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The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? Paperback – Bargain Price, April 29, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, April 29, 2008
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Editorial Reviews


“A truly mesmerizing book . . . The multiverse concept is told by a true master storyteller and scientist in a compelling, lucid fashion . . . A page-turner.” (Michio Kaku )

"Davies is courageous, entertaining, and persuasive." (Nature )

"Very readable indeed...This is Doctor Who, but for real." (Guardian )

About the Author

PAUL DAVIES is an internationally acclaimed physicist and cosmologist now at Arizona State University, where he is setting up a pioneering center for the “study of life, the universe, and everything.” In addition to his many scientific awards, he is the recipient of the 1995 Templeton Prize—the world’s largest annual prize—for his work on science and religion. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Mind of God, About Time, The Origin of Life, and How to Build a Time Machine. He also chairs the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence postdetection committee, so that if SETI succeeds in finding intelligent life, he will be among the first to know.
The asteroid 1992OG was officially renamed Pauldavies in his honor. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547053584
  • ASIN: B002ECEU3U
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,557,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Watkins on October 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Scientists are becoming aware that our universe is remarkably friendly to the development of life. It is as if it was designed for life. How can this be explained? Theists will claim that it was designed for life by God. Atheists will claim otherwise. But the question is how to explain this? Davies does a great job laying out the issues that make our universe so biofriendly. He then examines eight theories that have been invoked to explain this. Many scientists are atheists and have worked hard to develop theories that could explain our fortunate circumstances. A prevailing theory is that there are an infinite number of universes, or multiverses. The conditions of most of them are hostile to life formation. Davies does a fair and even-handed examination of each of the 8 theories, from intelligent design to the multiverse theory. He presents the scientific information in a way that a layman can understand. He points out the strengths and especially the weaknesses of each theory, even his own. I believe in God, and Davies is an atheist. But his writing is very fair and very thought provoking. This is a very interesting book, regardless of the reader's beliefs.
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I bought this book because I'm a big fan of Paul Davies, but I was disappointed to find out the paperback edition of 'the cosmic jackpot' (which I had read when it came out) was simply given a new title. I would read the reviews for the earlier book instead of this one, since the two are identical. All in all it's a fantastic book that discusses why life needs to be properly explained in a properly complete 'theory of everything'. At the moment of course there is not the beginning of an explanation, unless one is willing to entertain the idea of a multiverse plus anthropic selection.
In summary, see reviews of cosmic jackpot.
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Format: Paperback
"The Goldilocks Enigma" (a.k.a. "Cosmic Jackpot") is an interesting book by Paul Davies, the maverick quantum physicist who dialogues with theologians. Davies is sometimes regarded as a deist or panentheist, although he is at pains to sound as scientific as possible. Despite this, his collegues seem to regard him with intense suspicion, as evidenced by a 2007 controversy about an article Davies had written for the New York Times, entitled "Taking science on faith".

The first part of "The Goldilocks Enigma" is cosmology 101, but already here, Davies asks the mischievous question *why* the natural laws look like they do, and why the universe seems to be "just right" for life. This "fine-tuning" of the universe is known as the anthropic principle, and is often used by Christians as an argument for God's existence (see Patrick Glynn's book "God: The Evidence" for a typical example). Small wonder cosmologists attempted to avoid the issue for decades! The reasons are clearly ideological.

As the book progresses, it becomes progressively more interesting. In one section, Davies takes on the idea of a "multiverse". The multiverse theory in all its exotic permutations is an obvious attempt to break free from the theistic implications of the anthropic principle. Davies points out that the multiverse concept, in its worst versions, actually resembles pagan polytheism, with highly advanced "creators" generating fake universes, Matrix-like, with the aid of super-computers! One sure wonders what's wrong with science, if the "naturalist" explanations are more bizarre than the theistic ones they are supposed to overcome?

Davies, however, isn't satisfied with theistic Intelligent Design either.
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Format: Paperback
The author Davies' background has included theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology; his research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved space-time. Like a great chef, he has cooked up a delicious dish by combining the ingredients of science, philosophy and metaphysics. He covered this dish in a subtle gravy he calls religion.

This book discusses the propositions that the conditions of our universe are "just right" for life to exist: hence Goldilocks. This idea is known as the anthropic principle which is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Davies summarizes the current state of knowledge in cosmology and provides a 101 introduction to particle physics.

Davies explores numerous theories which may explain this "just right" condition including multiverses. He seems to sum up his own opinion with what he calls a "life principle" in the cosmos. Of course he recognizes that this "is something I feel more in my heart than in my head."

The main gist of this book, like many other Davies works, always boils down to the main question: Does the design of the universe imply the existence of an intelligent designer?

I would not describe the book as a page turner as one reviewer has. Too much of this material is in his other books; therefore, there is never the surprise around the bend. Davies used his own `intelligent design' to weave these pages from former works of the same arena. So, you don't feel the need to race through the book just as fast as your feet can fly.

Davies always writes in a concise and elegant style and his books are fun to read whether you really `get' the science behind the talk or not.
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