New Theories of Everything [NOOK Book]


John Barrow revisits one of the hottest topics in all of science, illuminating the modern quest to unlock the secrets of the universe.

Published in 1991, John Barrow's Theories of Everything was hailed as "a mind-boggling intellectual adventure" by Publishers Weekly and as "an exhilarating journey...important, engaging, and highly literate" by New Scientist . Now, in New Theories of Everything , Barrow completely updates his classic account of one of the hottest fields in all of...

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New Theories of Everything

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John Barrow revisits one of the hottest topics in all of science, illuminating the modern quest to unlock the secrets of the universe.

Published in 1991, John Barrow's Theories of Everything was hailed as "a mind-boggling intellectual adventure" by Publishers Weekly and as "an exhilarating journey...important, engaging, and highly literate" by New Scientist . Now, in New Theories of Everything , Barrow completely updates his classic account of one of the hottest fields in all of science--the search for a cosmic key that will unlock the secrets of the Universe. Will we ever discover a single scientific theory of everything? How can one theory ever explain a world full of chaos and complexity?

In this stimulating volume, Barrow sheds light on these questions as he presents the reader with the very latest ideas and predictions, ranging from the speculations of Stephen Wolfram about the world as a computer program to recent developments in string theory and M theory, new varieties of complexity, new ideas about the nature of mathematics, and much more. He reveals that the field has changed dramatically. Fifteen years ago, scientists sought a single theory uniquely specifying the constants and forces of nature, but today they envision a vast landscape of different logically possible laws and constants in many dimensions, of which our own world is but a tiny facet of a higher dimensional reality. Equally important, Barrow reflects on the philosophical and cultural consequences of those remarkable new ideas, highlighting their implications for our own place in the universe.

The Theory of Everything has in recent years become the focus of some of the most exciting and imaginative thinking in science. Now fully revised, New Theories of Everything brings the story of this exhilarating quest completely up to date.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Can any one theory account for everything in the universe? Barrow (Mathematics/Cambridge; The Infinite Book, 2005, etc.) gets right down to fundamental issues in addressing this central question in modern science. He breaks his subject into eight key areas: laws of Nature, initial conditions, forces and particles, constants, broken symmetries, organizing principles, selection biases and categories of thought. Each of these is given a rigorous examination. For example, in discussing laws of nature, Barrow attempts to look at all possible ways the universe, scientific laws and God might interact, including the possibility that any or all of the three don't exist at all. One key question is whether our math is adequate to describe the deepest level of reality, especially in view of Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem, which holds that every mathematical system entails theorems that cannot be proved. The author suggests that Godel's insight, while true of abstract math, doesn't hold for applied math of the sort used in the sciences. The question of whether or not time and space themselves predate the universe gets a careful look, though not a definitive answer. That, of course, is the problem: There are no definitive answers as yet, only more or less promising approaches to the questions. Among the difficulties is the fact that the universe we can observe is only a fraction of what is believed to exist, and we can't be certain that the observable portion is typical. (Of course, to play the game at all, we need to assume so.) At the end, Barrow concedes that no theory can really account for everything; opinions, emotions and so forth are undeniably realm yet beyond all computation. Yet thisphilosophic recognition is not a denial of the scientific enterprise, but a recognition that the universe, at bottom, is subtler than our tools for analyzing it. A fascinating journey.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191579370
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,193,073
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

John D. Barrow is Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University, Gresham Professor of Astronomy and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is the author of many highly acclaimed books about modern developments in physics, astronomy, and mathematics, including The Left Hand of Creation, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation, Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being, Impossibility: the limits of science and the science of limits, Between Inner Space and Outer Space, The Origin of the Universe, The Universe that Discovered Itself, The Book of Nothing, The Constants of Nature: from alpha to omega and, most recently, The Artful Universe Expanded and The Infinite Book: a short guide to the boundless, timeless and endless. He is also the author of the award-winning play Infinities.

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Table of Contents

Ultimate explanation     1
An eightfold way     1
Myths     4
Creation myths     8
Algorithmic compressibility     10
Laws     14
The legacy of law     14
The quest for unity     17
Roger Boscovich     19
Symmetries     22
Infinities-to be or not to be?     26
From strings to 'M'     32
A flight of rationalistic fancy     36
Goodbye to all that     43
Initial conditions     44
At the edge of things     44
Axioms     45
Mathematical Jujitsu     51
Initial conditions and time symmetry     61
Time without time     62
Cosmological time     66
The problem of time     76
Absolute space and time     78
How far is far enough?     83
The quantum mystery of time     85
Quantum initial conditions     88
The great divide     90
Forces and particles     93
The stuff of the Universe     93
The copy-cat principle     95
Elementarity     100
The atomand the vortex     102
A world beside itself     104
Constants of Nature     110
The importance of being constant     110
Fundamentalism     112
What do constants tell us?     117
Varying constants     124
The cosmological constant     128
Broken symmetries     136
The never-ending story     136
Broken symmetry     138
Natural theology: A tale of two tales     140
The flaws of nature     143
Chaos     145
Chance     148
The unpredictability of sex     152
Symmetry-breaking in the Universe     154
Organizing principles     160
Where the wild things are     160
Big AL     169
Time     173
Being and becoming organized     176
The arrow of time     180
Far from equilibrium     182
The sands of time     185
The way of the world     188
Selection effects     192
Ubiquitous bias     192
Is 'pi' really in the sky?     202
In the centre of immensities     202
The number of the rose     204
Philosophies of mathematics     206
What is mathematics?     212
Mathematics and physics: An eternal golden braid     219
The intelligibility of the world     224
Algorithmic compressibility rides again     231
Continuity-a bridge too far?     233
The secret of the Universe     236
Is the Universe a computer?     238
The unknowable     242
Select Bibliography     247
Index     256
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