Profile for Steven H Propp > Reviews

Browse

Steven H Propp's Profile

Customer Reviews: 10812
Top Reviewer Ranking: 49
Helpful Votes: 11030




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Steven H Propp RSS Feed (Sacramento, CA USA)
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
By Brian Greene - The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (1/30/00)
By Brian Greene - The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (1/30/00)
by Brian Greene
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $18.73

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 448-page 2003 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical probability values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


by Brian Greene The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (text only)[Paperback]2010
by Brian Greene The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (text only)[Paperback]2010
by by Brian Greene
Edition: Paperback
5 used & new from $11.40

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 448-page 2003 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical probability values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


The Elegant Universe
The Elegant Universe
by Erik Davies (Narrator) Brian Greene (Author)
Edition: Audio CD
2 used & new from $999.11

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
This review is from: The Elegant Universe (Audio CD)
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 448-page 2003 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical probability values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 448-page 2003 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical boon Ii in/in Ii bilirubin Ii values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


The Elegant Universe
The Elegant Universe
by Brian Greene
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from $5.61

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
This review is from: The Elegant Universe (Hardcover)
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 448-page 2003 paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical probability values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.94
119 used & new from $2.67

5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCITING EXPOSITION OF SUPERSTRING THEORY, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS, May 5, 2015
Brian Randolph Greene (born 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who is professor at Columbia University and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. He has participated in several PBS television specials, and has also written books such as The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, Icarus at the Edge of Time, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to the second edition [2003] of this 1999 book, “I was… encouraged repeatedly by audiences attending various general-level lectures I’d been giving on relativity, quantum mechanics, and my own speciality---superstring theory---who seemed enthralled by the strange and startling ideas emerging from cutting-edge research… ‘The Elegant Universe’ grew out of those lectures … I wrote ‘The Elegant Universe’ in an attempt to make the remarkable insights emerging from the forefront of physics research accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, especially those with no training in mathematics or physics… I hope this book will crystallize some of the foundational material of modern physics, such as special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, while conveying the contagious excitement of researchers closing in on the long-sought unified theory.” (Pg. ix-x, xiv)

In the first chapter, he outlines, “the hostility between quantum mechanics and general relativity cries out for a deeper level of understanding. Can it really be that the universe at its most fundamental level is divided, requiring one set of laws when things are large and a different, incompatible set when things are small? Superstring theory… answers with a resounding no… Within this new framework, general relativity and quantum mechanics require one another for the theory to make sense… But superstring theory … takes this union one giant step further… String theory has the potential to show that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe … are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation.” (Pg. 4-5)

He explains, “The central concern of this book is to explain the workings of the universe according to string theory, with a primary emphasis on the implications that these results have for our understanding of space and time… the [explanation] given here does not address itself to a theory that has been completely worked out, confirmed by experimental tests, and fully accepted by the scientific community… And so string theory should be viewed as a work in progress whose partial completion has already revealed astonishing insights into the the nature of space, time, and matter.” (Pg. 18)

Later, he suggests, “the simple replacement of point particles with strands of string as the fundamental ingredients of everything has far-reaching consequences. First and foremost, string theory appears to resolve the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics… Second, string theory provides a truly unified theory, since all matter and all forces are proposed to arise from one basic ingredient: oscillating strings. Finally… string theory once again radically changes our understanding of spacetime.” (Pg. 136)

Still, he acknowledges, “In theoretical physics research, one is frequently confronted with equations that are just too hard to understand or to analyze. Typically, physicists …. try to solve the equations approximately. The situation in string theory is even more difficult. Even determining the equations themselves has proved to be so difficult that only approximate versions of them have so far been deduced. String theorists have thereby been limited to finding approximate solutions to approximate equations.” (Pg. 140) He adds, “At the present time… we do not know if the fundamental characteristics of our universe … can be explained by string theory… extracting detailed numerical predictions from the theory is currently beyond our abilities.” (Pg. 147)

Of the “extra dimensions” that string theory proposes, he admits, “the universe may also have additional spatial dimensions that are tightly curled up into a tiny space---a space so tiny that is has so far eluded detection by even our most refined experimental equipment.” (Pg. 188) Later, he adds, “The essential requirement … is that all of these dimensions have a spatial extent smaller than the smallest length scales we can probe, since no experiment has yet revealed their existence.” (Pg. 200)

