highly recommended for all citizens interested in science
Why did it take so long—two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics—for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe?
In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument.
Like such classic works as Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Knowledge Machine grapples with the meaning and origins of science, using a plethora of vivid historical examples to demonstrate that scientists willfully ignore religion, theoretical beauty, and even philosophy to embrace a constricted code of argument whose very narrowness channels unprecedented energy into empirical observation and experimentation. Strevens calls this scientific code the iron rule of explanation, and reveals the way in which the rule, precisely because it is unreasonably close-minded, overcomes individual prejudices to lead humanity inexorably toward the secrets of nature.
“With a mixture of philosophical and historical argument, and written in an engrossing style” (Alan Ryan), The Knowledge Machine provides captivating portraits of some of the greatest luminaries in science’s history, including Isaac Newton, the chief architect of modern science and its foundational theories of motion and gravitation; William Whewell, perhaps the greatest philosopher-scientist of the early nineteenth century; and Murray Gell-Mann, discoverer of the quark. Today, Strevens argues, in the face of threats from a changing climate and global pandemics, the idiosyncratic but highly effective scientific knowledge machine must be protected from politicians, commercial interests, and even scientists themselves who seek to open it up, to make it less narrow and more rational—and thus to undermine its devotedly empirical search for truth.
Rich with illuminating and often delightfully quirky illustrations, The Knowledge Machine, written in a winningly accessible style that belies the import of its revisionist and groundbreaking concepts, radically reframes much of what we thought we knew about the origins of the modern world.
In very recent times humanity has learnt a vast amount about the universe, the past, and itself. But through our remarkable
successes in acquiring knowledge we have learned how much we have yet to learn: the science we have, for example, addresses just
5 per cent of the universe; pre-history is still being revealed, with thousands of historical sites yet to be explored; and the
new neurosciences of mind and brain are just beginning.
What do we know, and how do we know it? What do we now know that we don't know? And what have we learnt about the obstacles to knowing more? In a time of deepening battles over what knowledge and truth mean, these questions matter more than ever. Bestselling polymath and philosopher A. C. Grayling seeks to answer them in three crucial areas at the frontiers of knowledge: science, history and psychology. A remarkable history of science, life on earth, and the human mind itself, this is a compelling and fascinating tour de force, written with verve, clarity and remarkable breadth of knowledge.
Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) was one of the most important philosophers of all time; he was also one of the most radical and controversial. The story of Spinoza's life takes the reader into the heart of Jewish Amsterdam in the seventeenth century and, with Spinoza's exile from Judaism, into the midst of the tumultuous political, social, intellectual, and religious world of the young Dutch Republic. This new edition of Steven Nadler's biography, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award for biography and translated into a dozen languages, is enhanced by exciting new archival discoveries about his family background, his youth, and the various philosophical, political, and religious contexts of his life and works. There is more detail about his family's business and communal activities, about his relationships with friends and correspondents, and about the development of his writings, which were so scandalous to his contemporaries.
Centuries ago, the principle of Ockham’s razor changed our world by showing simpler answers to be preferable and more often true. In Life Is Simple, scientist Johnjoe McFadden traces centuries of discoveries, taking us from a geocentric cosmos to quantum mechanics and DNA, arguing that simplicity has revealed profound answers to the greatest mysteries. This is no coincidence. From the laws that keep a ball in motion to those that govern evolution, simplicity, he claims, has shaped the universe itself. And in McFadden’s view, life could only have emerged by embracing maximal simplicity, making the fundamental law of the universe a cosmic form of natural selection that favors survival of the simplest. Recasting both the history of science and our universe’s origins, McFadden transforms our understanding of ourselves and our world.
Albert Einstein claimed that his work was built on previous work done by James Clerk Maxwell so how is it that very few modern people are familiar with Maxwell's name or is accomplishments?
highly recommended for all computer nerds also interested in astronomy
highly recommended for all computer nerds also interested in astronomy
highly recommended for all modern citizens
Carl Sagan died on 1996-12-20 and I thought I had read everything he published. I just (2020-12-23) stumbled onto this gem after I watched Ann give this interview ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F6H_V0pSfc ). It is material originally published for the Gifford Lectures (Scotland) in 1985. I will enjoy reading this book over the Christmas holidays.
