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The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos…

The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Neil Turok

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824147,013 (4)6
Title:The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos
Authors:Neil Turok
Info:House of Anansi Press (2012), Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2013

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The Universe Within by Neil Turok (2012)

  1. 00
    The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, & the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick (rakerman)
    rakerman: The Clockwork Universe is to some extent a history of science ending with Newton as the key figure; The Universe Within also provides a history of science but starts with Newton and then moves on to quantum physicists.

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The Perimeter Institute head offers a general-audience take on fundamental physics and cosmology. Skeptical of inflation cosmology (and string theory and multiverse notions) and co-formulator of a particular brand of cyclic cosmology (_Endless Universe_, 2008), he inexplicably sketches the latter theory in such a confusing way that I ended up understanding it less well than I had before. Temporarily admitting some math into his narrative, he presents a very compact and abstract unification equation that combines insights of Schrödinger, Feynman, Euler, Planck, Einstein, Newton, Maxwell, Yang, Mills, Dirac, Kobayashi, Maskawa, Yukawa, and Higgs. He also reflects on societal effects. "We are analog beings living in a digital world, facing a quantum [-informational] future." (p 149)
  fpagan | Apr 27, 2013 |
A good description of the evolution of physics knowledge down to. The present, and an optimistic view of the human condition and human potential. It leaves one praying that we don't get hauled back into the dark ages or even destroy ourselves. ( )
  RobertP | Jan 6, 2013 |
I love scientists who make physics comprehensible. After hearing Neil Turok interviewed on Quirks & Quarks, I knew that I needed to read his Massey Lectures.

In The Universe Within, Turok covers every scale imaginable. He is equally at home explaining quantum mechanics and the vast scope of the universe. Despite this book being a collection of public lectures, Turok doesn't overly dumb down his material. There were moments in the book where I reread a few paragraphs and was thankful for the paper copy! This is especially true when Turok elucidates the formula that describes everything that modern physics understands about, well, everything!

There are many good popular physics books on the shelf. This book is set apart by Turok's humanity. He has a deep connection to Africa and has worked diligently to set up advanced physics schools where people who wouldn't have a hope of travelling abroad to study at MIT or Oxford can research. His excitement at the thought of mobilizing the minds of the overlooked developing world is contagious.

Another pleasantly surprising element of the book was his little swipe at the new atheists. He quotes philosopher David Albert's response to Dawkin's harpooning of religion (in an afterword to Krauss's A Universe from Nothing). "All that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don't know, dumb" (247).

I don't know what Turok's religious views are (his respect for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin makes me wonder) but his respect for mystery and discovery is inspirational. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Dec 17, 2012 |
While these would make good Perimeter Institute lectures, the content presentation I think is a bit too technical for the general-audience Massey Lectures. Turok moves very quickly through a lot of ground, with discovery piling on top of discovery. ( )
  rakerman | Dec 10, 2012 |
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Turok explores the transformative scientific discovers of the past three centuries, from classical mechanics to the nature of light and the evolution of the cosmos, and shows how they created shifts in the organization of society. He argues that we are on the cusp of another major transformation: the coming quantum revolution that will supplant our current digital age.… (more)

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