Customer Reviews


17 Reviews
5 star:
 (13)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very lucid approach to a difficult subject.
I'm not a math-physics type person really. More of a math-physics wanna-be! Because I have more of a verbal/visual than a math mind, I avail myself of every opportunity to read books on quantum and relativity physics that are written for that type of reader. Two of my on-line friends, Steve and Roger, both recommended Paul Davis' books, and I found Matter Myth an...
Published on March 30, 2001 by Atheen M. Wilson

versus
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Update needed!
I agree with the majority of reviewers that this is an excellent book, making some very difficult concepts understandable to the layman. The book was published in 1992, and I bought the October 2007 edition. It is a pity that so much data in the book are outdated: Dark matter is hardly mentioned, and there is no reference to dark energy; the age of the universe is given...
Published on May 16, 2008 by Anton Smit


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very lucid approach to a difficult subject., March 30, 2001
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm not a math-physics type person really. More of a math-physics wanna-be! Because I have more of a verbal/visual than a math mind, I avail myself of every opportunity to read books on quantum and relativity physics that are written for that type of reader. Two of my on-line friends, Steve and Roger, both recommended Paul Davis' books, and I found Matter Myth an extraordinary example of the genre.
Davis and his coauthor, John Gribbin, begin their book with a discussion of Newtonian physics and the 17th Century concept of a "clockwork universe." In this approach to the physical world, every event in the universe might conceivably be predicted given a thorough knowledge of initial conditions. The success with which Newtonian physics described the behavior of the macroscopic world gave rise to a philosophy of materialism that gripped the thinking of succeeding centuries. Davis and Gribbin see the rise of relativity and quantum physics, with the concepts of chaos, uncertainty and virtual particles, as an antidote for the stultifying effects of grim determinism. The attempts to make the two theories compliment one another and the efforts to unify the four primary forces in nature (strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravity) in an all encompassing theory are viewed as setting the stage for a universe where free will in fact has some place.
The book also discusses the string theory and small particle physics, both of which help cosmologists gain some insight into the beginning of the universe, its likely history, and its ultimate end. It also discusses some of the theories regarding parallel universes and anti-universes. The authors also discuss time and its nature, but the interested reader might prefer Davis' book About Time, which goes into the subject in greater depth.
Although The Matter Myth is listed as a religious apologia, in fact there is very little about religion or god in the book. The discussion of multiple words in association with the uncertainty principle and the famous Shrodinger's Cat thought experiment certainly leaves it open to assume the need for an ultimate "observer," but the authors themselves seem to adhere to the scientific position that such an observer is non-testable and therefore outside the realm of scientific investigation. They certainly do not espouse any particular religious outlook.
This is an altogether engrossing volume for anyone interested in the subject. It's very readable; enough so that even someone with very little knowledge of the topic would be able to understand the clearly written descriptions of the scientific concepts. At least three people at work, two nurses and a nursing assistant, after a casual perusal of the contents asked to read the book when I've finished it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Update needed!, May 16, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Matter Myth: Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge Our Understanding of Physical Reality (Paperback)
I agree with the majority of reviewers that this is an excellent book, making some very difficult concepts understandable to the layman. The book was published in 1992, and I bought the October 2007 edition. It is a pity that so much data in the book are outdated: Dark matter is hardly mentioned, and there is no reference to dark energy; the age of the universe is given as 'about 15 billion years', and I quote from page 174: 'The expansion rate (of the universe) is inexorably slowing.' Unfortunately, outdated concepts like these undermine the credibility of the book on the whole. I hope the authors review the book soon.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Postmechanistic Paradigm, February 22, 2000
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Davies and Gribbin succeed in clarifying some of the most intriguing questions known to mankind, such as "How did spacetime come into existence?", "How can matter appear out of nowhere?", "Does the future already exist?", and "How does spacetime curve?" They delve into fascinating reasons why your `now' and my `now' are not necessarily the same thing, and many other exciting implications for our everyday lives from quantum physics. What I love most about THE MATTER MYTH is the way it helps free our thinking from the mechanical, machine-mindedness which has for so long dominated western thinking... as its authors eloquently assert that materialism is dead. The post-mechanistic paradigm is here.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Peek Behind the Veil, July 22, 1998
By A Customer
My sense of wonder was engaged from the outset with this book. I did my BSc in physics some years back. I never guessed that the boring old men teaching us about modern physics had managed to take away so much of the scintillating and engaging philosophical ramifications of what we were learning.
The writing style is engaging and very clear. I highly recomend this book for students of physics seeking to get more than the nuts and bolts of their discipline.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aging paradigms crumble beneath the 'new' physics., March 20, 2002
By 
Issues regarding nonlinear phenomena and systems, as well as quantum physics, string theory, and philosophy of science are examined.
Physicists Davies and Gribbin, two of sciences most prolific writers, discuss the reasons for the impending death of the materialist paradigm which took an almost absolute grip on the philosophy of science immediately after the publication of Newton's Principia. In fact they state that (whether or not it is widely recognized) the reductionists' "mechanistic" paradigm is now dead. "It is fitting that physics -- the science that gave rise to materialism -- should also signal the demise of materialism. ...the new physics has blown apart the central tenets of materialist doctrine in a sequence of stunning developments. ...in the abstract wonderland of the new physics it seems that only mathematics can help us to make sense of nature."
The problem is not that mechanistic Newtonian science is "wrong" but rather that it addresses only a limited representation of actual truth. The book also contains excellent descriptions of things like white dwarfs, neutron stars, and the difficulties in developing a quantum theory of gravity. Theories of wormholes, strings, and GUTs are well presented. The final chapter indulges in speculation about "exotic (non-carbon based, non-DNA based) biologies" -- which the authors concede should not be taken seriously -- and about the difficulties with ideas of "spontaneous generation" and "extra-terrestrial intelligence". The authors proceed to set aside their own cautions and speculate on these ideas, making the final chapter an exercise in science fiction. Otherwise a very good book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not at the level of Gribbin's other books, February 12, 2002
By A Customer
John Gribbin as usual has written an insightful book that analyses new findings in physics in a big-picture sort of way, digesting them and making them comprehensible to the reader. Here he (along with Paul Davies) focus on the colourful world of quantum mechanics and its implications for the meaning of "matter," or lack thereof.
The basic idea in a nutshell is that the indeterminism of the quantum physics, combined with the inherent spreading of the schrodinger wave, means that the notion of fixed, set-piece, unchanging "matter" is misleading. It's an updating that sheds light on the nature of matter and casts doubt on the notion of a cast-iron, predetermined state of affairs and lifeless matter that seem to have been assumed since the 1600s. The book's main problem is its attempt to branch into cosmology, it does not mesh well with the rest of the book and the speculation in this area does not fit in with the taut, well-organized writing that characterises the rest of it. But the book is still worth reading-- simply make sure to read In Search of Schrodinger's Cat and Schrodinger's Kittens in addition, to see prime examples of Gribbin's writing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO MACHINE, October 17, 2006
The first chapter of this book is entitled "The Death of Materialism," and the final line of the book concludes that Gilbert Ryle was right to dismiss Descartes' "ghost in the machine," "not because there is no ghost, but because there is no machine." The matter myth has maintained that reality consists of material particles flying around in a void as they are affected by forces. With the advent of chaos theory, physicists now maintain that the stuff of the universe possesses an innate tendency to self-organize, which at least hints at the possibility of a teleological universe. It is interesting that it is the physicists who are positing the notion that consciousness might be an innate property of existence, and the prominent life scientists are we are nothing but gene and meme machines.

