Perhaps it's a harbinger of the end of science that so much attention is being paid to the impossible. In Impossibility
, astronomer John D. Barrow outlines a maturation pattern for areas of deep human inquiry that includes an adolescence of exciting discoveries, new formulas, and unusual predictions. As science has matured, our confidence in it has grown. We expect that science has answers, that its predictive powers are mostly accurate. But what happens when the science gets old? Oddly enough, it seems to have started trying to find the end of its own usefulness--its formulas "predict that there are things which they cannot predict, observations which cannot be made, statements whose truth they can neither affirm nor deny."
Barrow's book is a fairly tough read, delving into topics as varied as theology, art, mathematics, and cosmology in its quest to define impossibility. But for those who have noticed that, "Scientists seem no longer content merely to describe what they have done or what Nature is like; they are keen to tell their audience what their discoveries mean for an ever-widening range of deep philosophical questions," Impossibility is an intriguing look at the evolution of our thoughts on knowing everything. Without limits, there would be no science, and though our imaginations may roam freely through the realms of impossibility, we may find in the end that "what cannot be known is more revealing than what can." --Therese Littleton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"[An] illuminating, well-written account....One can only wonder how Barrow can possibly make all these [concepts] fit together into a coherent story about the limits to science. Well, contrary to all expectations, he does make them fit, and in only 250 pages! So for about as good an account as youre going to get of where science stops, read this book."--Nature
"Delightful and fascinating....Impossibility
is a thoughtful, careful, and insightful book that is presented in a skillfully woven narrative, guiding the reader gently through the thicket of logic, physics, and mathematics.... If you are fascinated by the limits of knowledge, you will be richly rewarded by this book."--Michio Kaku, New Scientist