryptology, physics, biology, and mathematics to cast light on the new understanding of the laws that govern life and the universe.
About the Author
Charles Seife, a journalist with Science magazine, has also written for New Scientist, Scientific American, The Economist, Wired UK, and The Sciences, among many other publications. His previous titles include Alpha and Omega and Zero. He received an MS in probability theory and artificial intelligence from Yale.