The Gifford Lectures centre on what's called "Natural theology". The term applies to using scientific methods to support theology. One can only hope that by 1985, the members of the audience knew of Sagan's thinking prior to his emergence on stage. From the opening lecture, "Reconnaissance of Heaven", Sagan strips away old mythologies relating how the cosmos worked. In nine lectures and a following question and answer session, he reveals the scope and workings of our universe that science has revealed. The key factor, of course, is "evidence". What we have learned about the world around us is derived from centuries of hard work by dedicated workers. The effort, performed in small, but incremental steps, has revealed a universe over 14 billion years old. It is populated by more galaxies than there are stars in our Milky Way, with each of those cosmic gatherings themselves populated by their own billions of stars. Yet, with all those fantastic numbers, Sagan reminds us, there is a uniformity among that host of fiery orbs. Sodium here is the same as that at the edge of our perception. Organic molecules, without which life could exist nowhere, are present everywhere. What are the odds that we humans are the sole intelligent life? Extraterrestrial life and the implications arising from that possibility, form a sub-theme of the series. From the suggestion that so many stars exist, it naturally follows that many of them have planets, some of which ought to be capable of hosting life, perhaps even intelligent life. It's only logical that such life would also seek who might be residing as cosmic neighbours. Sagan explains the famous Drake Equation, which postulated the odds of such life existing. It hasn't been found, he admits, but that's no reason not to search for it. In his lectures, he supposes that in other places, intelligent life might last millions of years. That life might - ought - to be well in advance of ours. Furthermore, he contends, what does such life imply for our concept of a god who fashioned us and our beliefs? Is it rational, he asks, to think a universe as vast as ours should be initiated, let alone controlled, by a human-devised supernatural being? Before an audience interested in nature and theology, Sagan posits a new concept of a god. Not one with supernatural powers and dabbling in affairs of a single species on a remote planet, but something different. This deity should represent the expanse and complexity of the universe we are only beginning to understand. He explains how older versions of deities hampered scientific investigation - they're still doing so. A new, less defined and more open concept of the spiritual aspect of the universe is in order. Entirely new religious experiences can derive from redefining our relationship to the universe, one more realistic and, in Sagan's view, much grander and more fulfilling. This concept, of course, underlies the book's title. By adapting William James' highly insightful, if less informed, work of human religiosity, Ann Druyan, Sagan's wife and collaborator, gave a "tip of the hat" to that earlier collection. "The Varieties of Religious Experience", a previous Gifford Lectures series, also sought a broadened sense of spiritual values. James' work needed little "updating", but Druyan offers some examples of what has been learned in the two decades since her husband's lectures to fill in meaningful details. Sagan would have applauded, since each new bit of information buttresses his case. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
science lover's "must have"
This thought-provoking book seems to have been read by almost every scientist, technologist, and engineer. I just purchased a hard-cover reproduction from Amazon for the tiny sum of $14 (how did anyone make any money on this one?)
Starting in the 1950s, US physicists dominated the search for elementary particles; aided by the association of this research
with national security, they held this position for decades. In an effort to maintain their hegemony and track down the elusive
Higgs boson, they convinced President Reagan and Congress to support construction of the multibillion-dollar Superconducting
Super Collider project in Texas—the largest basic-science project ever attempted. But after the Cold War ended and the estimated
SSC cost surpassed ten billion dollars, Congress terminated the project in October 1993. Drawing on extensive archival research,
contemporaneous press accounts, and over one hundred interviews with scientists, engineers, government officials, and others
involved, Tunnel Visions tells the riveting story of the aborted SSC project. The authors examine the complex, interrelated
causes for its demise, including problems of large-project management, continuing cost overruns, and lack of foreign
contributions. In doing so, they ask whether Big Science has become too large and expensive, including whether academic
scientists and their government overseers can effectively manage such an enormous undertaking.
comment: the initial budget for Ronald Regan's Strategic Defense Initiative was set between 400-800 billion dollars (ref) so I fail to see how 10 billion dollars was anyone's concern. Perhaps this is the beginning of the austerity movement.
