- Series: Science Masters Series
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (May 30, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465078354
- ISBN-13: 978-0465078356
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 73 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Three Roads To Quantum Gravity (Science Masters Series) First Edition Edition
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It's difficult, writes Lee Smolin in this lucid overview of modern physics, to talk meaningfully about the big questions of space and time, given the limitations of our technology and perceptions.
It's more difficult still given some of the contradictions and inconsistencies that obtain between quantum theory, which "was invented to explain why atoms are stable and do not instantly fall apart" but has little to say about space and time, and general relatively theory, which has everything to say about the big picture but tends to collapse when describing the behavior of atoms and their even smaller constituents. Whence the hero of Smolin's tale, the as-yet-incomplete quantum theory of gravity, which seeks to unify relativity and quantum theory--and, in the bargain, to move toward a "grand theory of everything." Smolin ably explains concepts that underlie quantum gravity, such as background independence, the superposition principle, and the notion of causal structure, and he traces the development of allied theories that have shaped modern physics and led to this new view of the universe.
Although he allows that "it has not been possible to test any of our new theories of quantum gravity experimentally," Smolin predicts that a solid framework will be established by 2015 at the outside. If he's correct, the years in between promise to be an exciting time for students of the physical sciences, and Smolin's book makes an engaging introduction to some of the big questions they'll be asking. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
The most obvious questions--e.g., "What are time and space?"--are nearly impossible to answer. Smolin (The Life of the Cosmos), professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University, offers "a report from the front" of the current "revolution" in theories of space and time. Aimed at beginners, this careful treatment of the search for a single theory that brings together relativity and quantum theory will draw in potential explorers. Illus.
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Top customer reviews
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However, loop quantum gravity theory is better, especially since it does not need
multiple dimensions--nor a fixed framework. Smolin does present a very cohesive
and lengthy explanation of string theory, which is why the title is somewhat misleading.
But Lee Smolin does not stops there. This is a book that also teaches us how the concepts of philosophy and social sciences, and the concepts of pure hard science are so closely related. In the wonderfully laymans vocabulary of physics, mathematics, thermodynamics and philosophy, Lee Smolin tells us about Plato and about Hawkins in the same context.
We come to understand how the newtonian concept of the universe took us too far from the understanding of social sciences, and how after a journey through Einstein, science is slowly coming back to be closely related to the social sciences.
We used to think that an observer should be independent, and we made every effort to accomplish that. However, to understand the universe, we can not be independent observers. We are inside!!! It is the same as in sociology or any other social science. We can not be independent observers and we have to accept it.
We learn to understand that our universe is not a thing but a story that has to be told. The universe can only be explained by the logic of plurality; the logic of many logics. The logic of many dependent observers added together. We understand that nothing is absolute and everything is relational just as should be in social sciences.
The view that Lee Smolin gives us about the task ahead for scientists searching for the unified theory of the Cosmos is a view that may finally eliminate the division of hard science and social sciences. It may also help develop new points of view in our view of our society.
At the end, as incredible as it may seem, we are back to square one, we are somehow back to Plato's philosophy, but with the added value of a story of the Cosmos that Plato never dreamt of.
Five Stars to this book that get us a step closer to understanding ourselves and our environment.
Most recent customer reviews
He asserts that space and time are also quantized (as is energy), which I...Read more