Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe

Author: Roger Penrose

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 0691178534

Category: Science

Page: 520

View: 6623


What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy possibly have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, theoretical physicists are immune to mere trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, acclaimed physicist and bestselling author Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this provocative book, he argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas—string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgment of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds by suggesting possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Finally, Penrose describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work, from twistor theory, a possible alternative to string theory that is beginning to acquire a fashionable status, to "conformal cyclic cosmology," an idea so fantastic that it could be called "conformal crazy cosmology." The result is an important critique of some of the most significant developments in physics today from one of its most eminent figures.

The Reality of Time Flow

Local Becoming in Modern Physics

Author: Richard T. W. Arthur

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3030159485

Category: Science

Page: 287

View: 8155


It is commonly held that there is no place for the 'now’ in physics, and also that the passing of time is something subjective, having to do with the way reality is experienced but not with the way reality is. Indeed, the majority of modern theoretical physicists and philosophers of physics contend that the passing of time is incompatible with modern physical theory, and excluded in a fundamental description of physical reality. This book provides a forceful rebuttal of such claims. In successive chapters the author explains the historical precedents of the modern opposition to time flow, giving careful expositions of matters relevant to becoming in classical physics, the special and general theories of relativity, and quantum theory, without presupposing prior expertise in these subjects. Analysing the arguments of thinkers ranging from Aristotle, Russell, and Bergson to the proponents of quantum gravity, he contends that the passage of time, understood as a local becoming of events out of those in their past at varying rates, is not only compatible with the theories of modern physics, but implicit in them.

New Science Theory

Author: Vincent Wilmot


ISBN: 1446795381

Category: Science

Page: 164

View: 5335


New Science Theory by Vincent Wilmot is basically the website as on 1 January 2018, for changes since then visit the site which has a Sitemap noting updates. Especially good for those interested in physics, it concentrates chiefly on the four great physicists Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes and William Gilbert. Also here are fine sections covering Galileo, Kepler, History of Science, Philosophy of Science, Gravity, Light, Standard Model, String Theory, Probability Science and General Image Theory.

Quantum Space

Loop Quantum Gravity and the Search for the Structure of Space, Time, and the Universe

Author: Jim Baggott

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0198809115

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 7309


Today we are blessed with two extraordinarily successful theories of physics. The first is Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes the large-scale behaviour of matter in a curved spacetime. This theory is the basis for the standard model of big bang cosmology. The discovery of gravitational waves at the LIGO observatory in the US (and then Virgo, in Italy) is only the most recent of this theory's many triumphs. The second is quantum mechanics. This theory describes the properties and behaviour of matter and radiation at their smallest scales. It is the basis for the standard model of particle physics, which builds up all the visible constituents of the universe out of collections of quarks, electrons and force-carrying particles such as photons. The discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN in Geneva is only the most recent of this theory's many triumphs. But, while they are both highly successful, these two structures leave a lot of important questions unanswered. They are also based on two different interpretations of space and time, and are therefore fundamentally incompatible. We have two descriptions but, as far as we know, we've only ever had one universe. What we need is a quantum theory of gravity. Approaches to formulating such a theory have primarily followed two paths. One leads to String Theory, which has for long been fashionable, and about which much has been written. But String Theory has become mired in problems. In this book, Jim Baggott describes "the road less travelled": an approach which takes relativity as its starting point, and leads to a structure called Loop Quantum Gravity. Baggott tells the story through the careers and pioneering work of two of the theory's most prominent contributors, Lee Smolin and Carlo Rovelli. Combining clear discussions of both quantum theory and general relativity, this book offers one of the first efforts to explain the new quantum theory of space and time.

Designer Evolution

A Transhumanist Manifesto

Author: Simon Young

Publisher: Pyr Books


Category: Medical

Page: 417

View: 438


Young presents a polemical espousal of transhumanist philosophy and a trenchant attack on its critics, the "Bio-Luddites." The author calls for a rejection of premodern superstition and postmodern nihilism in favor of a renewed belief in human progress through scientific rationality.

First Things

A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Author: N.A

Publisher: N.A


Category: Religion and sociology

Page: N.A

View: 5142