Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

Overview


From the formation of the universe to the theory of matter to life on earth, Richard Morris delivers a clear and concise picture of what we know, how we know it, and what the limits to future knowledge might be. Morris begins by discussing various ideas about the ultimate destiny of the universe: whether it will continue expanding or eventually collapse. Next he addresses the search for a unified theory of matter that will encompass the four known forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and ...
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Overview


From the formation of the universe to the theory of matter to life on earth, Richard Morris delivers a clear and concise picture of what we know, how we know it, and what the limits to future knowledge might be. Morris begins by discussing various ideas about the ultimate destiny of the universe: whether it will continue expanding or eventually collapse. Next he addresses the search for a unified theory of matter that will encompass the four known forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Finally, Morris looks at the origin of life. Once conditions were hospitable, life evolved on Earth almost immediately. But how? With wit and insight Morris takes the reader on a tour through some of the more profound aspects of contemporary science.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prolific science writer Morris (Achilles in the Quantum Universe) explains current cosmological theories, offers a history of modern physics and summarizes some questions that vex philosophers of science in this accessible, almost garrulous, three-part work. Part one describes "what we know and how we know it" about the Big Bang, from the first few seconds of our cosmos to its probable ultimate fate. Part two, the most substantial, zips through 20th-century discoveries about the nature of matter, from Planck and Einstein to quantum chromodynamics and then to GUTs (Grand Unified Theories) and their wacky but promising successors, the superstring theories. Part three backtracks to Einstein and Newton to consider the role of imagination in scientific discovery, describing others' ideas about scientific and artistic creativity. (Are laws of physics created, or discovered? And how do scientists know when their theories are true?) Lay readers are sure to pick up intriguing ideas from all three sections, but the book coheres only tenuously (in that all three parts have to do with what's "real" and what we can observe). It is most enjoyable as a set of three essays rather than as a continuous argument. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
This book brings cosmology and the unified theory of matter into lay people's terms, beginning with the creation of the universe and taking the reader through the most recent research in cosmology, as well as the four forces of nature, gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces, and electromagnetism. Morris, a Ph.D. in physics who has written several books on science and the scientific endeavor, also explores the creative processes of human imagination, suggesting that looking at human scientific errors can help us better understand how the successes have advanced our knowledge of the natural world. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Here's a look at the essentials of three major areas of scientific knowledge, from a popular science writer. Morris (Achilles in the Quantum Universe, 1997, etc.) points out that certain areas of physics are presently in a state of rapid flux. In the wake of the flood of new discoveries, and the flood of speculation they have encouraged, he proposes to give lay readers a clear overview of what is definitively known at present, so they can judge new theories in context. The first two sections here, therefore, look at the fundamental ideas of cosmology and particle physics. The Big Bang, contends Morris, is as firmly established as any fact in science. He outlines the evolution of the cosmos since that defining event, with summaries of the scientific evidence from as early as one second afterward, with a strong historical perspective. (However, he does seem overly taken with the anthropic principle, which proposes that the universe is as it is because otherwise advanced life forms would be impossible.) On the other end of the cosmic scale, the structure of matter has been steadily refined downward in size. Morris shows how Einstein established the reality of atoms, and how the giants of quantum physics refined the picture of the inner structure of the atom, right down to the mysterious quark. Gravity still resists easy unification with the other forces of the universe; at present, the most elegant picture of ultimate microcosmic truth appears to be superstring theory, postulating an 11-dimensional space-time continuum. Morris concludes with an extended examination of the scientific imagination, noting that style and personality play as great a role in scientific discovery as in artisticcreation. This is in many ways his most provocative and original section. For the rest, Morris goes over familiar territory clearly and entertainingly, with plenty of interesting detail. Workmanlike coverage of important scientific topics. (Illustrations, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568581408
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,439,287
  • Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Richard Morris earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1968. He is the author of more than 20 books, 10 of which are about science, including Evolution and Human Nature. He lives in San Francisco.
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Table of Contents

What We Know and How We Know It 1
Pt. 1 Cosmic Evolution
Preface 11
Ch. 1 The Beginning 14
Ch. 2 When the Universe Was One Second Old 27
Ch. 3 The Creation of Life 42
Ch. 4 The Fate of the Universe 56
Ch. 5 Universes without End, or the Cosmos Is a Big Nothing 70
Pt. 2 The Search for a Theory of Matter
Prelude: "Was It a God That Wrote These Signs?" 79
Ch. 1 Too Many Particles 87
Interlude: Einstein's Unified Field Theory 104
Ch. 2 The Hunting of the Quark 112
Ch. 3 Superstrings and Other Entanglements 125
Epilogue 136
Pt. 3 The Scientific Imagination
Foreword 141
Ch. 1 Intuitions of a Deeper Reality 144
Ch. 2 How to Tell What Is Science from What Isn't Science 169
Ch. 3 When the World Changed 192
Ch. 4 Platonists and Kantians 208
Appendix 226
Index 229
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