A highly recommended page-turner purchased from a used-book vendor in 2020
Excerpt from the Preface: Theoretically, Carlo Rubia and his colleagues are engaged in the time-honored occupation, the pursuit of pure knowledge. Their work is probably more closely related to that of philosophers or, in some obvious ways, theologians than anything else. Unlike their brethren in solid state or nuclear physics, the work of the high-energy physicist has no practical uses. It does, however, produce spin-offs. When, in the 1860s, James Clerk Maxwell proposed that electricity and magnetism were two aspects of the same force and propagated through space in waves, what resulted was more than just that bane of freshman physics majors known as Maxwell's equations. Among the future spin-offs would be numbered eclectic lights and radios and television sets. Later, the pin-offs from this physics were to include such items as atom bombs and X-ray machines and computer technology.
Comments: this book begins with the first big collider built at CERN in 1971 called ISR
(Intersecting Storage Rings). If you ever wondered about the energy differences between "fixed-target particle accelerators" vs.
"beam colliders" then this is the book for you. This author continually mentions the SSC
(superconducting super collider) which was under construction at the time in Texas but cancelled by Congress in 1993. While
doing a little poking around in 2020 I stumbled on this 2012 article by Steven Weinberg talking about the crisis in big
science: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/05/10/crisis-big-science/ .
Excerpt: One thing that killed the SSC was an undeserved reputation for
over-spending. Projected costs did increase, but the main reason was that, year by year, Congress never supplied sufficient
funds to keep to the planned rate of spending. This stretched out the time and hence the cost to complete the project. Even
so, the SSC met all technical challenges, and could have been completed for about what has been spent on the LHC,
and completed a decade earlier.
And then I stumbled onto this article from 2013: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-supercollider-that-never-was/
Excerpt p152: Rubbia made two points in his after-dinner speech. He talked about the American plans for the Superconducting Super Collider and, as Cline related it, "Carlo said that building the SSC is harder than going to the moon" which the Americans didn't like. And secondly, there should be a collaboration with Europe, intellectually, if not otherwise which they also didn't like. So his after dinner speech didn't go very well
Jennifer Ouellette never took math in college, mostly because she-like most people-assumed that she wouldn't need it in real life. But then the English-major-turned-award-winning-science-writer had a change of heart and decided to revisit the equations and formulas that had haunted her for years. The Calculus Diaries is the fun and fascinating account of her year spent confronting her math phobia head on. With wit and verve, Ouellette shows how she learned to apply calculus to everything from gas mileage to dieting, from the rides at Disneyland to shooting craps in Vegas-proving that even the mathematically challenged can learn the fundamentals of the universal language.
quote: I think scientists have a valid point when they bemoan the fact that it's socially acceptable in our culture to be utterly ignorant of math, whereas it is a shameful thing to be illiterate.
