- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780143121350
- ISBN-13: 978-0143121350
- ASIN: 0143121359
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 175 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World Reprint Edition
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"Brilliant and exhilarating . . . Deutsch is so smart, and so strange, and so creative, and so inexhaustibly curious, and so vividly intellectually alive, that it is a distinct privilege to spend time in his head."
--The New York Times Book Review
"[Deutsch] makes the case for infinite progress and such passion, imagination, and quirky brilliance that I couldn't help enjoying his argument. . . . [He] mounts a compelling challenge to scientific reductionism."
--The Wall Street Journal
"Provocative and persuasive . . . Address[es] subjects from artificial intelligence to the evolution of culture and creativity."
“[Deutsch’s books] are among the most ambitious works of nonfiction I have read, in that their aim is no less than an explanation of all reality. . . . They are treatises that weave together not just physics and astronomy but biology, mathematics, computer science, political science, psychology, philosophy, aesthetics, and—most important for Deutsch—epistemology, among other fields, in fashioning a profound new view of the world and the universe.”
--The New Yorker’s Book Bench
“Deutsch has an important message . . . that our destiny is to be explainers of the world around us, and explaining is the key to our mastery. . . . He writes clearly and thinks wisely. His book could help the world toward better ways of dealing with its problems.”
--Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books
About the Author
Born in Haifa, Israel, David Deutsch was educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a professor of physics at the University of Oxford, where he is a member of the Centre for Quantum Computation. His papers on quantum computation laid the foundations for that field, and he is an authority on the theory of parallel universes. His honors include the Institute of Physics' Paul Dirac Prize and Medal. The author of The Fabric of Reality, he lives in England.
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The book is sometimes heavy because of its high density of ideas/page (a measure of how much attention you have to pay if you want to follow it). I think sometimes Dr. Deutsch goes a bit on a limb on certain topics that he cannot be an expert on, for nobody is an expert on everything. I am still unclear on whether memes have a drive to expand and if so, whether it means they posses some kind of will, which he makes quite clear they don't, but not too clear how they grow and expand. I guess some day will understand that when we have a theory of emergence, which to me is the next big big thing in physics.
I have never myself been a great fan of the multiverse theories and although Dr. Deutsch makes a good case for them, or at least one of them, his own version, I find that part the most questionable. To me, not yet a definite explanation of quantum weirdness.
I do recommend it to those who want to be aware of where we are in the frontiers of physics and philosophy of science.
At times too mathematical in its discussion of infinity but the take-home messages regarding the importance of optimism and creativity are praiseworthy and uplifting.
You need to have a good background in several disciplines or plan on doing a lot of side reading as I swear David peeked in my library and quoted from every author I ever read. I was really floored to find he know so much about Jacob Bronowski my hero from the 70's.
Occasionally he would light on a subject that I see different but it did not distract from the point he was trying to make. I had a different view of Persephone which included pomegranates. And when he went into base number systems he concentrated on zero not taking to time to see the beauty and simplicity of the base sixty stem that we use today for time and degrees and easy conversions in geometry.
The book itself is broken up into many text book style chapters. Each chaptere on a different subjedt leading to the same point of the meaning of infinity. Each chapter has a good summary. I also listened to the voice recorded book however you miss the diagrams.
As I dove through each chapter, some of them seemed to be making the point the hard way; I kept thinking when is he going to go off the deep; like so many people that want physics to look like old eastern religious clichés. But he never did. His argument kept getting stronger and clearer. He even pointed out bad explanations and why.
When you finish the book (and it ends too soon) you will look at the world differently. It is like the mechanic that looks at the car and does not see its glossy finish but the culmination of many tuned systems that came together for a purpose.
You of course will have to read this book again.
Chapter 10 (A Dream of Socrates) alone is worth the price of the book.
I would encourage to author to write the ideas/explorations
in other chapters in the format of a dialog - ie one of hypothesis and
Mr. Deutsch is a good writer, if a little pompous. I enjoyed reading this book, it's very well written - but if you have different views than his, please suspend them & mull over what he has to say. It will be worth it, I promise.
I recommend this book to anyone who tries to find the most fine grained piece of truth to build a world view upon.