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Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the…

Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe (edition 1987)

by Michio Kaku

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Title:Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe
Authors:Michio Kaku
Info:Bantam (1987), Paperback, 225 pages
Collections:Your library

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Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe by Michio Kaku


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I had been reading The Trouble with Physics: the Rise of String Theory, the Fall of Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin, but on the advice of a fellow LT member, I set it aside for the time being in favor of Beyond Einstein. The latter gives a relatively straightforward foundation for the issues and theories discussed in the former.

Kaku does present the "basic" concepts of quantum physics and relativity well enough for me to almost feel like I've gotten within spitting distance of understanding them. And he lays out the evolution of thinking on these issues, from the composition of the atom to the nature (and history) of the universe and time itself, in a coherent manner, as well.

The book does have some problems of presentation, however: there is some very clunky writing in it. For one thing, Kaku, or more likely his co-writer, Jennifer Trainer Thompson, suffers from adverb-itis of the sort normally reserved for bad spy novels. When you tell me something is "incredibly small," for example, my general reaction is, "Well, if it's incredible, then I don't believe it." Because it's not credible, you see. OK, I know you got that. But mostly, when a scientist tells me that anything regarding science and/or scientific theory is "amazingly" or "incredibly" anything, I feel like I'm being talked down to.

Also, there are too many "cause and effect" mashups for me. For example, we read this (be prepared for your eyes to glaze over, but try to hang with me):

"Another example of O(3) symmetry is the atom itself. Because the Schrodinger equation, which is the basis of all quantum mechanics, is invariant under rotations, the solutions to the equation (which are atoms) should also have this symmetry. The fact that atoms have this rotational symmetry is a direct consequence of the O(3) symmetry of the Schrodinger equation."

OK, I don't really understand what that all means, either. With a book like this, I just try to read it through and accept as much as my feeble brain can make out. But as a long-time copy editor, one thing there jumps out at me: The fact that atoms have rotational symmetry is not a consequence of an equation. One might say that our belief or even our knowledge that atoms have rotational symmetry is a consequence of our faith in that equation, but the symmetry is not a consequence of the equation. I found enough such instances that I found them distracting and worth mentioning. But, still, the book did present the issues I wanted to begin learning about, and I am ready to move on (although not immediately) to another volume on the subject. ( )
  rocketjk | May 16, 2015 |
Considering how many years have passed since this book's publication, it isn't so very bad an introduction to the ideas of particle physics and cosmology, and superstring theory. I won't say it's the most accessible book about heavy science I've read, but it's comprehensive enough and is a good springboard. My edition was purchased in the 80s when the book was newly published, and so is dated, which somewhat amused me. I plan to read another book I picked up with promises to explain the various fields and ideas of physics for dummies like me to grasp before I move on to more books that attempt to bring down these complex thoughts to average joesephines like me. We shall see what sort of success I achieve. ( )
  Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
Michio Kaku is very good at writing about highly complex topics in a way that is accessible to the laymen. Beyond Einstein describes the beginning of Superstring Theory and the major players in the field. No mathematics or advanced physics are required to enjoy this book. Just a keen interest to know a bit about superstrings and the potential that this field may have on our understanding of the universe. The book was written about 15 years ago when superstrings were all the rage but the book is still very topical and provides an excellent primer on the science. ( )
  joeteo1 | Jul 14, 2010 |
This is the book that gave me some idea what string theory was about and totally captured my imagination (maybe more and in different ways than Kaku would appreciate). It's a good book for the lay person to understand a liittle about some of what's going on in science. ( )
1 vote Airycat | Nov 30, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michio Kakuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thompson, Jennifersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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A new theory is rocking the foundations of modern physics, rapidly overturning cherished but obsolete notions about our universe and replacing them with new mathematics of breathtaking beauty and elegance.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385477813, Paperback)

Beyond Einstein takes readers on an exciting excursion into the discoveries that have led scientists to the brightest new prospect in theoretical physics today -- superstring theory. What is superstring theory and why is it important? This revolutionary breakthrough may well be the
fulfillment of  Albert Einstein's lifelong dream of a Theory of Everything, uniting the laws of physics into a single description explaining all the known forces in the universe. Co-authored by one of the leading pioneers in superstrings, Michio Kaku, and completely revised and updated with the newest groundbreaking research, the book approaches scientific questions with the excitement of a detective story, offering a fascinating look at the new science that may make the impossible possible.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

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The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe given by Dr. James Archer.

(summary from another edition)

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