He also states, “why does string theory require the particular number of nine space dimensions to avoid nonsensical probability values? This is probably the hardest question in string theory to answer without appealing to mathematical formalism. A straightforward string theory calculation reveals this answer, but no one has an intuitive, nontechnical explanation for the particular number that emerges.” (Pg. 203) He asks, “why is it that three space (and one time) dimensions are large and extended while all of the others are tiny and curled up? Why aren’t they ALL extended, or all curled up, or some other possibility in between? At present no one knows the answer to this question. If string theory is right, we should eventually be able to extract the answer, but as yet our understanding of the theory is not refined enough to reach this goal.” (Pg. 204)

He frankly admits, “although string theory has the potential to be THE most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied… physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data… today’s physicists… can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in WRITING the full instruction manual.” (Pg. 211)

He explains M-theory: “M-theory has ELEVEN dimensions (ten space and one time)… string theorists have realized that one additional spatial dimension in string theory---beyond the nine space and one time dimensions… allows for a deeply satisfying synthesis of all five versions of the theory… string theorists have realized that the reasoning… that led to one time and nine space dimensions was APPROXIMATE, and that exact calculations, which can now be completed, show that one spatial dimension had hitherto been overlooked.” (Pg. 287)

He suggests, “Imagine that what we call THE universe is actually only one tiny part of a vastly larger cosmological expanse, one of an enormous number of island universes scattered across a grand cosmological archipelago… [Let’s] call this greatly expanded notion of the universe the MULTIVERSE, with each of the constituent parts being called a universe.” (Pg. 366-367) He continues, “if we now ask… why the forces and particles of nature have the particular properties we observe, a possible answer emerges… What’s special about the particular combination of particle and force properties we observe is that, clearly, they allow life to form. And life, intelligent life in particular, is a prerequisite even to ask the question of why our universe has the properties it does. In plain language, things are the way they are in our universe because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” (Pg. 368)

He concludes, “we can envision that a reframing of the principles of quantum mechanics within string theory may yield a more powerful formalism that is capable of giving us the answer to the question of how the universe began and why there are things such as space and time---a formalism that will take us one step close to answering Leibniz’s question of why there is something rather than nothing.” (Pg. 382) He adds, “No doubt, there are even grander surprises in store for us as we continue to seek a full and calculationally tractable understanding of superstring theory. Already, through studies in M-theory, we have seen glimpses of a strange new domain of the universe … possibly one in which there is no notion of time or space. At the opposite extreme, we have also seen that our universe may merely be one of the innumerable frothing bubbles on the vast surface of a vast and turbulent cosmic ocean called the multiverse.” (Pg. 387)

This challenging, honest, and thought-provoking book will be of great interest to anyone studying string theory, or contemporary cosmological theories.


Cosmological Special Relativity: Structu
Cosmological Special Relativity: Structu
by Moshe Carmeli
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from $39.18

5.0 out of 5 stars AN ISRAELI THEORETICAL PHYSICIST OUTLINES HIS THEORIES, May 4, 2015
Moshe Carmeli (1933–2007) was the Albert Einstein Professor of Theoretical Physics at Ben Gurion University and President of the Israel Physical Society. He is most noted for his work on gauge theory and his development of the theory of cosmological general relativity, which extends Einstein's theory of general relativity from a four-dimensional spacetime to a five-dimensional space-velocity framework. He has written other books such as Relativity: Modern Large-scale Spacetime Structure of the Cosmos, Gauge Fields: Classification and Equations of Motion, Cosmological Relativity: The Special And General Theories For The Structure Of The Universe, Group Theory and General Relativity, Classical Fields: General Relativity and Gauge Theory, etc.

