- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0739473115
- ISBN-13: 978-0739473115
- ASIN: 0316013331
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 96 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As modern physics has developed a better understanding of how the universe operates at its most fundamental levels, one thing has become increasingly clear: we're damned lucky to be here at all. The laws of physics are precariously balanced, and were the value of one constant slightly different, life as we know it wouldn't exist. To explain the ridiculous improbability of it all, some physicists have turned to the "Anthropic Principle": the universe seems perfectly tailored to us because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to observe it. The underlying rationale for this argument involves the "landscape" of potential laws of physics (which, it turns out, aren't so immutable after all), a whole bunch of extra dimensions and lots of particle physics. Luckily, Susskindâthe father of string theoryâdoes the job right, guiding readers through the current controversy over the Anthropic Principle. Make no mistake: this is the cutting edge of physics as described by one of the sharpest scientific minds around. While the subtitle is a bit misleading (this isn't about intelligent design in the Kansas Board of Education sense, but actually a controversy at once bigger and less prominent), persistent readers will finish this book understanding and caring about contemporary physics in ways both unexpected and gratifying. (Dec. 12)
Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Physicist Susskind is a founder of string theory, and his first popular work will be of utmost significance to science readers. They will be challenged throughout by Susskind's ideas, of which strings are but a part; his driving curiosity is to discover why the laws of physics are what they are and so finely poised to permit life. Susskind discusses how slight alterations of physical values would destroy atoms and, hence, life. Deeming unscientific any proposition of a supernatural agency in setting the physical dials so exactly, Susskind advances a radical concept he calls the "landscape." Valiantly explaining it to his lay audience, Susskind, after introducing the moving parts of his theory (general relativity, quantum mechanics, vacuum energy), compares our universe to a rolling ball on an undulating landscape. Its place of rest equates to our laws of physics. In this extraordinary work, Susskind ushers us to the mind-bending edge of a possible paradigm shift. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I recommend this book. Dr. Susskind presents quantum physics and cosmology in a descriptive manner without the use of equations. However, do not think that this would be a lightweight book for the average person. I think that it does help (but not necessary) to have had an introduction to the ideas of quantum mechanics in order to get the most out of this book.. The reader must remain focused and follow the line of reasoning. He is a natural teacher and has the ability of explain complicated ideas in quantum mechanics using descriptive language including appropriate metaphors. I very much enjoyed following his reasoning and would love to have him as a physics teacher.
Dr. Suuskind begins by reviewing the lay of the land in the area of modern physics. He presents the “mother of all physics problem” as the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmological constant. How to explain this without a supernatural cause? His answer lies in the combination of string theory and the idea of eternal inflation of the universe. He readily admits that string theory allows for a complicated, Rube Goldberg like reality. Indeed the almost infinite solutions of string theory his perceives as a great strength for these various solutions allow for an almost infinite landscape of potential realities. This infinite realities are then populated with a infinite (or nearly so) number of universes from the theory of eternal inflation. Sensitive to the accusation of the unverifiability of seeing beyond our universe, he presents some theoretical ideas for future scientific discoveries which could support his theory. If you would like to read a book that crtically interacts with this and other multiverse theories then read Rodney Holder’s “Big Bang Big God”.
As I have stated, I do recommend his book because of his ability of explain a complicated subject area. However be aware that there are other competing theories and Dr. Susskind may be a little too confident in his own theory and this book is a polemic supporting his ideas.
From my perspective, I still believe in the actual fine-tuning of the universe. Ultimately unconvinced by his final argument due to the many assumptions, the Rube Goldberg nature of string theory and, quite frankly, the speculative nature of these theories. However have said all this, I benefited from reading this book.