Tag Archives: cosmology

Re: The Grand Design

Despite the marquee name of Stephen Hawking (and Leonard Mlodinow) on the cover, The Grand Design reads at best like a sketchy version of a cosmology book. The lack of bibliography should have been a warning. It begins with quite a salvo: On the first page, it declares that philosophy is dead as a means to answer the deep questions. Then it asks deep philosophical questions about the nature of the laws of physics.

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Re: Anathem

If you read cosmology books for fun, you’ll have plenty of fun reading Anathem, by Neil Stephenson. It also helps if you like wordplay, language, and philosophy. I liked this book so much I was actually a bit relieved that I didn’t fall in love with it, because a 900 page book could mean some serious sleep deprivation.

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Re: The Self-Aware Universe

Like Programming the Universe, I got one key idea from The Self-Aware Universe, by Amit Goswami: that the probabilistic realm of quantum potentia is the same thing as the unitive consciousness of mystic experience. Unlike the Dancing Wu-Li Masters, this book conveys a good introduction to both quantum mechanics and the unitive consciousness. I just had a problem crossing the synapse between them.

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GTFH: The universe

The most interesting parts of God: The Failed Hypothesis is not what the book has to say about god, but about science and morality (which I’ll save for a post next week.) In chapters four and five, the book tackles why there is something rather than nothing, and why our something is the way it is.

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God: The Failed Hypothesis

I like messing around with God, or gods, or Cosmic Muffins, but that doesn’t mean I believe in any sort of god. So I was interested in seeing how God: The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor J. Stenger would apply the methods of science to the hypothesis that God exists. Like The Fabric of Reality, it sparked a lot of response in me, so much I’m going to write another two-parter. First, let’s see the broad shape of the book’s disproof of God.

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The Fabric of Reality – Part II: What I didn’t like

As I mentioned last week, The Fabric of Reality is a thought-provoking book, but sometimes it’s just provoking. The book spends too much time blasting away at theories that aren’t useful and misrepresenting theories that are commonly accepted, not enough time crossing over some of its logical leaps, and no time at all discussing valid alternatives. But it makes up for it at the end by a leap into science fiction.

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The Fabric of Reality – Part I: The Good Stuff

Back in June, I wondered how long it would take me to read The Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch. Well, it took just about a week. This is not a book to tackle at the end of the day. The book is so challenging, it’s physically tiring to read and think about and react to. That’s why I have a lot I want to say, but since I can’t stand long blog posts, I’m going to divide my response into two parts: what I like and what I don’t. First, the good stuff.

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A quick note about The Big Rip

Today’s episode of Quirks & Quarks ends with a discussion of The Big Rip, the driving idea behind “Last Contact.” And I’m trying to write an inchoate story about Mars, so I was also interested in their discussion of the Phoenix Lander, due to land on Mars next Sunday.

Re: Cosmic Jackpot

A good book you might wish you had read before tackling “The House Beyond Your Sky,” is Cosmic Jackpot. In clear, entertaining arguments, Paul Davies works his way through the various flavors of theories attempting to explain the “Goldilocks” problem. That is, there are a small set of critical constants that have to be within extremely narrow ranges to make life in this universe possible, and since there is life in this universe, all those constants are just right. And nobody has a good explanation for this tautology.

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Re: The House Beyond Your Sky

Some science fiction reads like popular science writing dressed up in story. “The House Beyond Your Sky,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum, is a story you really can’t understand unless you already know some science. The references to cosmology–like simulated universes and critical constants–go completely unexplained. And you know what? I like being treated as an adult.

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