He wrote in the Preface of this 1997 book, “The study of cosmology in recent years has become one of the most important and popular subjects. Cosmological theory connects different fields of research in physics, from elementary particles to the large-scale structure of the Universe… In this monograph we formulate cosmology, in the limit of NEGLIGIBLE gravitational field, as a new special relativity describing the large-scale structure of space, time and velocity in the Universe. The theory unites space and velocity just as Einstein’s special relativity theory does with space and tie. Observers at different placed in the Universe are subsequently related to each other by RELATIVE cosmic times just as those at different inertial systems are related by relative velocities in special relativity.

“Subsequently, the group of cosmological transformations which relate distances and velocities at different cosmic times is derived, and the transformation is written down explicitly… A substantial portion of the book is devoted to special relativity theory, which is presented along the lines of Einstein’s original version. The stress is on the deep meaning of the theory rather than on technicalities, in order to emphasize the analogy to the cosmological special relativity… The whole book is written … so as to enable the nonexpert as well as expert readers to easily understand its content. The book is intended for physicists, astrophysicists, cosmologists, mathematicians, and astronomers.” (Pg. vii-viii)

He summarizes, “The large-scale structure of the cosmos is analysed in detail in this monograph under the assumption that gravitation is NEGLIGIBLE and thus space is flat. A comparison is made between the present-day cosmology and the prerelativistic physics; it is shown that there is an analogy between the structure of space and time as it is understood these days, and the structure of space and velocity in cosmology. The cosmic time takes the role of velocity; observers at different locations in the Universe are related to each other by RELATIVE (rather than absolute) cosmic times, just as observers in different inertial systems are related to each other by relative velocities. As a result, we are able to develop a special relativity theory of cosmology which unites space and velocity, in complete analogy to Einstein’s special relativity theory that unites space and time.” (Pg. 3)

He argues, “As is well known much of the support for the existence of dark matter is due to the observed very high velocities of gas molecules or galaxies. For example galaxies in the far-off Coma cluster are observed whirling around one another faster than the laws of physics would allow. So is the mysteriously rapid rotation of spiral galaxies… the observed velocity by us is not the velocity measured by a local observer at a relative time ‘t’ with respect to us. He measures a smaller velocity, and the more back in time the more the velocity decreases. Does this mean that the hypothetical dark matter can be abolished just as the ‘luminiferous ether’ was proved to be superfluous by special relativity?” (Pg. 23)

He explains, “As observed from the coordinate system K, the clock is moving with the velocity v, and the time which elapses between two of its successive strokes is not one second but … a longer time. Thus the clock goes MORE SLOWLY when it is in motion than when it is at rest. Such a phenomenon is called the ‘dilation of time.’ The same conclusion would have been reached, of course, if the clock was placed in the system K and its time was judged from K’. Again the clock will be seen to run slower. The analogous to this phenomenon in cosmological relativity is, of course, the velocity contraction…” (Pg. 62)

This book is heavily mathematical and somewhat technical, but it may be an easier “introduction” to Carmeli than some of his other books.


By Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Unabridged) [Audio CD]
By Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Unabridged) [Audio CD]
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Audio CD
14 used & new from $29.66

5.0 out of 5 stars THE POPULAR SCIENTIST AND WRITER SUMMARIZES THE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTION, May 4, 2015
Clinton Richard Dawkins (born 1941) is an English ethologist and evolutionary biologist, as well as an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He has written some of the most creative and challenging defenses of evolutionary theory [e.g., The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Selfish Gene] of anyone other than the late Stephen Jay Gould. He also recently wrote The God Delusion.

[NOTE: page nuimbers below refer to the 470-page hardcover edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to this 2009 book, “The evidence for evolution grows by the day, and has never been stronger. At the same time, paradoxically, ill-informed opposition is also stronger than I can remember. This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact---as incontrovertible as any in science.” (Pg. vii) Later, he adds, “The history-deniers themselves are among those that I am trying to reach in this book. But, perhaps more importantly, I aspire to arm those who are not history-deniers but know some---perhaps members of their own family or church---and find themselves inadequately prepared to argue the case… Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientists disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” (Pg. 8-9)

He states, “If the history-deniers who doubt the fact of evolution are ignorant of biology, those who think the world began less than ten thousand years ago are worse than ignorant, they are deluded to the point of perversity. They are denying not only the facts of biology but those of physics, geology, cosmology, archaeology, history and chemistry as well.” (Pg. 85)

