Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. But was he right? Can the quantum theory of fields and Einstein's general theory of relativity, the two most accurate and successful theories in all of physics, be united in a single quantum theory of gravity? Can quantum and cosmos ever be combined? On this issue, two of the world's most famous physicists--Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time) and Roger Penrose (The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind)--disagree. Here they explain their positions in a work based on six lectures with a final debate, all originally presented at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
How could quantum gravity, a theory that could explain the earlier moments of the big bang and the physics of the enigmatic objects known as black holes, be constructed? Why does our patch of the universe look just as Einstein predicted, with no hint of quantum effects in sight? What strange quantum processes can cause black holes to evaporate, and what happens to all the information that they swallow? Why does time go forward, not backward?
In this book, the two opponents touch on all these questions. Penrose, like Einstein, refuses to believe that quantum mechanics is a final theory. Hawking thinks otherwise, and argues that general relativity simply cannot account for how the universe began. Only a quantum theory of gravity, coupled with the no-boundary hypothesis, can ever hope to explain adequately what little we can observe about our universe. Penrose, playing the realist to Hawking's positivist, thinks that the universe is unbounded and will expand forever. The universe can be understood, he argues, in terms of the geometry of light cones, the compression and distortion of spacetime, and by the use of twistor theory. With the final debate, the reader will come to realize how much Hawking and Penrose diverge in their opinions of the ultimate quest to combine quantum mechanics and relativity, and how differently they have tried to comprehend the incomprehensible.
Stephen Hawking's phenomenal, multimillion-copy bestseller, A Brief History of Time, introduced the ideas of this brilliant theoretical physicist to readers all over the world.Now, in a major publishing event, Hawking returns with a lavishly illustrated sequel that unravels the mysteries of the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book. The Universe in a Nutshell - Quantum mechanics
- General relativity
- 11-dimensional supergravity
- 10-dimensional membranes
- Black holes One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new book Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen's terms the principles that control our universe. Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science -- the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe -- from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks "to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe." With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through space-time. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut. The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live. Like its companion volume, A Brief History of Time, it conveys the excitement felt within the scientific community as the secrets of the cosmos reveal themselves.
Already climbing the bestseller lists-and garnering rave reviews--this little masterpiece sheds brilliant light on the equation that changed the world.
Bodanis begins by devoting chapters to each of the equation's letters and symbols, introducing the science and scientists forming the backdrop to Einstein's discovery--from Ole Roemer's revelation that the speed of light could be measured to Michael Faraday's pioneering work on energy fields. Having demystified the equation, Bodanis explains its science and brings it to life historically, making clear the astonishing array of discoveries and consequences it made possible. It would prove to be a beacon throughout the twentieth century, important to Ernest Rutherford, who discovered the structure of the atom, Enrico Fermi, who probed the nucleus, and Lise Meitner, who finally understood how atoms could be split wide open. And it has come to inform our daily lives, governing everything from the atomic bomb to a television's cathode-ray tube to the carbon dating of prehistoric paintings.
"A wealth of intriguing and lovely ideas." -- Information Technology & Learning.
While the beauty of mathematics is often discussed, the aesthetic appeal of the discipline is seldom demonstrated as clearly as in this intriguing journey into the realms where art and mathematics merge. Aimed at a wide range of ages and abilities, this engrossing book explores the possibilities of mathematical drawing through compass constructions and computer graphics.
Compass construction is an extremely ancient art, requiring no special skills other than the care it takes to place a compass point accurately. For the computer graphics part of the present work, however, readers will need some familiarity with basic high school mathematics-mainly algebra and trigonometry. Still, much of the book can be enjoyed even by "mathophobes," for it is about lines and circles and how to put them together to make various patterns, both abstract and natural.
One hundred and six full-page drawings, ranging from totally abstract to somewhat pictorial, demonstrate the possibilities of mathematical drawing and serve as inspiration to readers to carry out their own creative investigations. Among the illustrations are such intriguing configurationsas a five-point egg, golden ratio, 17-gon, plughole vortex, blancmange curve, Durer's pentagons, pentasnow, turtle geometry, and many more. In guiding students toward the comprehension and creation of such figures, the author explains helpful basic principles (of number, length and angle) as well as reviewing relevant fundamentals of trigonometry. In addition, he has provided numerous useful exercises (with answers} at the ends of the chapters, together with recommended further reading, detailed in the bibliography. 211 black-and-white illustrations. Bibliography. Index.