Galileo’s story may be more relevant today than ever before. At present, we face enormous crises—such as the minimization of the dangers of climate change—because the science behind these threats is erroneously questioned or ignored. Galileo encountered this problem 400 years ago. His discoveries, based on careful observations and ingenious experiments, contradicted conventional wisdom and the teachings of the church at the time. Consequently, in a blatant assault on freedom of thought, his books were forbidden by church authorities. Astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio draws on his own scientific expertise to provide captivating insights into how Galileo reached his bold new conclusions about the cosmos and the laws of nature. A freethinker who followed the evidence wherever it led him, Galileo was one of the most significant figures behind the scientific revolution. He believed that every educated person should know science as well as literature, and insisted on reaching the widest audience possible, publishing his books in Italian rather than Latin. Galileo was put on trial with his life in the balance for refusing to renounce his scientific convictions. He remains a hero and inspiration to scientists and all of those who respect science—which, as Livio reminds us in this gripping book, remains threatened even today.https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/galileo-battle-science-denial/
page 221: From his mental pictures, Maxwell coined three expressions that eventually became universal currency - curl, divergence and gradient, the last two usually abbreviated to div and curl. Maxwell originally proposed "convergence" and "slope", and, in his Treatise, replaced curl with the more formal "rotation", but, in essence, all the terms have stood the test of timecomments: most people reading this will be aware of The Royal Society (of London) which was founded in 1660 to promote science. This book was the first time I learned of The Royal Institution (of London) and "City Philosophical Society" (of London) which where science promoters for the working and poorer classes. Michael Faraday was a famous lecturer at both. highly recommended for all modern citizens
James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis and the greatest environmental thinker of our time, has produced an astounding new theory about future of life on Earth. He argues that the Anthropocene - the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale technologies - is, after 300 years, coming to an end. A new age - the Novacene - has already begun. New beings will emerge from existing artificial intelligence systems. They will think 10,000 times faster than we do and they will regard us as we now regard plants - as desperately slow acting and thinking creatures. But this will not be the cruel, violent machine takeover of the planet imagined by sci-fi writers and film-makers. These hyper-intelligent beings will be as dependent on the health of the planet as we are. They will need the planetary cooling system of Gaia to defend them from the increasing heat of the sun as much as we do. And Gaia depends on organic life. We will be partners in this project. It is crucial, Lovelock argues, that the intelligence of Earth survives and prospers. He does not think there are intelligent aliens, so we are the only beings capable of understanding the cosmos. Maybe, he speculates, the Novacene could even be the beginning of a process that will finally lead to intelligence suffusing the entire cosmos. At the age 100, James Lovelock has produced the most important and compelling work of his life.
NSR comments: This well written and easily digestible book may be as pivotal for humanity as Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" but there is a problem: it was written by a nerd (Lovelock) for nerds (scientists, engineers, technicians, computer programmers, students). Non-nerds (especially those people whose primary interest is in sports, finance, politics, religion and war) will be tone-deaf to the topics within. But all is not lost. Nerds created the imperfect internet-based world in which everyone now lives so it is up to the nerds to educate everyone else. It is impossible to Make America Great Again in the context espoused by politicians since it would mean going back to a previous era (did not work for the Luddites)
Quote from page 116: It is horrific that our leaders, almost all of whom are wholly ignorant of science and engineering, are encouraging the development of fill-this-blank. Their ignorance is compounded by an inability to reject the advice of lobbyists whose sole aim seems to be to profit from whatever can be made to seem an environmental hazard.
Reading this biography is a pure joy but it is not totally devoid of science; many modern scientists are quoted. The book weighs in at 675 pages with almost 100 of them source references.
|ix||Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.|
|16||"I never failed at mathematics," he replied, correctly, "Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus"|
|159||Einstein tried to persuade Adler to focus on science rather than be enticed into politics. Adler ignored him which caused Einstein to write: "How an intelligent man can subscribe to a [political] party I find a complete mystery"|
|170||"the quantum hypothesis is provisional" and that it "does not seem compatible with experimentally verified conclusions of the wave theory"|
|335||Like Baruch Spinoza, Einstein did not believe in a
personal God who interacted with man. But they both believed that divine design was reflected in the elegant laws that
governed the way the universe worked.