He argues, “We don’t NEED fossils---the case for evolution is watertight without them; so it is paradoxical to use GAPS in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution. We are, as I say, lucky to have fossils at all. What WOULD be evidence against evolution, and very strong evidence at that, would be the discovery of even a single fossil in the wrong geological strata… All the fossils that we have, and there are very very many indeed, occur, without a single authenticated exception, in the right temporal sequence. Yes, there are gaps, where there are no fossils at all, and that is only to be expected. But not a single solitary fossil has ever been found BEFORE it could have evolved… Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order… Sceptics of evolution who wish to prove their case should be diligently scrabbling around in the rocks, desperately trying to find anachronistic fossils.” (Pg. 146-147)

He gives examples: “Acanthostega was largely a water-dweller, but it had lungs and its limbs strongly suggest that it could cope with land as well as water if it had to. Again, it looked pretty much like a giant salamander. Moving back now to the fish side of the divide, Panderichthys, also from the late Devonian, is also slightly more amphibian-like, and slightly less fish-like, than Eusthenopteron. But if you saw it you would surely want to call it a fish rather than a salamander. So, we are left with a gap between Panderichthys, the amphibian-like fish, and Acanthostega, the fish-like amphibian. Where is the ‘missing link’ between them?” (Pg. 168)

Later, he observes, “Homo ergaster/erectus, of which we have many fossil specimens, is a very persuasive halfway link, no longer missing, between Homo sapiens today and Homo habilis two million years ago, which is in turn a beautiful link back to Australopithecus three million years ago, which… could pretty well be described as an upright-walking chimpanzee. How many links do you need, before you concede that they are no longer ‘missing’? And can we also bridge the gap between Homo ergaster and modern Homo sapiens? Yes: we have a rich lode of fossils, covering the last few hundred thousand years, which are intermediate between them…. the links are no longer missing. Intermediates abound.”
(Pg. 197)

He suggests, “Whatever else God does, he certainly doesn’t MAKE glowing colours and tiny wings. If he did anything at all, it would be to supervise the embryonic development of things, for example by splicing together sequences of genes that direct a process of automated development… God… never made a tiny wing in his eternal life. If he made anything (he didn’t in my view, but let it pass, that’s not what I’m about here), what he made was an embryological RECIPE, or something like a computer program for controlling the embryonic development of a tiny wing… Of course, God might claim that it is just as clever … to design a recipe or a program for a wing, as to make a wing. But… I just want to develop- the distinction between MAKING something like a wing, and what really happens in embryology.” (Pg. 212-213)

He critiques the notion of Noah’s Ark: “Shouldn’t there be some sort of law of decreasing species diversity as we move away from … Mount Ararat? … why would all those marsupials … have migrated en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia? … Why did the entire order Edenta [armadillos, sloths, anteaters]… troop off unerringly for South America… leaving no hide nor hair nor armour plate of settlers somewhere along the way?... Why did an entire sub-order of monkeys, the platyrrhine monkeys, end up in South America and nowhere else? Shouldn’t at least a few of them have joined the rest of the monkeys … in Asia or Africa? … Why did all the penguins undertake the long waddle south to the Antarctic, not a single one to the equally hospitable Arctic?” (Pg. 268-269)

He asks, “If feathers are a good idea within the bird ‘theme,’ such that every single bird, without exception, has them whether it flies or not, why do literally no mammals have them? Why would the designer not borrow that ingenious invention, the feather, for at least one bat? The evolutionist’s answer is clear. All birds have inherited their feathers from their shared ancestor, which had feathers. No mammal is descended from that ancestor. It’s as simple as that.” (Pg. 297-298)

He also critiques the so-called “molecular clock” idea: “what gives us the right to hope that we can find evolutionary processes that go at a fixed rate? Indeed, much evidence suggests that evolutionary rates are highly variable… If rates of evolution are so variable, how can we hope to use them as a clock? This is where molecular genetics comes to the rescue… If legs and beaks undergo change at rates ranging from microdarwins to kilodarwins, why should molecules be any more reliable as clocks? The answer is that genetic changes that manifest themselves in outward and visible evolution---of things like legs and arms---are a very small tip of the iceberg, and they are … heavily influenced by varying natural selection. The majority of genetic change at the molecular level is NEUTRAL, and can therefore be expected to proceed at a rate that is independent of usefulness and might even be approximately constant within any one gene. A neutral genetic change has no effect on the survival of the animal, and this is a helpful credential for a clock.” (Pg. 330-332)