In the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, the renowned theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss took readers on an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe. Now, responding to requests for more as well as to a number of recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy, Krauss takes a provocative look at how the laws of physics relate to notions from our popular culture--not only Star Trek, but other films, shows, and popular lore--from Independence Day to Star Wars to The X-Files.With his books and popular lectures, Krauss has been compared to the late Carl Sagan as one of the preeminent scientists writing with humor and clarity for the general public. Beyond Star Trek establishes him as today's leading voice in the discussion of cutting-edge ideas that arise from our growing knowledge of the universe. Join him on a fun mind-bending journey through the nature of alien visitation, interstellar travel--including the very latest on warp-drive systems--time, consciousness, ESP, the probability of other life in the universe, and quantum reality.Once again Krauss has turned to his colleagues including the foremost theoretical physicists in the world, asking them about the greatest unsolved mysteries of the universe. The answers will surprise you.So buckle up and get ready for an exciting trip that takes the question "Could this ever really happen?" to new heights and will give you new insights into your favorite science fiction and your favorite universe
Albert Einstein's brain floats in a Tupperware bowl in a gray duffel bag in the trunk of a Buick Skylark barreling across America. Driving the car is journalist Michael Paterniti. Sitting next to him is an eighty-four-year-old pathologist named Thomas Harvey, who performed the autopsy on Einstein in 1955 -- then simply removed the brain and took it home. And kept it for over forty years.On a cold February day, the two men and the brain leave New Jersey and light out on I-70 for sunny California, where Einstein's perplexed granddaughter, Evelyn, awaits. And riding along as the imaginary fourth passenger is Einstein himself, an id-driven genius, the original galactic slacker with his head in the stars. Part travelogue, part memoir, part history, part biography, and part meditation, Driving Mr. Albert is one of the most unique road trips in modern literature.
If the cosmos is vast, says astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan, it is by no means silent. Nature, he writes, "delights in continuously sending us her notes of music." Like some far-off orchestra, it tantalizes us with fragments of a symphony, but the melody linking the bits and snatches of song is missing. The task of science is to unravel the secrets of that hidden melody, so that we can listen to the composition in all its glory.
In The Secret Melody, Trinh Xuan Thuan examines our many attempts to capture the music of nature and hear the cosmic fugue. First, as prelude, he describes the many other cosmologies that preceded the modern Big Bang theory of creation--the magical universe of cavemen, the ancient Chinese idea of the universe (which Thuan compares to a gigantic bureaucracy), the mathematical universe introduced by Pythagoras, and the heliocentric universe of Copernicus--and he explores the work of Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and other early scientists. He then describes in a clear, vivid, and poetic language our current understanding of the cosmos, painting a sharp picture of how modern astronomers study the universe, the equipment they use, the most prominent scientists, and the major discoveries. A mind-boggling portrait of the cosmos emerges in these pages. We read, for instance, of the incredible size of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, which is some 90,000 light-years in diameter, with several hundred billion stars orbiting its center. More amazing, we discover we live in a universe where stars, like human beings, are born, live, and die, leaving behind such strange and exotic objects as neutron stars and black holes; where time may expand and space may contract; and where billions of galaxies have sprung from a tiny primordial speck that was infinitely smaller than a hydrogen atom in a gigantic explosion, the Big Bang. And, of course, any examination of the origin and nature of the universe inevitably raises philosophical and religious questions, and Thuan examines these issues as well, presenting a provocative case for the anthropic principle (which argues that the universe has been fine-tuned to an extreme precision to produce living creatures with consciousness and intelligence) and illuminating the place of God in a Big Bang cosmology.
Here then is an intriguing look at modern cosmology, blending up-to-the-minute descriptions of the forefront of astronomy with thoughtful reflections on science's possible impact on philosophical and religious belief. With many beautiful and informative illustrations, The Secret Melody is an enthralling look at our endless efforts to understand the cosmos and to hear the music of the stars.
Quantum theorist Erwin Schrvdinger invented his now-famous cat to illustrate the apparently impossible conundrums associated with quantum physics. The cat lives in an opaque box with a fiendish device that randomly feeds it either food, allowing it to live, or poison, which kills it. But in the quantum world, all possibilities coexist and have a reality of their own, and they ensure that the cat is both alive and dead, simultaneously.
Who's Afraid of Schrvdinger's Cat? is a clear, concise explanation of the new sciences of quantum mechanics, chaos and complexity theory, relativity, new theories of mind, and the new cosmology. It studies worlds beyond the realm of common sense, and the new kinds of thinking that we need to understand ourselves, our minds, and our human place in the larger scheme of things.