comment: this makes both men, as well as most of America's founding fathers, deists. Click here to learn more: www.deism.com
|367||Even a genius like Schopenhauer was crushed by employment, Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.|
|371||Question: Do science and religion conflict? Einstein Answered: Not really, though it depends, of course, on your religious views"|
|379||Einstein was a humanist, socialist, and a democrat. He was completely anti-totalitarian, no matter whether it was Russian, German or South American. He approved of a combination of capitalism and socialism. And he hated all dictatorships of the right or left.|
|381||Despite his association with the Zionist cause, Einstein's sympathies extended to the Arabs who were being displaced by the influx od Jews into what would eventually be Israel. His message was prophetic: "Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering. If the Jews did not assure that both sides live in harmony", he warned friends in the Zionist movement, "the struggle would haunt them for decades to come".|
Without calculus, we wouldn’t have cell phones, computers, or microwave ovens. We wouldn’t have radio. Or television. Or ultrasound for expectant mothers, or GPS for lost travelers. We wouldn’t have split the atom, unraveled the human genome, or put astronauts on the moon. We might not even have the Declaration of Independence. It’s a curiosity of history that the world was changed forever by an arcane branch of mathematics. How could it be that a theory originally about shapes ultimately reshaped civilization? The essence of the answer lies in a quip that the physicist Richard Feynman made to the novelist Herman Wouk when they were discussing the Manhattan Project. Wouk was doing research for a big novel he hoped to write about World War II, and he went to Caltech to interview physicists who had worked on the bomb, one of whom was Feynman. After the interview, as they were parting, Feynman asked Wouk if he knew calculus. No, Wouk admitted, he didn’t. “You had better learn it,” said Feynman. “It’s the language God talks.”https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/the-language-of-calculus/ highly recommended for all modern citizens
Introduction: WOULDN’T IT BE HELPFUL if everyone were able to think more clearly? To tell the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lies? But what is truth? Is the difference between “truth” and “untruth” always that simple? In fact, is it ever that simple? If it is, why do people disagree with each other so much? And if it isn’t, why do people ever agree with each other at all? The world is awash with terrible arguments, conflict, divisiveness, fake news, victimhood, exploitation, prejudice, bigotry, blame, shouting, and miniscule attention spans. When cat memes attract more attention than murders, is logic dead? When a headline goes viral regardless of its veracity, has rationality become futile? Too often, people make simple and dramatic statements for effect, impact, acclaim, and to try and grab some limelight in a world where endless sources are competing relentlessly for our attention all the time. But the excessive simplifications push us into fabricated black and white situations when everything is really in infinite shades of gray and indeed multi-colors. Hence we seem to live with a constant background noise of vitriol, disagreement, and tribes of people attacking other tribes, figuratively if not for real. Is all hope lost? Are we doomed to take sides, be stuck in echo chambers, never agree again? No. There is a lifebelt available to anyone drowning in the illogic of the modern world, and that lifebelt is logic. But like any lifebelt, it will only help us if we use it well. This means not only understanding logic better, but also understanding emotions better and, most importantly, the interaction between them. read more...
NSR Comments: If you are like me, and are tired of the current round of political divisiveness where politicians refute arguments by shouting "fake news" then this book is for you. Even if you do not read the book, please listen to these interviews with Eugenia Cheng:
Whether pondering black holes or predicting discoveries at CERN, physicists believe the best theories are beautiful, natural, and elegant, and this standard separates popular theories from disposable ones. This is why, Sabine Hossenfelder argues, we have not seen a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics for more than four decades. The belief in beauty has become so dogmatic that it now conflicts with scientific objectivity: observation has been unable to confirm mindboggling theories, like supersymmetry or grand unification, invented by physicists based on aesthetic criteria. Worse, these "too good to not be true" theories are actually untestable and they have left the field in a cul-de-sac. To escape, physicists must rethink their methods. Only by embracing reality as it is can science discover the truth.
NSR comments: the author properly points out that the work of theoretical physicists must be validated by experimental physicists in order for any hypothesis to be promoted to a theory. So why are some theoretical physicists making scientific pronouncements about certain topics for which an experiment has not yet been done, or will never be done? What follows are some lightly paraphrased quotes from cosmologist George Ellis describing the current situation humanity finds itself in
Light of the Stars tells the story of humanity’s coming of age as we awaken to the possibilities of life on other worlds and their sudden relevance to our fate on Earth. Astrophysicist Adam Frank traces the question of alien life and intelligence from the ancient Greeks to the leading thinkers of our own time, and shows how we as a civilization can only hope to survive climate change if we recognize what science has recently discovered: that we are just one of ten billion trillion planets in the Universe, and it’s highly likely that many of those planets hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations. What’s more, each of those civilizations must have faced the same challenge of civilization-driven climate change. Written with great clarity and conviction, Light of the Stars builds on the inspiring work of pioneering scientists such as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, whose work at the dawn of the space age began building the new science of astrobiology; Jack James, the Texas-born engineer who drove NASA’s first planetary missions to success; Vladimir Vernadsky, the Russian geochemist who first envisioned the Earth’s biosphere; and James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who invented Gaia theory. Frank recounts the perilous journey NASA undertook across millions of miles of deep space to get its probes to Venus and Mars, yielding our first view of the cosmic laws of planets and climate that changed our understanding of our place in the universe.
