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Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature Paperback – February 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0679744085 ISBN-10: 0679744088 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679744088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679744085
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Weinberg's quest for a final explanation of the laws of nature displays a scientist's sense of wonder and an artist's love of beauty.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In his celebrated book The First Three Minutes (Basic, 1977; 1988, reprint) Nobel laureate Weinberg wrote the ominous and oft-quoted remark "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless." This book can be seen as his response to that remark after 15 years of reflection and scientific progress. Weinberg writes with great hope and clarity about the possibility that science can find a universal theory uniting the laws of nature into a single statement that is mathematically, philosophically, and aesthetically complete. His writing is technical in places, and some of the first-person narratives come off as less than humble, but overall Weinberg offers excellent insights on how such a theory could be realized and what it would mean. Especially engaging are his chapters, "Beautiful Theories" and "What About God?" Other books have been written on this subject (e.g., Paul Davies's Superforce , LJ 11/15/84; John Barrow's Theories of Everything , Oxford Univ. Pr., 1991; and Barry Parker's Search for a Supertheory , Plenum, 1987), but Weinberg's is likely to have the highest demand. Highly recommended.
- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Libs.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Autodidact Andy on September 18, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
Cogent objective & informative glimpse towards "Final Laws"
This is a review of both the printed book & the fabulous book on tape. I discovered that the narrated unabridged (7 cassettes) book on tape is available after I read the printed book cover to cover. I quickly bought a copy & have since listened it more times than I can recall! The narrator's voice is pleasant to listen to. His voice come across clear, brisk & very articulate. The whole wonderful experience keeps my attention riveted & gratefully takes my mind off the infamous Southern California traffic during my hours long commute each day. There's always something different & interesting that captivates my attention each time I experience this great book. Keep in mind that I'm a veritable compulsive-obsessive autodidactic with a fanatical drive to understand physical reality at the most fundamental level - call me a PRE (Physical Reality Explorer). I don't have a formal "higher" education or the mathematical tools to speak the technical language - but, like I said, I'm a fanatical layman who's bent on understanding what the hell is REALLY going on "out there" - or "in there" as the case may be...
Well, back to the book! You don't really need a deep understanding of mathematics or even an understanding of Quantum Physics to "get" what this book has to offer. Shoot, for that matter, maybe having an "empty cup" would make the experience of this book all the better! So, what's in the book? Glad you asked! Here's a brief table of contents with a few (parenthetical) comments:
· Preface
· Prologue
· On a Piece of Chalk (great introduction to some basic principles in Atomic Theory)
· Two Cheers for Reductionism ("...I am not an uncompromising reductionist, I'm a compromising reductionist!
Read more ›
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Arvan Harvat on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
A seedy book by a Nobel laureate (I guess I couldn't have avoided this) over which readers often violently divide. The reasons are as follows: for physicists, Weinberg expounds good, but (to them) already known physics (quantum mechanics, chunks of cosmology) overladen with amateurish musings on philosophy and metaphysics (even aesthetics). For lay(wo)men (no pun intended) the book is sometimes heavy going (lots of names, abstract concepts, frequently scholastic dilemmas). On the strong side: I would highly recommend this work to the interested amateur as a historical tour through the elementary particles physics (bits of cosmology added). During this voyage, a reader will become well acquanited with virtually all that matters in contemporary high energy physics. Although not a basic read, it is completely non-mathematical. Just- it requires persistence to absorb and "digest" a multitude of interrelated concepts in this historical narrative on the unfoldment of modern physicist's "worldview". On the weak side: Weinberg's frequent forays into philosophy, theology and politics are not too rewarding, or enlightening (except as an intriguing exposure of modern scientistic mind). Nevertheless: this absorbing story of 20th century physical ideas and controversies leaves one with a good feeling: " That's how modern physics was made and how it casts spell over its inammoratos".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Panda on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is very easy to read, perhaps the easiest I have read on the subject. It is intended for the lay persons and is completely free of formulas, complicated concepts and tortuous reasonings. Maybe I would have liked that the author went into deeper explanations on some topics.

I personally liked Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics (Princeton Science Library) and Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics much better, since they contained more detailed explanations on several topics. In Fearful symmetry the author devoted the entire book to the intrinsic beauty of physical laws and its formulations.

I found Mr. Weinberg's chapter "what about God" to be one of the best essays on religion/atheism and science that I have read, since he expresses his ideas in a thoroughly respectful manner and without complicated philosophical thesis.

Throughout this book you perceive the author's sadness, anger and frustration at the cancellation of the SCC project and at the way funding is assigned to the various projects in the US. Although I share his feelings, I would have preferred to share with him his passion for physics instead of his sadness about a postponed dream of a final theory. I know that unfortunately "lobbying" is essential for getting funds for pure research, but in a way, I prefer to think of scientists as never minding such "earthly" things.

I believe the author wrote this book to open more people's minds about the importance of this project and I truly wish he succeeds with it, because it seems that what started as a beautiful dream of a truth revealing accelerator, ended as a frustrating nightmare in front of an empty tunnel.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. head on April 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dreams of a final theory

I believe this book's main propose was the Author, a Nobel prize winning physicist attempting to weigh in for Congressional funding of the Superconducting Super- Collider (SSC). This book is like reading two books in one. The first part of the book had some very good writing about atomic particle research and excellent explanations of the experiments. It also contains the author's surprisingly optimistic view that the theories being currently developed are the beginning of the correct path that will lead science to the "final theory". The remainder of the book is a promotion of the field of particle physics to show that by reduction all the sciences can benefit and share in what is learned in particle physics. Chemistry, Biology, etc at their lowest levels operate at an atomic level. Also some philosophical musings. The author has a knack for explaining complicated ideas for the layman.
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