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The Universe is Alive

(Books, History, Nonfiction) Permanent link

As a convincing philosopher of science once argued, Thomas Kuhn, our scientific understanding of the world works within a paradigm, or model, or set of assumptions that unifies our view of it. The paradigm is supported by the discoveries it predicts, and vice versa. All scientists know, and almost everyone feels, that our latest scientific model of the world is that of the machine, given to us by the philosopher Rene Descartes (pronounced "Day Cart") and expressed in the revolutionary science of Newton. According to this model, the physical world is a giant mechanical clock, running and built on fully predictable and necessary laws, discoverable mostly through mathematics.

Many scientists today are realizing that, considering the discoveries in quantum physics, the machine model is leaving things out, is incomplete. Interestingly, The Matter Myth is an attempt of two scientists (professor of mathematical physics; astrophysicist) to overthrow the world as machine and replace it with the world as organic and living; which, they realize, is reminiscent of the old Aristotelian model of the world--the paradigm that was overthrown to begin with!

What I loved about this book is that, at the same time it argues for its' general thesis, it gives the reader a grand tour of the most difficult concepts in science--Einstein relativity, quantum theory, the big bang, evolution, cosmology--in a way that makes sense for people like me...people who cannot read Einstein, but want to check out a book at the library that explains him in a way I can understand.


The Matter Myth

Posted by Matt Smith at 04/19/2010 10:52:36 AM