What a treat. This book's title might make you think that this book is only about Einstein, or his special theory of relativity, but you would be wrong.
This is a landmark in science writing. It resurrects from the vaults of neglect the polymath Jerome Cardano, a Milanese of the sixteenth century. Who is he? A gambler and blasphemer, inventor and chancer, plagued by demons and anxieties, astrologer to kings, emperors and popes. This stubborn and unworldly man was the son of a lawyer and a brothel keeper, but also a gifted physician and the unacknowledged discoverer of the mathematical foundations of quantum physics. That is the argument of this charming and intoxicatingly clever book, which is truly original in its style, and in the manner of the modernists embodies in its very form its theories about the world. The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook is a science book with the panache of a novel, for readers of Carlo Rovelli or Umberto Eco. It is a work of and about genius.
caveat: nothing to do with astrology
This book humorously shows that scientific progress does not move in a straight line. Each one of the five scientists covered (Charles Darwin, William Thompson (a.k.a. Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein) published errors after their initial huge contribution to science.
Chapter 2 - Paragraph 1 (excerpt)
When the fuzzy indeterminacy of quantum mechanics overthrew the orderly world of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger were at the forefront of the revolution. Neither man was ever satisfied with the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics, however, and both rebelled against what they considered the most preposterous aspect of quantum mechanics: its randomness. Einstein famously quipped that God does not play dice with the universe, and Schrödinger constructed his famous fable of a cat that was neither alive nor dead not to explain quantum mechanics but to highlight the apparent absurdity of a theory gone wrong. But these two giants did more than just criticize: they fought back, seeking a Theory of Everything that would make the universe seem sensible again.
Official Blurb from the Publisher: Jon Butterworth is one of the leading physicists at the Large Hadron Collider and is Head of Physics and Astronomy at University College London. He writes the popular Life & Physics blog for the Guardian and has written articles for a range of publications including the Guardian and New Scientist. For the last 13 years, he has divided his time between London and Geneva, Switzerland
I purchased this book last month in the foyer of the Perimeter Institute of Physics (in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) after the author's lecture. On first glance it appeared to be just another general book on science with emphasis on particle physics, but for me turned out to be much more. I have (I think) a reasonable "layman's understanding" of colliers and quantum mechanics but this book added to my knowledge by delivering numerous anecdotes (here I am using that word to mean "depicting small narrative incidents") which would only be possible from an author with first-hand experience of particle physics in general and the LHC in particular. As the author says himself, "this is not a textbook" but he has not been shy in placing a tiny amount of maths in the subscripts at the bottom of each page for the science nerds who want a little more information. Many people might wish to read this book just to learn why scientific research is so important. Jon Butterworth is, after all, an educator as well as experimentalist.
In case you hadn't guessed, the most wanted particle is the Higgs Boson. I bought this book after attending a lecture by the author at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. Watch the video here: https://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/videos/most-wanted-particle
The author's presentation reminded me of other "great explainers in science" like Carl Sagan. He also showed slides of CERN's FCC (future circular collider) which is a working name for EuroCirCol H2020 project. Explore here: https://fcc.web.cern.ch and here: https://fcc.web.cern.ch/Pages/About.aspx (diagram showing FCC being 80-100km long which is 3-3.5 times longer than the LHC).
Einstein and the Quantum reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein's contributions to quantum theory. Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice. But, in fact, he thought more about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light--the core of what we now know as quantum theory--than he did about relativity.
A compelling blend of physics, biography, and the history of science, Einstein and the Quantum shares the untold story of how Einstein--not Max Planck or Niels Bohr--was the driving force behind early quantum theory. It paints a vivid portrait of the iconic physicist as he grappled with the apparently contradictory nature of the atomic world, in which its invisible constituents defy the categories of classical physics, behaving simultaneously as both particle and wave. And it demonstrates how Einstein's later work on the emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led directly to Erwin Schrödinger's breakthrough to the modern form of quantum mechanics. The book sheds light on why Einstein ultimately renounced his own brilliant work on quantum theory, due to his deep belief in science as something objective and eternal.
