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The Nature of the Physical World

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1417907182
ISBN-10: 1417907185
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (May 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417907185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417907182
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,416,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely good book that contains a series of lectures delivered to lay audience by this great physicist. It reveals the deep meaning behind the mathematical symbols and equations in modern physics. It's incomparable in this regard. The book is very easy to understand. The writing flows smoothly and beautifully. Great metaphors comes out effortlessly, one after another. It is very enjoyable reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read this book forty years ago. I found it by accident in the rare book section of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School Library. You could only checkout the book for seventy-two hours. I read the introduction and for the next three days spent all of my free time devouring chapter after chapter. A. S. Eddington was a Professor of Astronomy at the U. of Cambridge. He was invited to give the distinguished Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh Jan. - March 1927. This book is the compilation of those lectures. Eddington progresses from the downfall of Newtonian Physics through Einstein's theories of Relativity and Gravity, through Quantum Mechanics and ends with a chapter on Science and Mysticism. Recently I had an urge to re-read the book and was delighted to see a hardback issue had been published and was readily available through Amazon. The Introduction starts with Eddington describing his two writing tables. One he is very familiar with since his earliest days. It is comparatively permanent, colored and above all substantial. The second table he calls his scientific table is mostly emptiness with swirling electrical particles rushing around with great speed. This is where you can get hooked, line and sinker, if you have an inquisitive nature and always wanted to know what all the fuss about Einstein and time is about.

I discovered from reading a comment on one of the two Amazon reviews that you can download the book free on the Internet from the Henry Foundation[...] This version has a new preface by the foundation's philanthropist Richard Conn Henry. He too was influenced as I was on Eddington's ability to navigate through the space-time gelatin nature of the physical world to the realization that all we observe in the universe is not by chance.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There seems to be a few kindle versions of this book out at the moment. These vary in price from $0.99 to a few dollars. I bought the $0.99 version and before I get to the substance of the book first a few comments about technical details of this kindle version. There seem to be some problems here. First there are some 35+ end-notes in the book signaled by the usual underline, but when I tap on them they don't go anywhere. Luckily these end-notes are in the book (at the end) and it is easy enough (if a bit inconvenient) to set and move bookmarks in the notes section so that I could follow the end-notes as I read along. Much worse, the author refers to a half-dozen or so figures in the book and none of these appear to be present at all in the Kindle version I bought. This is a BIG shortcoming! Hopefully the more expensive versions include these figures, but I simply do not know. Now on to the substance of it...

Eddington spends the first half of the book explaining the implications of the discoveries of physics in the latter half of the 19th century (thermodynamics) and the first 25 years of the 20th (relativity and quantum mechanics). Bear in mind that when Eddington wrote this (1928) all of relativity (special and general) were in place as were most of the building blocks of modern quantum mechanics. Schrodinger, Dirac, and Heisenberg had all made their primary contributions and Eddington weaves them together effortlessly. Only entanglement seems to be missing, but then again something had to be discovered since 1928! Meanwhile Eddington's explanation of all these phenomena (especially the relativistic time-space manifold) is refreshingly clear.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) was an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician. He wrote many other books, such as The Philosophy of Physical Science, The Internal Constitution Of The Stars, The Theory of Relativity and its Influence on Scientific Thought, Space Time and Gravitation - An Outline of The General Relativity Theory, etc.

He explains in the Introduction about the “non-substantiality of electrons,” and says, “To a request to explain what an electron really is supposed to be we can only answer, ‘It is part of the ABC of physics.’ The external world of physics has thus become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions.”

He continues, “In these lectures I propose to discuss some of the results of modern study of the physical world which give most food for philosophic thought. This will include new conceptions in science and also new knowledge. In both respects we are led to think of the material universe in a way very different from that prevailing at the end of the last century.
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