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The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – August 25, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0192821478 ISBN-10: 0192821474 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 738 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 25, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192821474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192821478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`an engaging book ... practically a universal education in both the history of modern science and the history of the Universe ... will be much quoted, much debated and much praised' Nature

`a feast: the kind of book which tells you everything you want to know about everything' The Economist

`I was infuriated by it, disagreed with it and loved reading it.' Timothy Ferris, New York Times Book Review

`in the speculative and intellectual richness of its pages, this book is probably unsurpassed' Peter Atkins

`a masterly exposition of what seems bound to become one of the most important developments to have taken place in physical science' TLS

`Intriguing analysis of new scientific thinking.' Sydney Times

`unique and wide-ranging book ... The reader is taken on an eclectic study of many scientific disciplines and is presented with a revealing picture of the structure of the physical world solely in terms of its invariant constants. There are also fascinating chapters on the definition and nature of life, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and the interpretation of quantum theory in relation to the existence of observers.' Europe and Astronomy 1992

`If you get a kick out of cosmic coincidences The Anthropic Cosmological Principle ... is definitely for you. The "anthropic" idea, which is that our very existence may explain why the Universe is the way it is, is an extraordinary one. So too is Barrow and Tipler's account.' New Scientist

About the Author

John D. Barrow is University Lecturer in Astronomy at the University of Sussex, England.
Frank J. Tipler is Professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University, New Orleans.

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Customer Reviews

It might be a bit technical in some areas for many but it makes a great reference book.
Mr. J. H. Allen
The quantum reality interpreted by the many worlds hypothesis where every possible realization of position and energy of every particle exists.
Rama Rao
I have read a lot of science books dealing with cosmology, consciousness, experimental physics, and philosophy.
Brian K. Preston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 93 people found the following review helpful By TAM on September 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Two respected physicists take a chance with their professional reputations by presenting a text that is simultaneously lucid, brilliant, mathematically sound, and honest (gasp!). This is a work in both physics and biology. It centers around the "Anthropic Principle"-roughly, that our existence necessarily puts some constraints on the evolution of the universe. Indeed, as Barrow and Tipler elucidate, these restrictions can be signifigant. As someone privileged to study under the latter physicist, I can personally attest to the convinction with which Tipler adheres to his beliefs, in the face of contemporary animadversion. Most importantly though, underlying this whole work are some very important concerns about philosophy of science (although maybe the authors might reel back at the notion of any sort of "philosophy" in their work). Perhaps this is for you, the future reader, to determine. My highest recommendation.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By galloamericanus on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a revolutionary treatise on cosmology and the fate of the human species. It is frankly the most breathtaking book I have ever read, more exhilarating than Penrose's "Road to Reality" or than related efforts by Victor Stengers, John Barrow writing alone, Lee Smolin, or Eric Chaisson. I agree with the reviewer who asserts that this book's breadth of erudition is astounding. While quite technical in parts, other parts are definitely within the grasp of anyone who learned high school science well and is comfortable with algebra. There is much here beyond physics: chemistry, earth science, and biology. The book also contains a superb and lengthy discussion of many fascinating topics in the history and philosophy of science. This discussion remains valuable regardless of the future evolution of our understanding of cosmology. This is the book John Wheeler would have liked to have written but did not.

Among the suprising topics included in this book are:
*A detailed discussion of the large number coincidences of Eddington and Dirac;
*An extensive discussion of the handful of dimensionless constants that ground modern physics: fine structure (137), ratio of the rest masses of the proton to that of the electron (1836), the coupling constant for gravitation (at most 10^-39), etc;
*An anthropic defense of the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics against the Copenhagen interpretation;
*The most extensive discussion I know of why why our universe has 4 dimensions, 3 of space and 1 of time;
*A chapter on biochemistry and the biosphere.
Read more ›
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Rob on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although this is a very extensive book, covering the Anthropic Cosmological Principle (which in short focuses on the fact that so many aspects of the cosmos and nature are finely tuned to make life possible) in a historical perspective, within cosmology, quantum theory, chemistry and biology, it is definitely not a book for the Layman. It includes a lot of mathematics, which I think should have been included in the references at the end of each chapter. However, when you filter those passages out, and focus on the main points, this book is a must-have and a classic for everyone with an open mind and interest in our place in this universe.

Rob (The Netherlands)
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Charles Rogerson on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have been working my way through this for years. It's one of those books where I have to sit back and think after every half page. I'm in the last chapters and this is one of a few books which have caused me to deeply re-evaluate my philosophy. The first chapters on the history of philosophy and cosmology alone should be required reading for any one serious about philosophy and science. Talk about out-of-the-box, yet rigorous, thinking!! How is it that something so unbelievably improbable as us exists? What are the scientific and cosmological implications of the fact that we actually do exist? Why are most scientists uncomfortable with this book? It challenges their narrow world-view. Why are most engineers I've raised these issues with more open to them than the scientists? Because they, having built real systems, know how astonishing it is that this world exists and they aren't comfortable with the glib answers given by conventional scientific ideology.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Martijn13Maart1970 on September 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a lot to say about this one: I first thought it was a sort of New Age hippie book, but it is not. This book, written by 2 scientist, mainly deals about the question whether the universe is as it is, exactly because we are here to observe it.
This book should be famous but it isnt, wrote one reviewer. I totally agree.
Every chapter you can read separately, therefore you dont have to be an Einstein to catch the full graps of all formula's presented, but each chapter adds more and more you could say evidence that maybe the theory that we are unique really is all too much of a coincidence NOT to be true: I started really sceptical, but in the end I almost had to agree that maybe the universe and us are really connected much more than we think. After all, science is so separated in disciplines now, e.g. we cannot explain biology with physical laws, so we are not really ready yet to fully understand whats going on in the universe, if we ever will. This book gives a nice objective! opinion, with load of interesting facts in all kinds of disciplines that allow you to make up your mind yourself about it. And a a reviewer also said, along the way you get a nice education about science, astronomy, chemistry and biology!
A very good book.
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