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The World Within the World by John D. Barrow
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The World Within the World

by John D. Barrow

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This book looks really interesting. Unfortunately the text is so dense and obtuse that I've never managed to finish it. ( )
  Arthwollipot | Sep 30, 2008 |
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Epigraph
All these have never yet been seen--
But scientists who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so . . .
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

Hilaire Belloc

Art is a lie that lets us
recognize the truth.

Pablo Picasso

The art of writing is the art of applying
the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

Mary Heaton Vorse
Dedication
To Lois and Louise
First words
Behind our ever-changing experiences of the world lies a changeless world of order and certainty, impartial to our actions and desires; a world of which we are a part, but upon which we can exert no discernible influence; a world that cares not one whit whether its abstruse operations are intelligible to us, yet without which there would be no Cosmos and no life.
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Book description
Davvero esistono “lì fuori” leggi di natura, che stanno in attesa di essere scoperte, indipendenti dal nostro modo di pensare, o esse rappresentano soltanto la descrizione più conveniente di ciò che abbiamo visto? Come è nata l’idea stessa di “leggi di natura”? Queste costituiscono la realtà profonda o sono soltanto pezzi di un regolamento che ci siamo dati per organizzare meglio la nostra conoscenza del mondo? o semplici paletti che piantiamo e ci lasciamo alle spalle come segnali via via che procediamo nella giungla dell’esperienza? È possibile che non esistano affatto leggi di natura? Forse esse, e anche l’universo che da esse sembra regolato, sono del tutto creazioni della nostra mente: un’illusione che scompare appena cessiamo di pensarvi. Ma allora, che cosa accadrebbe, se non ci fossero osservatori dell’universo?». Interrogativi di questo genere, che incontriamo sulla soglia del Mondo dentro il mondo, sarebbero suonati eccentrici fino a qualche anno fa. Oggi, al contrario, circoscrivono il centro stesso della riflessione scientifica, dove infuria ormai una disputa appassionata fra teorie del tutto, che vorrebbero avvolgere gli eventi del mondo, sin dai suoi inizi, in un’unica rete teorica. Una delle più sconvolgenti fra tali teorie è stata sviluppata proprio da Barrow e da un illustre fisico, Frank J. Tipler: la teoria del principio antropico. Estremamente ardua e paradossale, essa riesce a mettere in connessione l’immensità dell’universo con la sua percezione da parte dell’occhio dell’uomo. E proprio nelle pagine di questo libro si troverà la prima esposizione discorsiva di tale teoria, accompagnata dalle varie obiezioni che essa ha incontrato. Ma il disegno di Barrow è qui piuttosto di usare la nuova teoria, insieme a molte altre, discusse con sapienza e un’alta capacità esplicativa, per mostrare come tutte convergano verso quegli interrogativi ultimi che a lungo la scienza aveva accantonato definendoli, con malcelato spregio, «problemi filosofici». Eppure, non è certo la filosofia ad aver fatto breccia nel duro cuore degli scienziati, insinua Barrow. È la natura stessa – o almeno la scoperta di «alcuni degli insoliti modi, secondo i quali sembra che essa operi» – a obbligarci a questo passo. Il mondo dentro il mondo è apparso per la prima volta nel 1988.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192861085, Paperback)

Until recently "popular science" has produced neither rigorously scientific works nor especially popular ones. Only in the last three or four years have scientists begun to realize the field's full potential with books aimed at the intelligent non-scientist presenting more challenging subjects previously reserved for scholars. Still, none of these studies fully addresses the question of whether laws of Nature really exist and are just waiting to be discovered; or how the notion of laws of Nature arose and how they can be so well described by mathematics; or even how our own existence limits what we can learn about the Universe.
John D. Barrow, renowned scientist and philosopher of science, fills the gap by responding to these and myriad other questions in this remarkably wide-ranging interdisciplinary study of the evolving concept of laws of Nature. Tackling the philosophical and theological problems raised by modern physics and mathematics, he goes well beyond the familiar ground of relativity and quantum theory. From the magical notions of primitive cultures to the latest ideas about chaos, black holes, inflation, and superstrings, he traces the gradual development of our understanding of what laws of Nature mean and how we have come to know them. Written in a serious but non-technical style, The World Within the World will fascinate scientists, philosophers, and general readers alike.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Until recently "popular science" has produced neither rigorously scientific works nor especially popular ones. Only in the last three or four years have scientists begun to realize the field's full potential with books aimed at the intelligent non-scientist presenting more challenging subjects previously reserved for scholars. Still, none of these studies fully addresses the question of whether laws of Nature really exist and are just waiting to be discovered; or how the notion of laws of Nature arose and how they can be so well described by mathematics; or even how our own existence limits what we can learn about the Universe. John D. Barrow, renowned scientist and philosopher of science, fills the gap by responding to these and myriad other questions in this remarkably wide-ranging interdisciplinary study of the evolving concept of laws of Nature. Tackling the philosophical and theological problems raised by modern physics and mathematics, he goes well beyond the familiar ground of relativity and quantum theory. From the magical notions of primitive cultures to the latest ideas about chaos, black holes, inflation, and superstrings, he traces the gradual development of our understanding of what laws of Nature mean and how we have come to know them. Written in a serious but non-technical style, The World Within the World will fascinate scientists, philosophers, and general readers alike.… (more)

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