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Beyond Reason: Eight Great Problems That…

Beyond Reason: Eight Great Problems That Reveal the Limits of Science (original 2004; edition 2004)

by A. K. Dewdney

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"In the past two centuries, we have witnessed an unparalleled expansion in scientific and technical horizons. But with our longer view of things, the horizon is now interrupted, here and there, by walls. With our newfound knowledge and technical abilities has come an understanding of the limitations of science and technology. Beyond Reason provides a mind-bending exploration not into what is doable and knowable - but what is undoable and unknowable." "Temporary barriers to understanding are sometimes swept away by knowledge, each advance revealing new vistas. But some barriers appear to be permanent. Author A. K. Dewdney explores these grand limitations that stand like granite walls around our scientific and technological enterprise. These are not the barriers of ignorance, but knowledge. It is perhaps only ignorance that prevents us from traveling through time; certainly no theory yet prohibits the possibility. Yet the presence of chaos in our atmospheric system implies rather strongly that we shall never predict the weather much better than we do now." "Beyond Reason explores these barriers and the theories that give them form and substance. We shall apparently never travel faster than the speed of light, nor shall we ever build a perpetual motion machine that performs useful work. After laying the foundations of each theory, illuminated by stories of the scientists who discovered them, A. K. Dewdney then goes on to ask "What if?" Is there a way out? Are there no secret passages through these walls?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
Title:Beyond Reason: Eight Great Problems That Reveal the Limits of Science
Authors:A. K. Dewdney
Info:Wiley (2004), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:popsci, eb

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Beyond Reason: Eight Great Problems That Reveal the Limits of Science by A. K. Dewdney (2004)



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I understood the first two-fifths of the book (hence two out of five stars), but completely lost him from that point forward. I suppose I grasp the cosmos and quantum theories much better than I do elevated theoretical mathematical concepts. No matter, wanting to know this stuff is almost as joyous an experience as knowing this stuff. One day it'll stick. The author does a poor job, I have to say, of successfully explaining anything to an uninitiated layman. He explained statistics in a much more teacherly manner in his 200% book. My mind expanded anyway and I enjoyed. Not recommended for non-dorks. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
The book under review titled Beyond Reason - 8 great problems that reveal the limits of science by A.K. Dewdney is an excellent book.

The author was the member of the computer science department at the university of Western Ontario and at the university of Waterloo for a combined period of thirty years before retiring!

His research in unknowable particles, unpredictable systems, unprovable theorems, impossible programs and intractable problems reflects in this well written book.

In eight chapters the scientist's mind explores the following eight great problems that limits the science:

1. It is not possible to build a machine that runs forever with no source of energy, yet produces usable energy.
2. It is not possible for matter or energy to travel faster than the speed of light in a vaccum.
3. The detailed behaviour of any quantum system, whether it consists of electrons,photons or atomic particles cannot be predicted by any mathematical law or computer program.
4. There are some classical systems (such as the weather or planetary motions) the long term behaviour of which can not be predicted by any mathematical law (or computer)
5. It is not possible using only rule and compass, to construct a square equal in area to that of a given circle.
6. There are some theorems (true mathematical statements) that we will never be able to prove.
7. There are some yes/no questions,perfectly well defined, that no computer no matter how fast or powerful can answer.
8. There are some mathematical problems that computers can solve only by taking an exponential amount of time.

In the first chapter Dewdney deals with the impossible perpetual motion.

He quotes a very rare Sanskrit book on astronomy, Siddhanta Chudamani, which describes a self-turning wheel.One of the slokas describe a self turning wheel. It states that if the wheel was properly supported, it would run for ever!

Nobody has tried to construct this wheel, so far! The other chapters deal with the other problems in detail.

Each chapter of the book explains in detail the mathematics involved in these eight problems which limits the science.
A list of reference books along with an index is very useful for the readers.

I strongly recommend this book for the people who are interested in Science and Religion. 224 pages of fun!

Dewdney's other books, A Mathematical Mystery Tour, The Planiverse, Yes, We have no neutrons, 200% of nothing were all well received by the scholars.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Beyond-Reason-by-AK-Dewdney&id=3717446] Beyond Reason by AK Dewdney ( )
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  audreyl1969 | May 27, 2010 |
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Introduction -- Where Reason Cannot Go -- We all live with limitations -- some natural, some rule-based. We cannot fly unaided, nor can we beat the ace of spades with the deuce. This book is about the grander limitations that stand like granite walls around our scientific and technological enterprise. "This far and no farther," they seem to say, an ancient prohibition from sacred ground. I locate these barriers "beyond reason" because reason, even though it found them, sees no way around them.
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