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Science and Ultimate Reality: Quantum Theory, Cosmology, and Complexity Hardcover – June 7, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521831130 ISBN-10: 052183113X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 742 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052183113X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521831130
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,229,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This preview of the future of physics comprises contributions from recognized authorities inspired by the pioneering work of John Wheeler. His inimitable style of thinking, quirky wit, and love of the bizarre have inspired generations of physicists." Astronomical Society of the Pacific

"This is theoretical physics at its best."
Daniele Oriti, Mathematical Reviews

Book Description

This volume provides a fascinating preview of the future of physics. It comprises contributions from leading thinkers in the field, inspired by the pioneering work of John Wheeler. Quantum theory represents a unifying theme within the book, covering topics such as the nature of physical reality, cosmic inflation, the arrow of time, models of the universe, superstrings, quantum gravity and cosmology. Attempts to formulate a final unification theory of physics are discussed, along with the existence of hidden dimensions of space, hidden cosmic matter, and the strange world of quantum technology. John Archibald Wheeler is one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century. His extraordinary career has spanned momentous advances in physics, from the birth of the nuclear age to the conception of the quantum computer. Famous for coining the term "black hole," Professor Wheeler helped lay the foundations for the rebirth of gravitation as a mainstream branch of science, triggering the explosive growth in astrophysics and cosmology that followed. His early contributions to physics include the S matrix, the theory of nuclear rotation (with Edward Teller), the theory of nuclear fission (with Niels Bohr), action-at-a-distance electrodynamics (with Richard Feynman), positrons as backward-in-time electrons, the universal Fermi interaction (with Jayme Tiomno), muonic atoms, and the collective model of the nucleus. His inimitable style of thinking, quirky wit, and love of the bizarre have inspired generations of physicists.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By BD manager on February 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
well written, although sometimes complex, chapters basically covering the state-of-the-art in cosmology by numerous physics luminaries. I totally disagree with other reviewers assertions that this is a "stealth" creationist tome...since the vast majority of the authors have only presented what is empirical assertions/hypothesis backed up by the latest mathmatics and data, to this point; and many of the authors have no creationist leanings what-so-ever....and BTW, who cares who funds it?...I enjoyed this book.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Rod Ball on April 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was tempted to give only two stars because the book is rather pricey for a collection of articles most of which are freely downloadable from the internet, sometimes in greater depth or detail. However, on their own merits, these are a mixed bag of articles of varying quality that have been roped together to celebrate J.A.Wheelers seminal influence.

Some of the chapters are quite good as far as they go, and roughly speaking the first half of the book on quantum reality is by far the best, after which the standard drops off somewhat. There is quite a bit of whacky nonsense in the latter half, amongst the worst of which is Max Tegmark's loony multiverse chapter which packs in more misinformation, non-sequiturs, faulty logic and sloppy reasoning per paragraph than any piece I have ever come across before purporting to be physics.

Overall, fairly interesting and stimulating but so is browsing the internet where most of this and much more can be found.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
John Archibald Wheeler was born in Jacksonville, Florida in July of 1911. His parents were both librarians. Wheeler initially planned to major in electrical engineering but switched to theoretical physics. His first paper, on the band structure of the monoxides of Scandium, Yttrium, and Lanthinum, appeared when he was only 19. Wheeler obtained his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1933 (his thesis topic was the theory of the dispersion and absorption of helium). After a year at NYU, he spent a postdoctoral year (1934-5) with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. In 1937, while at the University of North Carolina, he introduced the concept of the scattering matrix (called the "S-matrix"), a very useful tool for analyzing elementary particle events. In 1938 he became an assistant professor at Princeton, and soon advanced to a full professorship there. His graduate students included Richard Feynman and Kip Thorne. In 1976, Wheeler went to the University of Texas, where he spent ten years before returning to Princeton as a professor emeritus. In 2005, he still maintained his office in Princeton, on the wall of which hung a sweatshirt with the logo "Which part of quantum theory don't you understand?"

One of Wheeler's ideas was geometrodynamics, in which the entire universe consisted of curved space-time. This led to some colorful comments by Wheeler, such as "Mass without Mass" and "Charge without Charge" (as well some replies such as "Equations without Solutions" and "Theories without Content"). Was there really no matter in the universe? Or didn't it really matter? In any case, the failure of geometrodynamics to explain the existence of fermions or of gravitational singularities eventually got Wheeler to abandon this idea.
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36 of 61 people found the following review helpful By James E. Vancik on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The fact that the science credentials of the contributors to this book are/were impeccable makes this book worth checking out. My question is why at no point in either the reviews or publicity of this book is it not exposed that not only is this book the product of a symposium arranged and paid for by the Templeton Foundation but one editor is a Templeton Foundation employee and another is a Templeton science award winner. While the former should make you want to check out a library copy the latter should be considered before a prospective purchase.
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Science and Ultimate Reality: Quantum Theory, Cosmology, and Complexity
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