He points out, “Not all birds fly, but all birds carry at least relics of the apparatus of flight… as a legacy from remote flying ancestors. Ostrich wing stubs, moreover, have not completely lost their usefulness… they seem to have some sort of balancing and steering role in running, and they enter into social and sexual displays…” (Pg. 344) Later, he adds, “Evolutionists… need to come up with an explanation for the loss of eyes where they are no longer needed. Why not, it might be said, simply hang on to your eyes, even if you never use them? Might they not come in handy at some point in the future? Why ‘bother’ to get rid of them? Notice, by the way, how hard it is to resist the language of intention, purpose and personification… Well, eyes are almost certainly not cost-free… a moist eye socket, which has to be open to the world to accommodate the swiveling eyeball with its transparent surface, might be vulnerable to infection.” (Pg. 351)

In the final chapter, he summarizes, “Natural selection is an improbability pump: a process that generates the statistically improbable. It systematically seizes the minority of random changes that have what it takes to survive, and accumulates them… until evolution eventually climbs mountains of improbability and diversity, peaks whose height and range seem to know no limit, the metaphorical mountain that I have called ‘Mount Improbable.’ The improbability pump of natural selection… is a kind of statistical equivalent of the sun’s energy raising water to the top of a conventional mountain. Life evolves greater complexity only because natural selection drives it locally away from the statistically probable towards the improbable.” (Pg. 416)

This is one of the best, and most comprehensive, presentations of the evidence for evolution currently available. It will be “must reading” for anyone seriously studying evolutionary theory.


by Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution(text only)[Paperback]2010
by Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution(text only)[Paperback]2010
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE POPULAR SCIENTIST AND WRITER SUMMARIZES THE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTION, May 4, 2015
Clinton Richard Dawkins (born 1941) is an English ethologist and evolutionary biologist, as well as an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He has written some of the most creative and challenging defenses of evolutionary theory [e.g., The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Selfish Gene] of anyone other than the late Stephen Jay Gould. He also recently wrote The God Delusion.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 470-page hardcover edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to this 2009 book, “The evidence for evolution grows by the day, and has never been stronger. At the same time, paradoxically, ill-informed opposition is also stronger than I can remember. This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact---as incontrovertible as any in science.” (Pg. vii) Later, he adds, “The history-deniers themselves are among those that I am trying to reach in this book. But, perhaps more importantly, I aspire to arm those who are not history-deniers but know some---perhaps members of their own family or church---and find themselves inadequately prepared to argue the case… Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientists disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” (Pg. 8-9)

He states, “If the history-deniers who doubt the fact of evolution are ignorant of biology, those who think the world began less than ten thousand years ago are worse than ignorant, they are deluded to the point of perversity. They are denying not only the facts of biology but those of physics, geology, cosmology, archaeology, history and chemistry as well.” (Pg. 85)

He argues, “We don’t NEED fossils---the case for evolution is watertight without them; so it is paradoxical to use GAPS in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution. We are, as I say, lucky to have fossils at all. What WOULD be evidence against evolution, and very strong evidence at that, would be the discovery of even a single fossil in the wrong geological strata… All the fossils that we have, and there are very very many indeed, occur, without a single authenticated exception, in the right temporal sequence. Yes, there are gaps, where there are no fossils at all, and that is only to be expected. But not a single solitary fossil has ever been found BEFORE it could have evolved… Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order… Sceptics of evolution who wish to prove their case should be diligently scrabbling around in the rocks, desperately trying to find anachronistic fossils.” (Pg. 146-147)

He gives examples: “Acanthostega was largely a water-dweller, but it had lungs and its limbs strongly suggest that it could cope with land as well as water if it had to. Again, it looked pretty much like a giant salamander. Moving back now to the fish side of the divide, Panderichthys, also from the late Devonian, is also slightly more amphibian-like, and slightly less fish-like, than Eusthenopteron. But if you saw it you would surely want to call it a fish rather than a salamander. So, we are left with a gap between Panderichthys, the amphibian-like fish, and Acanthostega, the fish-like amphibian. Where is the ‘missing link’ between them?” (Pg. 168)

