The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning [NOOK Book]

Overview

Why discovering the limits to science may be the most powerful discovery of all

How much can we know about the world? In this book, physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of existence, the origin of the universe, the nature of reality, and the limits of knowledge. In so doing, he reaches a provocative conclusion: science, like religion, is fundamentally limited as a tool for understanding the ...
See more details below
The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$16.49
BN.com price
(Save 45%)$29.99 List Price

Overview

Why discovering the limits to science may be the most powerful discovery of all

How much can we know about the world? In this book, physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of existence, the origin of the universe, the nature of reality, and the limits of knowledge. In so doing, he reaches a provocative conclusion: science, like religion, is fundamentally limited as a tool for understanding the world. As science and its philosophical interpretations advance, we face the unsettling recognition of how much we don’t know. Gleiser shows that by abandoning the dualistic model that divides reality into the known and the unknown, we can embark on a third way based on the acceptance of our limitations. Only then, he argues, will we be truly able to experience freedom; for to be free in an age of science we cannot turn science into a god. Gleiser ultimately offers an uplifting exploration of humanity’s longing to conquer the unknown, and of science’s power to transform and inspire.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The quest goes on, always presenting us with new things to wonder about and to wonder at. Without that sense of wonder, as Mr. Gleiser’s excellent book makes clear, there would be no point in doing science at all.”
—John Gribbin, Wall Street Journal

“Gleiser, who puts his faith in ‘humility and hope,’ writes with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, and without assuming that our current state of scientific knowledge is any more complete or final than that of previous generations.”
Columbia Dispatch

“The process that shapes public policy often includes debate about what scientific evidence does, can and can’t tell us. That debate can be enriched by this book.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Gleiser covers a broad swath of subjects—from cognition and curved space to particle physics, superstring theory, and multiverses—with a thoughtful, accessible style that balances philosophy with hard science. His island imagery will capture readers’ imagination as it examines the ideas that unnerve us even as they illuminate our world.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Island of Knowledge is a history of the mind, its gift for finding ideas in things. The brilliance of centuries of philosophic and scientific inquiry, never more remarkable than at present, bears a profound resemblance to the brilliance it discovers in the universe. Marcelo Gleiser makes us feel what a privilege it is to be human.”
—Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, and author of Gilead and Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self

“We've come to know far more than our ancestors could possibly have imagined—including the depth of our ignorance. In Gleiser's lucid narrative, that marvelous paradox comes alive.”
—Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, and author of The Lightness of Being

“Marcelo Gleiser brings a physicist's knowledge, a philosopher's wisdom, and a poet's language to elucidate our largest questions. If you finish The Island of Knowledge with all the same opinions with which you began it, then turn to page one and start reading again.”
—Rebecca Goldstein, MacArthur Fellow, and author of Plato at the Googleplex

“Articulate, elegant, and at times poignant, The Island of Knowledge is a magnificent account of humanity's struggle to understand its place in the cosmos. Starting from ancient knowledge of the motions of stars and planets and progressing to contemporary scientific theories of the origins of space and time, Gleiser shows how our efforts to comprehend the universe have transformed it into something rich and strange.”
—Seth Lloyd, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, and author of Programming the Universe

“Gleiser writes very well. He introduces the necessary concepts along the way, and is remarkably accurate while using a minimum of technical details. Some anecdotes from his own research and personal life are nicely integrated with the narrative and he has a knack for lyrical imagery which he uses sparsely but well timed to make his points.”
—Sabine Hossenfelder, Back Reaction blog

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-22
Gleiser (Natural Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy/Dartmouth Coll.; A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe, 2010, etc.) seeks an answer to the question, "Can we make sense of the world without belief?"The author suggests that even scientific giants like Newton and Einstein depended on "intuition and personal prejudice" to extend their knowledge, knowing full well the limitations of their theories. Scientific knowledge has advanced since their groundbreaking discoveries, but so, too, has our understanding of its inherent limitations. Gleiser contends that although we can extend our understanding of how the universe works, our efforts to penetrate reality will always include an element of unsubstantiated belief. The author traces the history of science, including Aristotle's Earth-centered model of the heavens, which was upended by Copernicus and his successors. This led to the achievements of classical physicists such as Newton and James Maxwell in understanding gravity and electromagnetism and culminated with Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Then, Gleiser tackles current cosmological theories—e.g., the Big Bang, the expanding universe and the possibilities that it is only one of infinitely many other universes. For readers unfamiliar with the material, this will be a lot to comprehend, even though the author uses descriptive metaphors to make it more accessible. Gleiser also examines the anomalies of quantum physics, such as the odd behaviors of electrons or photons that appear to be particles in some experiments and waves in others, and he gives examples of electrons that appear to communicate instantaneously, a step back to Newton that Einstein criticized "as spooky action at-a-distance." Gleiser ends with an examination of information theory.Readers may find this to be an overly ambitious attempt to provide a historical perspective to the scientific enterprise that is more confusing than illuminating.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465080731
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 139,922
  • File size: 768 KB

Meet the Author

Marcelo Gleiser is Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. He has published numerous popular works, including an essay, “Emergent Realities in the Cosmos,” which was featured in 2003’s Best American Science Writing, and three previous books: The Dancing Universe, The Prophet and the Astronomer, and A Tear at the Edge of Creation.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)