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End of Physics : The Myth of a Unified Theory Unknown Binding – 1993


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1ST edition (1993)
  • ASIN: B003L222U0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
For those readers who were attracted to Tim Ferris's "Shebang", "The End of Physics" should provide a more realistic view of the problems in cosmology and particle physics. Although it was written 1992, it is still up to date in every way and in my opinion a better book than "Shebang" for the popular science reader. Ferris is more positive in outlook, less sceptical of the scientific process. Lindley claims more of an insider's view, is more comfortable with the math and and is able to take on some of the really difficult concepts by describing memorable visual models that will be very useful for anyone who may later attempt such uneven attempts at cosmology as Guth's new book on Inflation. Lindley's work trying to describe Higgs fields and quantum mechanics is especially brave. I only wish this book had the kind of budget that would have allowed more diagrams where they were needed(one point off)and it was so well written it could easily have been longer (another point off).However, the strength of the book is in the wise way he describes the scientific-theoretical process itself. In his view, the current theories lack the observational and experimental evidence that we normally expect from the scientific theories, scientists have embraced these theories because they can be so easily adjusted without ever being refuted.We have reached a watershed,perhaps, not an End of Physics where the lack of data may condemn the entire effort to an exercise that may never bear any relationship to reality. It is also very well written.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reader From Aurora on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
David Lindley's The End of Physics is yet another excellent addition to the growing list of outstanding physics books. Lindley is a long time editor of Science magazine and accomplished author.

The book is a lucid and well-written text that provides an overview of recent developments in theoretical physics as well as an examination of what these developments mean. I found the author's discussion of general relativity and inflation to be particularly well handled - better than is often the case in these types of works. Lindley's exception strength, however, is his discussion of contemporary theoretical developments.

The quest for a comprehensive "Theory of Everything" has become the Holy Grail of modern physics. The meaning of any such theory, however, has not been the subjected of much popular discussion. Cutting-edge theoretical physics are complex and inundated with esoteric mathematical constructs. These formulations appear to be driven in large part by mathematical expediency rather than empirical evidence; resulting in models seem excessively contrived and ad hoc in nature. Variables appear to be arbitrarily adjusted to account for unwanted variance - leaving something that looks like a modern version of Ptolemy's universal model (a complex intellectual constructs that bare little resemblance to reality).

The only shortcoming of the book is its lack of a more direct discussion of philosophical issues pertaining to science. For instance, do mathematical and scientific theories represent reality in some "real" way or are they largely just useful metaphorical constructs. It has been my experience that scientific realism and an associated narrow verificationist view of truth are often unchallenged assumptions of philosophical modernism.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bryce Wisan on September 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Are the cosomologists correct, or is it the particle physicists? Does quantum theory really invalidate Einstein's deterministic universe? Is the concept of a 26-dimensional universe credible, or are we as enamored with numerology as those in times of yore? Can science provide us with more than a myth about the creation of the universe? Each new discovery seems to beg more questions.
The essence of this book is the tension that Lindley so magically captures--the tension between ideas, between scientists, and between philosophies. Lindley enthusiastically relates the drama; he catches the spirit and the excitement of discovery, as well as anxiety over some difficult unknowns.
This book is a thrilling ride through some of the most captivating intellectual territory of the 20th century. Do not be put off by the complex nature of the subject matter; this is one of the most accessible science books that I have read. The energy of the ideas certainly outweighs the challenges presented by the difficult subject matter.
This book is a great read for passionate learners.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By x_gamma on February 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My opinion of this book is quite different from some of the other reviewers. This book is neither a skeptical anti-science nor bizarre anti-Mormon rant. Rather, by considering the history of particle physics and cosmology Lindley shows again and again that scientific theories are only myths at best, unless they are backed up with solid emperical evidence. This evidence comes via experiments.
Lindley does not say a "Theory of Everything" is impossible, he simply states that if a "Theory of Everthing" is going to have any meaning, it must be testable through emperical experiments, just like any other theory which science accepts as the best explaination of a given phenomena.
In other words, hard work and imagination have gotten science this far and it needs to be applied again in this particular endeavor. There are no shortcuts. Though the book is probably a little dated now, it still provides an excellent format for one to recieve an introduction to particle physics and cosmology. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
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