I realized upon reading this book that old notions never die, they just spiral upward. Had Planck called the particles of energy emitted by a hot body "phlogistons" instead of "quanta," then we might very well study "phlogiston mechanics." A phlogiston has at least as much in common with a quantum as the modern atom has with the atom of Dalton. And Aristotle's rejection of the existence of vacuum in favor of the notion that dense matter was vortices in the plenum is essentially correct. "Vacuum" is replete with energy, and virtual particles, and matter is thought to be warped space. Now perhaps entelechy will be revived in a modern form.

As a teacher of IB Theory of Knowledge, I have found THE MATTER MYTH an excellent book for high school students with an interest in science but still at a rudimentary level of knowledge. The first chapter gives a clear explanation of just exactly what is meant by Kuhn's paradigm shift, and the book as whole provides a lively, readable account of cutting-edge of science and its relation to philosophical ideas.

(Peter Payne, author of CAPTAIN CALIFORNIA BATTLES THE BEELZEBUBIAN BEASTS OF THE BIBLE)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unreal!, April 12, 2005
By 
Robert Haven (Eugene, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This is an excellent book that clearly presents the current theories of physics. This is so interesting (and not hard to understand at this high-level presentation), it should be on the reading list of anyone who has the slightest curiousity about our universe; about the reality he or she perceives. What I find most interesting, between this book and a couple others, is how bizarre the theories are getting. It seems to me that physics has edged up against philosophy and is approaching the point where science will no longer be able to provide answers to the remaining big questions. Maybe the answers to those questions will forever remain philosophical or religious because science can't get there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matter and substance., January 9, 2003
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If somebody is interested in modern physical theories about 'matter', he should read this book. It is written in a clear and very understandable vocabulary.
The main items in this book are the transformation of matter in waves and/or particles in the quantum theory, or its replacement by weird excitations and vibrations in the quantum field theory.
But he will also find good explanations of other phenomena, like the Kaluza-Klein space, the mathematical foundation of anti-matter, the not so empty empty space, the not so present present, the flowing or not flowing time, the disappearance of time, superstrings and chaos theory.
A further must read is the book of Brian Greene 'The elegant universe'.
Not to be missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, January 4, 2004
By 
Luigi (NY United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Simply an awesome book. Only reason I don't give it 5 stars is because some explanations are not as straightforward as they should be. Overall: VERY GOOD!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Matter Myth: Dramatic Discoveries that Challenge Our Understanding of Physical Reality
$19.99 $17.70
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.