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When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions…

When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought (original 2018; edition 2018)

by Jim Holt (Author)

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221795,580 (3.72)None
"A collection of essays on philosophy, mathematics, and science, and the people who pursue them"--
Title:When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought
Authors:Jim Holt (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2018), 386 pages

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When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt (2018)


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The format necessarily creates a lot of repetitions and doesn't allow for any in-depth explanations of any but the most superficial elements of the science discussed but it contains a lot of interesting observations and historical notes. It also questions some common assumptions showing alternate views and is probably the first book I ever read that doesn't propagate the now tiresome myth of Ada Lovelace. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Since I first read it a couple of years ago, I've returned more often to Jim Holt's excellent "Why Does the World Exist?" than any other book. His off-the-cuff conversations with a gaggle of famous philosophers, cosmologists, and astrophysicists let the lay reader grapple with enormously complex ideas related to a single world-class conundrum, and the commentaries that followed each chapter showed the strengths and weaknesses of each argument and highlighted how good the author is at making fantastically complex philosophical ideas accessible to non-PhD candidates.

"When Einstein Walked with Gödel isn't quite that good, but it's still a worthwhile read. Holt's ability to make mind-stretching ideas accessible is still evident on every page, but this one is basically a collections of essays, mostly short, that Holt's written over the years. There's a lot of interesting stuff here, of course. We hear about different views of infinity, about whether Einstein thought time actually existed, about string theory, and about people who equate numbers to Platonic forms. Holt takes the troubled, alluring Ada Lovelace down a peg and takes a potshot at Richard Dawkins. He considers the ultimate fate of the universe. Amazingly enough, I think that I sort of understand most of what's going on here, and I've never taken a college-level science course.

At the end of the day, though, I missed the aforementioned book's laser focus and found myself wishing that most of these chapters were longer. But who knows? I plan on reading more Holt in the future, of course. And "Why Does the World Exist?" seems to have gotten much more traction than you'd figure a book with that title would, so I'm hoping he'll have something new out soon. This book doesn't quite live up to it's snazzy title, and even its best moments are spoonful-sized, but you can still consider this review a recommendation. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Oct 18, 2020 |
Very good collection of essays/articles about a wide range of topics in science, mathematics, philosophy and other disciplines. Was most enlightened by the articles on mathematicians (who apparently tend toward the slightly crazy). Thought the collection lagged a bit in the last third, but did enjoy the chapter on the philosophical feud related to naming and reference. Topics and people discussed definitely added to my reading list. ( )
  23Goatboy23 | Jan 17, 2020 |
When Einstein Walked With Godel is a series of interesting Essays on various ideas that intrigued the author over the past 20 years or so. I am assuming that he took the title from the walks that Einstein and Godel would take together back when they were both at Princeton.

It discusses many different ideas, from Time and the notions of its passing to Thermodynamics and the End of the Universe as we know it. In the preface, we find the considerations that Jim Holt took when including an essay in this collection.

I really enjoyed this book, it covers a lot of ground and doesn’t really have a focus except for stuff that the author thought was cool. I agree that these are interesting and neat subjects. We find essays that explore whether or not the Internet is making us stupid, essays on cosmology and pure mathematics, essays on how computers were developed and so on. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Not solely about Einstein and Gödel, and not an integrated body of new writing. Rather it's a lot of previously published pieces written "over the last two decades" (exact timings not given) on physics, mathematics, computer science, cosmology, philosophy, etc. I enjoyed most of them, including their many discussions about books I've read and briefly commented on myself.
  fpagan | Mar 29, 2019 |
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