A book unlike any other, Einstein and the Quantum offers a completely new perspective on the scientific achievements of the greatest intellect of the twentieth century, showing how Einstein's contributions to the development of quantum theory are more significant, perhaps, than even his legendary work on relativity.highly recommended for citizens. Should be required reading by all first-year secondary school students
The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country—all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line. To shed light on this darkness, Donald R. Prothero explains the scientific process and why society has come to rely on science not only to provide a better life but also to reach verifiable truths no other method can obtain. He describes how major scientific ideas that are accepted by the entire scientific community (evolution, anthropogenic global warming, vaccination, the HIV cause of AIDS, and others) have been attacked with totally unscientific arguments and methods. Prothero argues that science deniers pose a serious threat to society, as their attempts to subvert the truth have resulted in widespread scientific ignorance, increased risk of global catastrophes, and deaths due to the spread of diseases that could have been prevented.
[Bethe was] the supreme problem solver of the twentieth century. (Freeman Dyson)
Nuclear Forces is a carefully researched, historically and biographically insightful account of the development of a profession and of one of its leading representatives during a century in which physics and physicists played key roles in scientific, cultural, political, and military developments. (David C. Cassidy, Author Of A Short History Of Physics In The American Century )
Schweber's account of Hans Bethe's life through his Nobel Prize-winning 1938 work on energy generation in stars reveals the origins of a charismatic scientist, grounded in the importance of his parents and his Jewish roots...[Schweber] recreates the social world that shaped the character of the last of the memorable young scientists who established the field of quantum mechanics. (Publishers Weekly 20120507)
A detailed and thoroughly researched study of Bethe's development as a scientist and as a human being...Schweber has trawled [Bethe's] correspondence [with Rudolf Peierls], together with Bethe's voluminous archive, with the finest of gauzes, and the result is a richly detailed picture of his life. Schweber tells it with compassion and admiration, although Nuclear Forces is no hagiography…This is a deeply rewarding book…[It's] an insightful account of how Hans Bethe became, in the constellation of 20th-century physicists, one of its most luminous stars. (Graham Farmelo Times Higher Education 20120614)
Nuclear Forces is a highly readable account of a remarkable period in physics, tracing the future Nobel laureate through his formative years and up to the eve of World War II. (Manjit Kumar Wall Street Journal 20120713)
Nuclear Forces, by the distinguished physicist Silvan Schweber, tells the story of the first three decades of Bethe's life and career, up to the time of his Nobel Prize–winning work on nuclear reactions in stars. But the book offers much more besides, with a history of the development of physics—atomic, solid-state and nuclear—in the first third of the twentieth century, and of the institutions in which Bethe worked. Schweber's analysis of the physics is the book's great strength. (Frank Cose Nature 20120628)
Schweber, a physicist and historian of physics, provides an engaging account of the life of Hans Bethe...The book essentially ends just before the beginning of WW II. It gives the intellectual, cultural, and scientific background needed to understand Bethe's scientific work and his advocacy for control of nuclear weapons after the war. (M. Dickinson Choice 20121201)
From one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, a rousing defense of the role of science in our lives The latest developments in physics have the potential to radically revise our understanding of the world: its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive its operation. Knocking on Heaven's Door is an exhilarating and accessible overview of these developments and an impassioned argument for the significance of science.science lover's "must have"
Quantum theory is weird. As Niels Bohr said, if you aren't shocked by quantum theory, you don't really understand it. For most people, quantum theory is synonymous with mysterious, impenetrable science. And in fact for many years it was equally baffling for scientists themselves. In this tour de force of science history, Manjit Kumar gives a dramatic and superbly written account of this fundamental scientific revolution, focusing on the central conflict between Einstein and Bohr over the nature of reality and the soul of science. This revelatory book takes a close look at the golden age of physics, the brilliant young minds at its core, and how an idea ignited the greatest intellectual debate of the twentieth century.
