As with the work that Wertheim has done through her Institute for Figuring, Physics on the Fringe affirms that there is room in this world for knowledge seekers of all kinds, along the broadest of spectrums. Wisdom can evolve and present itself in many ways – through empirical, mathematically sound, proven processes, and through hands-on aesthetically rich intuitive processes.
A book like this could spark a love of science that might last a lifetime, but even at its base level, it’s a great story. For those who are meeting George for the first time, the book is self-contained and provides enough background so that new readers won’t be perplexed. For those already a fan of the George stories, this new book won’t disappoint.
Zimmer conducts us through a world that possesses many of the qualities of fantasy. For example, we keep track of time, more or less through the medium spiny neurons eavesdropping on the cortex. This could easily be the subject of a ballet by Merce Cunningham and John Cage.
If Hawking and Mlodinow are proved to be utterly wrong within the next decade, then I’m sure that, being the consummate scientists that they are, they will thrill to the answer and accede to those that will have used their theories to step up to the next level. In the meantime, I’m all for cracking the champers and toasting the multiverse. There’s so much more to love.
It would be tempting to look around at the extreme and growing polarities, and persistent poverty so evident in the world today, and shrug. Flannery doesn’t do that, and in fact quite clearly eshews such negative “self-fulfilling prophecies”. Instead he offers a range of solutions from electric vehicles, smart grids, and satellite surveillance of environmental trangressions, along with the suggestion that the ultimate answer lies in governments being willing to cede power for the common good.
So there is little account of the ethical dimensions of a spiritual life, nor of the fact that spiritual yearning can arise out of a dissatisfaction with contemporary modes of living, despair or indeed grief, ‘so often the source of our spirit’s growth’ (Rilke). Rather than, say, through a sense that science’s materialist world-view is inadequate.
The marsupials trekked from the tip of South America (when South America formed a part of the unified continent Gondwana) to the connected landmass that became Australia. There they became the dominant form of animal life in country that had drifted away from their original home. This is a beautiful example of “We have the fossils – you lose.”
Janet Browne shows him to be not only great but huggable. She also as a side benefit gives us an extraordinarily vivid picture of England in the nineteenth century. This is a book of wide appeal and reaches easily across boundaries to celebrate a man of genius who made a major change in our lives and was modest and unassuming in ways that are touching and memorable.
A Brief History of Time is far more than a science book. It’s one of the renaissance books that is so seminal to the notion of who we are, and where we might be in the next fifty years, that it should be required reading for every person from high school on. If that seems like a big ask you’ve got the wrong idea about this book.
With a hefty dose of humour, the reader is encouraged to consider the impact of what we do today on how the future might look. While the book isn’t didactic, and is often jocular, Williams makes it clear that whether or not the human race survives, and in what shape, is something that we have to imagine and work towards.