Later, he observes, “Homo ergaster/erectus, of which we have many fossil specimens, is a very persuasive halfway link, no longer missing, between Homo sapiens today and Homo habilis two million years ago, which is in turn a beautiful link back to Australopithecus three million years ago, which… could pretty well be described as an upright-walking chimpanzee. How many links do you need, before you concede that they are no longer ‘missing’? And can we also bridge the gap between Homo ergaster and modern Homo sapiens? Yes: we have a rich lode of fossils, covering the last few hundred thousand years, which are intermediate between them…. the links are no longer missing. Intermediates abound.”
(Pg. 197)

He suggests, “Whatever else God does, he certainly doesn’t MAKE glowing colours and tiny wings. If he did anything at all, it would be to supervise the embryonic development of things, for example by splicing together sequences of genes that direct a process of automated development… God… never made a tiny wing in his eternal life. If he made anything (he didn’t in my view, but let it pass, that’s not what I’m about here), what he made was an embryological RECIPE, or something like a computer program for controlling the embryonic development of a tiny wing… Of course, God might claim that it is just as clever … to design a recipe or a program for a wing, as to make a wing. But… I just want to develop- the distinction between MAKING something like a wing, and what really happens in embryology.” (Pg. 212-213)

He critiques the notion of Noah’s Ark: “Shouldn’t there be some sort of law of decreasing species diversity as we move away from … Mount Ararat? … why would all those marsupials … have migrated en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia? … Why did the entire order Edenta [armadillos, sloths, anteaters]… troop off unerringly for South America… leaving no hide nor hair nor armour plate of settlers somewhere along the way?... Why did an entire sub-order of monkeys, the platyrrhine monkeys, end up in South America and nowhere else? Shouldn’t at least a few of them have joined the rest of the monkeys … in Asia or Africa? … Why did all the penguins undertake the long waddle south to the Antarctic, not a single one to the equally hospitable Arctic?” (Pg. 268-269)

He asks, “If feathers are a good idea within the bird ‘theme,’ such that every single bird, without exception, has them whether it flies or not, why do literally no mammals have them? Why would the designer not borrow that ingenious invention, the feather, for at least one bat? The evolutionist’s answer is clear. All birds have inherited their feathers from their shared ancestor, which had feathers. No mammal is descended from that ancestor. It’s as simple as that.” (Pg. 297-298)

He also critiques the so-called “molecular clock” idea: “what gives us the right to hope that we can find evolutionary processes that go at a fixed rate? Indeed, much evidence suggests that evolutionary rates are highly variable… If rates of evolution are so variable, how can we hope to use them as a clock? This is where molecular genetics comes to the rescue… If legs and beaks undergo change at rates ranging from microdarwins to kilodarwins, why should molecules be any more reliable as clocks? The answer is that genetic changes that manifest themselves in outward and visible evolution---of things like legs and arms---are a very small tip of the iceberg, and they are … heavily influenced by varying natural selection. The majority of genetic change at the molecular level is NEUTRAL, and can therefore be expected to proceed at a rate that is independent of usefulness and might even be approximately constant within any one gene. A neutral genetic change has no effect on the survival of the animal, and this is a helpful credential for a clock.” (Pg. 330-332)

He points out, “Not all birds fly, but all birds carry at least relics of the apparatus of flight… as a legacy from remote flying ancestors. Ostrich wing stubs, moreover, have not completely lost their usefulness… they seem to have some sort of balancing and steering role in running, and they enter into social and sexual displays…” (Pg. 344) Later, he adds, “Evolutionists… need to come up with an explanation for the loss of eyes where they are no longer needed. Why not, it might be said, simply hang on to your eyes, even if you never use them? Might they not come in handy at some point in the future? Why ‘bother’ to get rid of them? Notice, by the way, how hard it is to resist the language of intention, purpose and personification… Well, eyes are almost certainly not cost-free… a moist eye socket, which has to be open to the world to accommodate the swiveling eyeball with its transparent surface, might be vulnerable to infection.” (Pg. 351)