Physicist Richard Feynman has a reputation as a bongo-playing, hard-partying, flamboyant Nobel Prize laureate for his work on quantum electrodynamics theory, but this tends to obscure the fact that he was a brilliant thinker who continued making contributions to science until his death in 1988. He foresaw new directions in science that have begun to produce practical applications only in the last decade: nanotechnology, atomic-scale biology like the manipulation of DNA, lasers to move individual atoms, and quantum engineering. In the 1960s, Feynman entered the field of quantum gravity and created important tools and techniques for scientists studying black holes and gravity waves. Author Krauss (The Physics of Star Trek), an MIT-trained physicist, doesn't necessarily break new ground in this biography, but Krauss excels in his ability, like Feynman himself, to make complicated physics comprehensible. He incorporates Feynman's lectures and quotes several of the late physicist's colleagues to aid him in this process. This book is highly recommended for readers who want to get to know one of the preeminent scientists of the 20th century.
Lots of neat stuff, but here is some material from chapter 17
A few months back I was routing through an box of old paperbacks when I rediscovered "Science, Numbers and I". It was too fragile to handle but brought back lots of good memories so I used www.bookfinder.com to locate used hardcover copies of:
What a pleasure to reread. I didn't encounter any errors but found the description of "Neutron Decay" in "Science, Numbers and I" a little anachronistic since there was no mention of a down quark turning into an up quark. However, that level of detail was probably beyond the scope of a popular science book at that time. The third book titled "Please Explain" does contain three short essays involving quarks.
An entertaining memoir about the peculiar and competitive world of modern physics.
John W. Moffat was a poor student of math and science. That is, until as a young man in the early 1950s in Copenhagen he read Einstein's famous paper on general relativity and Einstein's current work seeking a unified theory of gravity and electromagnetism. Realizing that he had an unusual and unexplained aptitude for understanding complex physics and mathematics, Moffat wrote two papers based on Einstein's unified field theory. Soon, he found himself being interviewed by Denmark's most famous physicist, Niels Bohr, and giving a seminar on unified theory at the Niels Bohr Institute. When he faced derision and criticism of Einstein's current research by the audience of physicists at the Bohr Institute, Moffat went home and wrote a letter to Einstein that would change the course of his life. Einstein replied to Moffat and they exchanged a series of letters in which they discussed both technical matters relating to the scientific papers and their views on the current state of physics. This correspondence led to Moffat being interviewed by influential physicists in Britain and Ireland, including Erwin Schrödinger. Their recommendations resulted in Moffat being enrolled in the PhD physics program at Trinity College, Cambridge, the first student in the College's 400-year history to be enrolled without an undergraduate degree.
Moffat and Einstein did not continue their correspondence, as the great man died shortly after Moffat began his studies. However, Moffat continued, over the next fifty years, to modify and expand on Einstein's theory of gravity.
Einstein Wrote Back tells the story of Moffat's unusual entry into the world of academia and documents his career at the frontlines of twentieth-century physics as he worked and studied under some of the greatest minds in scientific history, including Niels Bohr, Fred Hoyle, Wolfgang Pauli, Paul Dirac, Erwin Schrödinger, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Abdus Salam, among others.
Taking readers inside the classrooms and minds of these "giants" of modern science, Moffat affectionately exposes the foibles and eccentricities of these great men, as they worked on the revolutionary ideas that, today, are the very foundation of modern physics and cosmology.
A history of experimental particle physics (particle accelerators to colliders) from Ernest Rutherford to the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). This book also contains some shocking information about how and why the SSC (Superconducting Super Collider) was shut down after $2 billion was already spent and 13 miles of tunnel was already dug.
|Albert the Great||Father of Geology|
|Roger Bacon||Father of Chemistry|
|Gregor Mendel||Father of Genetics|
|Christopher Clavius||"second Euclid" of the renaissance|
|Angelo Secchi||father of Astrophysics|
|Georges Lemaitre||father of the Big Bang theory|