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Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation Paperback – Bargain Price, January 31, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The author is a cosmologist in England and his book is the story of his development of an idea, that the velocity of light (the `c' in E = mc-squared) is not constant but has varied during the history of the Universe. His contention is that if the value of c had been enormously greater in the extremely early universe (trillionths of a trillionth, etc., of a second after the start of the Big Bang), that may account for numerous curious attributes of the observable universe, including the so-called "flatness" and "horizon" problems as well as the origin of matter and the nature of Einstein's cosmological constant and the "dark energy" of the universe. Suggesting that the speed of light has not been an eternal constant is such anathema in physics that it is difficult to convey the magnitude of the heresy. It would be comparable to asserting to the Church that Jesus was not divine
I can't comment on the validity of the science or the theory that Magueijo espouses (I don't think that anyone at this point in history can do more than just comment) except to guess that this book will become an eventual classic if VSL becomes widely accepted. Like many of the best writings about scientific progress, this is a first-person view from one of the central participants--THE central participant, if Magueijo's account is accurate.Read more ›
João Magueijo is a cosmologist who values his identity as the somewhat anacharistic outsider, concentrating on alternative theories including his groundbreaking work on one called varying speed of light (VSL) which challenges the basic assumptions of special relativity and inflation. Faster explores João's progress toward the VSL concepts as well as serving as a memoir for his own scientific career (through its publication in 2003).
The first chapters of the book offer some history of various individuals and their theories which are central to any cosmological framework. João's explanation of Alan Guth's work toward establishing inflation as a primary theory in the field is outstanding and one I've not seen delivered better in a work not dedicated to inflation itself. His section and references to Einstein, while not terribly new, were humanizing rather than placing him on a golden pedestal as so many other authors like to do. We get glimpses into the mortal genius who we appreciate even more as a result. The author clearly likes to fancy himself an Einstein-like outsider, the kind who had to work around the system rather than through it. Even though I knew much of the history offered, Magueijo produced an excellent and engaging overview that kept me reading regardless.Read more ›
Unfortunately, very little time in this book is spent on exploring these speculations in any depth, and could probably account for about fifty of its pages. The larger bulk of the work is dedicated to the task of pouring scorn on the peer review system, the administrative structure of scientific institutions and the semi-political and ego-oriented nature of research. One imagines that the pursuit of knowledge was akin to the pursuit of sports, and that a budding scientist had a useful life of only a handful of years before being put out to grass.
The problem is that the book seems to have been written with this as its main driving force, and it reads like an adolescent's list of grievances against his parents. The book is liberally peppered with four letter words, and it is written in a manner which suggests that the author, after years of insults and ill-treatment, is finally getting his own back.
The author has miscalculated very badly in thinking that the general public are at all bothered by this, and hoodwinks them into purchasing a book about such things under the guise of being concerned with VSL.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ten years since this book literally fell into my hands, I continue to recommend and treasure it. Every now and then, I pick it up, open to a random page and enter the maze of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Laurie Perez
This is is a fascinating book on a modern physics speculation which you will enjoy reading.Published 17 months ago by Truett Austin
Very good introduction to relativity and the issues with the Speed of Light.
Highly recommended and readable. Pity about the swearing.
This is my second Magueijo book (A Brilliant Darkness was the first). It's the second time I've been hugely impressed by Magueijo's skills as a popular science writer and -- it... Read morePublished on July 29, 2013 by Librum
This book was a very interesting read for the most part. For me, its strongest element is the description of the academic environment, in this case focused on cosmology in physics... Read morePublished on April 3, 2010 by Berry C. Ives
This is an odd book. Make that two books.
The first 125 pages is a remarkably clear summary, in layman's terms, of relativity, particle physics, cosmology and some of... Read more