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More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon Paperback – September 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-9814350136 ISBN-10: 9814350133 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9814350133
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814350136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Philip W Anderson is the doyen of present-day condensed matter physics, and has written widely and provocatively on many subjects both within and without the discipline.This collection of his essays is guaranteed to instruct, amuse and in some cases annoy readers irrespective of their specialist backgrounds." --Anthony Leggett, Nobel Laureate

"This is that rare book which may stimulate the reader into seeing the future, present and past of science in a new light. Philip Anderson is not only the most influential and original scientist in the second half of the 20th century in condensed matter physics, but also happens to be one who thinks deeply and broadly, and writes beautifully and vividly. It is of inestimable value especially to those curious about the scientific enterprise and possibly interested in contributing to it. The book title is a twist on an Andersonian phrase which has become a modern mantra." --T V Ramakrishnan, Banaras Hindu University, India

"Phil Anderson has made many wonderful contributions to physics, often illustrating his favorite theme of how more is different. I am sure readers of diverse interests will enjoy this book and learn much from it." --Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

"Anderson has put together an entertaining and instructive collection of highly readable reviews, columns, talks, and unpublished essays on science and the scientists he has known. He is rarely inappropriately provocative, and he is a pleasure to read". --Physics Today

"Phil Anderson has made many wonderful contributions to physics, often illustrating his favorite theme of how more is different. I am sure readers of diverse interests will enjoy this book and learn much from it." --Edward Witten, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Jogalekar VINE VOICE on February 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Philip Anderson is one of those rare species - a scientist who is not only world-class in his own field but who seems capable of saying something interesting about virtually every topic under the sun. His career at Bell Labs overlapped with the lab's most illustrious period and apart from his prizewinning work in solid-state physics, Anderson has made groundbreaking contributions to at least two other diverse fields - particle physics and the epistemology of science. In this book he holds forth on a wide variety of subjects ranging from postmodernism to superconductivity. The chapters consist of book reviews, commemorative essays, transcripts of talks, opinion pieces and a variety of other writings over the past five decades. In every chapter there are at least a few rather deep statements which deserve close scrutiny.

The book is roughly divided into three parts. The first part details Anderson's views on the history and philosophy of science including his own field - solid-state physics. The second part talks about Anderson's reminiscences and thoughts on his scientific peers, mostly in the form of book reviews that he has written for various magazines and newspapers. The third part deals with science policy and politics and the fourth is dedicated to "attempts" (in Anderson's own rather self-effacing words) at popularizing science.

Some of the chapters are full of scientific details and can be best appreciated by physicists but there's also a lot of fodder for the layman in here. A running thread through several essays is Anderson's criticism of ultra-reductionism in science which is reflected in the title of the book, "More and Different".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bavaruspex on March 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Prof. Anderson chooses his title very well: "More and different". It alludes to an old but exceedingly influential paper of his where he points out that from a single copper atom to a hunk of metal (= "more"), is a long, long road with lots of fundamentally new (= "different") governing physics along the way, which decidedly is not contained in the physics of the individual atom. His book is equally appropriately subtitled: "Notes from a thoughtful curmudgeon". As for the "curmudgeon" part: in this hypocritical age of political correctness (political two-facedness, really) a refreshingly down to earth honest opinion might seem confrontational to some, but it's like a large glass of ice lemonade on an oppressively hot summer day to others (me included). Of course, being a heavy weight amongst Nobel Prize winners (the "thoughtful"! part) lends an authority to Prof. Anderson's views that most of us other physicists lack.
The first section of the book is about the authors' reminiscences of his years at the then iconic Bell Labs, and with it the development of modern theoretical solid state physics and the theory of superconductivity. I cannot imagine that a non-physicist gets much out of this, but for the rest of us, this is a very interesting read, even if superconductivity is not your specialty.
Much of the rest of the book essentially consists of a collection of essays and book reviews that those who read Physics Today regularly will likely remember. In the intervening years I had actually read many of the books he reviewed (by coincidence, not by design) and I find particularly his opinions on string theory so very satisfying, because my far lesser mind came to much the same conclusions.
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Format: Paperback
The title of Anderson's book is a slight modification of his article "More is Different" published in the August 4-th 1972 issue of Science. There, like inside the book, the themes of emergence and broken symmetry were discussed. It is unfortunate that this 1972 article is not included in this book which collects several pieces (or notes) written by Anderson throughout a time span of more than 40 years. Emergence, however, surfaces in several places throughout the book. My impression, however, is that besides pinpointing the importance of emergence in science and society while contrasting it to the overwhelming concept of reductionism, the author does not possess or propose a theory of emergence. What emerges by reading the book is that localization, a concept proposed by the author to explain the transition between classical conductors (where electrons diffuse freely) and semiconductors (where electrons are localized in the 3D material itself). A serious attempt to put emergence on solid feet has been done by J.H. Holland in his book "Emergence" (1998) which, however, is not discussed in Anderson's book.
I enjoyed several of the books reviews that Anderson wrote throughout the years although to appreciate them one should have read those books. I was struck when reading that he listened with disbelief (page 219) the Nobel lecture of Ilya Prigogine (both Prigogine and Anderson received the Nobel prize in 1977, the former for chemistry and the latter for physics) on dissipative structures. Very naively, Anderson states that only real "condensed" structures (proteins, minerals, tables) are those that matter for science whereas structures such as those investigated by Prigogine do not.
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