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63 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would have five stars if he stuck to one thesis objective..., November 8, 2001
This review is from: Timeless Reality : Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (Hardcover)
I approve of the non-mathematical descriptions this book offers the intended audience. It elucidates some important quantitative principles in a comprehensible language (e.g. the Principle of Least Action; the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian; the 'Wave-Particle Duality' and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle; state vectors, phase, superposition, Gauge Invariance, Relativity symmetry, spin, and Lorentz transformations). I have enjoyed using this book as part of a bridge to step across the yawning gulf between popular (non-mathematical) and rigorously quantitative textbooks on Quantum theory (Quantum Electrodynamics & Quantum Field Theory). I especially liked Chapter 7 'Taming Infinity' where the Feynman-Wheeler Interaction Theory and Feynman's QED are beautifully presented for intellectual consumption. He seems especially aligned with Feynman's views of the particle nature of matter.
The author has carefully placed key words in bold type throughout the book that indicate their inclusion in a generous glossary of terms near the end of the book. I have grown to appreciate this as is a valuable feature in several books at this reading level. The chapters are broken into intellectually digestible size with a fair amount of diagrams to illustrate certain concepts visually.
Apparently a part of his agenda in this book, as well as in several of his other publications, is to try to correct (control) superstitious creationist (wrong) thinking concerning the origin of our Universe and equally incorrect mystical interpretations of reality. Vic flat out states that the Universe '...had no beginning and was not created.' For example, Dr. Stenger seems compelled to narrowly target the logic of theistic physicists such as Polkinghorne and Ross. In addition, he seems to be inclined to marginalize the fact that particles are a manifestation of force field excitations/waves in a quantum field description of the phenomena in our Universe. After carefully reading his book (with sincere & open-minded interest) I have come to strongly suspect that he fears an association of 'spooky action at a distance' (i.e. fields & waves) with a an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal (timeless) Supreme Being who, God forbid, might have created everything (including the laws of physics). He also goes after the philosophical interpretation of QM that speculates that reality is mystically created or changed by observation & measurement. One has to wonder if maybe the author might have had some kind of traumatic religious disenchantment in his earlier travels through life that subsequently motivates him to prove that God doesn't exist. I would like to point out that I once had a bout of serious religious disillusionment from which I recovered to a simple & humble attitude and outlook towards a theological ontology of reality that is in harmony with, indeed even embraces, physical reality as we understand it from a scientific perspective. It's possible to do this and not risk your intelligence, reasonability, sanity, and objectivity towards reality. I may be projecting something that isn't really there with this guy so I apologize if that's the case. Honestly I have to confess that I don't know (for sure) what motivates this man as I cannot read his mind. I can, however, surmise from what he has written that he finds the possibility of a spiritual realm untenable. Well, live & let live right?
It must be noted that one of his major points in this book is we exist in a (bi-directional) time symmetric Universe that may be one of many in the 'Multiverse'. This is most interesting and would make a book in itself without all the other anti-superstitious stuff. I believe that he could have left his arguments against the creative design of the Universe in (a revised version of?) his other book 'The Unconscious Quantum' to keep this particular book more focused towards the subjects of the sub-title: 'Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes'. Ironically, his arguments for a timeless reality reinforce my view of an eternal Spirit whom I believe is responsible for, and continues to sustain, more than we can ever achieve in defining the reality he has created. I choose to call this Spirit God. Well now you know my perspective. I like to try to keep an open mind. If I'm wrong, and I very well might be, then I haven't lost anything, just a little mental time in a timeless universe.
All this said I hope you don't get the wrong impression of my respect towards what Mr. Stenger has done with this great book. He has challenged us to be freethinking skeptics and to recognize the hocus-pocus philosophical fluff that is frequently published in the mystical/speculative interpretations concerning the nature of reality at the quantum level. I loved the book because the majority of it lent itself as a great reference to introductory Quantum Mechanics. His writing is succinct (no fluff), objective and didactic. I recommend "Timeless Reality" to anyone (theistic or otherwise) interested in exploring the deeply mysterious and equally edifying adventure of Quantum Reality. I hope this comes out in paperback so that more can benefit from it as I have. My sincere appreciation goes out to this author. Thanks Vic!
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