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The Accidental Universe

The World You Thought You Knew
Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Doubleday
 | 
October, 2014
ISBN:
9780345805959
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Banyen's Description: 

In this engrossing essay collection, theoretical physicist and novelist Lightman (Einstein’s Dreams) offers insight into the ways that recent scientific discoveries shape our understanding of ourselves and our world. Each of the seven essays here explores the philosophical fallout from a particular corner of research. The titular lead essay examines the concept of the multiverse, and the potential implications of its existence, in light of the dark energy that keeps our universe from collapsing. “The Spiritual Universe” examines the often uneasy relationship between science and religion, while other pieces explore entropy, the vast scale of space, and unpredictable humanity’s role in a universe built on physical laws and composed of forces, light, and particles we can’t see.

Alan Lightman, as witnessed in The Accidental Universe, is a rare bird: a limpid popularizer of theoretical physics who is comfortable with mystery; someone who can sew the known, the conjectured, and the unknown together like the master needleworker at a cosmological bee.

The seven essays here are of a piece—all deal with some aspect of the universe: symmetry, size, laws, spirit, accident—though they can stand alone and be read in the order of interest. The material, for all its wondrousness, spins and bounces merrily along on the surface, with the occasional dive into deeper waters.

A Walden for our digital, cosmological, and quantum age from a modern-day Thoreau. Not since Fred Hoyle in another era (and universe) has anyone dared to cover such a sweeping domain, and no one so elegantly, so parsimoniously, and so personally.” —Jon Kabat Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living 

A theoretical physicist as well as a writer, Alan Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities,

Publisher’s Description: 

Alan Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time. Throughout, Lightman takes us back and forth between ordinary occurrencesold shoes and entropy, sailing far out at sea and the infinite expanse of space.

In this slight volume, Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world.
Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

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