In the final chapter, he summarizes, “Natural selection is an improbability pump: a process that generates the statistically improbable. It systematically seizes the minority of random changes that have what it takes to survive, and accumulates them… until evolution eventually climbs mountains of improbability and diversity, peaks whose height and range seem to know no limit, the metaphorical mountain that I have called ‘Mount Improbable.’ The improbability pump of natural selection… is a kind of statistical equivalent of the sun’s energy raising water to the top of a conventional mountain. Life evolves greater complexity only because natural selection drives it locally away from the statistically probable towards the improbable.” (Pg. 416)

This is one of the best, and most comprehensive, presentations of the evidence for evolution currently available. It will be “must reading” for anyone seriously studying evolutionary theory.


The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Edition 1) by Dawkins, Richard [Hardcover(2009£©]
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Edition 1) by Dawkins, Richard [Hardcover(2009£©]
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from $11.84

5.0 out of 5 stars THE POPULAR SCIENTIST AND WRITER SUMMARIZES THE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTION, May 4, 2015
Clinton Richard Dawkins (born 1941) is an English ethologist and evolutionary biologist, as well as an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He has written some of the most creative and challenging defenses of evolutionary theory [e.g., The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Selfish Gene] of anyone other than the late Stephen Jay Gould. He also recently wrote The God Delusion.

He wrote in the Preface to this 2009 book, “The evidence for evolution grows by the day, and has never been stronger. At the same time, paradoxically, ill-informed opposition is also stronger than I can remember. This book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact---as incontrovertible as any in science.” (Pg. vii) Later, he adds, “The history-deniers themselves are among those that I am trying to reach in this book. But, perhaps more importantly, I aspire to arm those who are not history-deniers but know some---perhaps members of their own family or church---and find themselves inadequately prepared to argue the case… Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientists disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.” (Pg. 8-9)

He states, “If the history-deniers who doubt the fact of evolution are ignorant of biology, those who think the world began less than ten thousand years ago are worse than ignorant, they are deluded to the point of perversity. They are denying not only the facts of biology but those of physics, geology, cosmology, archaeology, history and chemistry as well.” (Pg. 85)

He argues, “We don’t NEED fossils---the case for evolution is watertight without them; so it is paradoxical to use GAPS in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution. We are, as I say, lucky to have fossils at all. What WOULD be evidence against evolution, and very strong evidence at that, would be the discovery of even a single fossil in the wrong geological strata… All the fossils that we have, and there are very very many indeed, occur, without a single authenticated exception, in the right temporal sequence. Yes, there are gaps, where there are no fossils at all, and that is only to be expected. But not a single solitary fossil has ever been found BEFORE it could have evolved… Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order… Sceptics of evolution who wish to prove their case should be diligently scrabbling around in the rocks, desperately trying to find anachronistic fossils.” (Pg. 146-147)

He gives examples: “Acanthostega was largely a water-dweller, but it had lungs and its limbs strongly suggest that it could cope with land as well as water if it had to. Again, it looked pretty much like a giant salamander. Moving back now to the fish side of the divide, Panderichthys, also from the late Devonian, is also slightly more amphibian-like, and slightly less fish-like, than Eusthenopteron. But if you saw it you would surely want to call it a fish rather than a salamander. So, we are left with a gap between Panderichthys, the amphibian-like fish, and Acanthostega, the fish-like amphibian. Where is the ‘missing link’ between them?” (Pg. 168)

Later, he observes, “Homo ergaster/erectus, of which we have many fossil specimens, is a very persuasive halfway link, no longer missing, between Homo sapiens today and Homo habilis two million years ago, which is in turn a beautiful link back to Australopithecus three million years ago, which… could pretty well be described as an upright-walking chimpanzee. How many links do you need, before you concede that they are no longer ‘missing’? And can we also bridge the gap between Homo ergaster and modern Homo sapiens? Yes: we have a rich lode of fossils, covering the last few hundred thousand years, which are intermediate between them…. the links are no longer missing. Intermediates abound.”
(Pg. 197)

He suggests, “Whatever else God does, he certainly doesn’t MAKE glowing colours and tiny wings. If he did anything at all, it would be to supervise the embryonic development of things, for example by splicing together sequences of genes that direct a process of automated development… God… never made a tiny wing in his eternal life. If he made anything (he didn’t in my view, but let it pass, that’s not what I’m about here), what he made was an embryological RECIPE, or something like a computer program for controlling the embryonic development of a tiny wing… Of course, God might claim that it is just as clever … to design a recipe or a program for a wing, as to make a wing. But… I just want to develop- the distinction between MAKING something like a wing, and what really happens in embryology.” (Pg. 212-213)

He critiques the notion of Noah’s Ark: “Shouldn’t there be some sort of law of decreasing species diversity as we move away from … Mount Ararat? … why would all those marsupials … have migrated en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia? … Why did the entire order Edenta [armadillos, sloths, anteaters]… troop off unerringly for South America… leaving no hide nor hair nor armour plate of settlers somewhere along the way?... Why did an entire sub-order of monkeys, the platyrrhine monkeys, end up in South America and nowhere else? Shouldn’t at least a few of them have joined the rest of the monkeys … in Asia or Africa? … Why did all the penguins undertake the long waddle south to the Antarctic, not a single one to the equally hospitable Arctic?” (Pg. 268-269)

He asks, “If feathers are a good idea within the bird ‘theme,’ such that every single bird, without exception, has them whether it flies or not, why do literally no mammals have them? Why would the designer not borrow that ingenious invention, the feather, for at least one bat? The evolutionist’s answer is clear. All birds have inherited their feathers from their shared ancestor, which had feathers. No mammal is descended from that ancestor. It’s as simple as that.” (Pg. 297-298)

He also critiques the so-called “molecular clock” idea: “what gives us the right to hope that we can find evolutionary processes that go at a fixed rate? Indeed, much evidence suggests that evolutionary rates are highly variable… If rates of evolution are so variable, how can we hope to use them as a clock? This is where molecular genetics comes to the rescue… If legs and beaks undergo change at rates ranging from microdarwins to kilodarwins, why should molecules be any more reliable as clocks? The answer is that genetic changes that manifest themselves in outward and visible evolution---of things like legs and arms---are a very small tip of the iceberg, and they are … heavily influenced by varying natural selection. The majority of genetic change at the molecular level is NEUTRAL, and can therefore be expected to proceed at a rate that is independent of usefulness and might even be approximately constant within any one gene. A neutral genetic change has no effect on the survival of the animal, and this is a helpful credential for a clock.” (Pg. 330-332)

He points out, “Not all birds fly, but all birds carry at least relics of the apparatus of flight… as a legacy from remote flying ancestors. Ostrich wing stubs, moreover, have not completely lost their usefulness… they seem to have some sort of balancing and steering role in running, and they enter into social and sexual displays…” (Pg. 344) Later, he adds, “Evolutionists… need to come up with an explanation for the loss of eyes where they are no longer needed. Why not, it might be said, simply hang on to your eyes, even if you never use them? Might they not come in handy at some point in the future? Why ‘bother’ to get rid of them? Notice, by the way, how hard it is to resist the language of intention, purpose and personification… Well, eyes are almost certainly not cost-free… a moist eye socket, which has to be open to the world to accommodate the swiveling eyeball with its transparent surface, might be vulnerable to infection.” (Pg. 351)

In the final chapter, he summarizes, “Natural selection is an improbability pump: a process that generates the statistically improbable. It systematically seizes the minority of random changes that have what it takes to survive, and accumulates them… until evolution eventually climbs mountains of improbability and diversity, peaks whose height and range seem to know no limit, the metaphorical mountain that I have called ‘Mount Improbable.’ The improbability pump of natural selection… is a kind of statistical equivalent of the sun’s energy raising water to the top of a conventional mountain. Life evolves greater complexity only because natural selection drives it locally away from the statistically probable towards the improbable.” (Pg. 416)

This is one of the best, and most comprehensive, presentations of the evidence for evolution currently available. It will be “must reading” for anyone seriously studying evolutionary theory.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20