Davies used to write books for laymen, but this time he gets very technical. It is an advanced and well-written book on state-of-the-art science. But to me, it was a disappointment, because I'm moderately interested in technicalities. Most of the book is like this:
"In response to the arrival of a signal from the body of the neuron, the gates open and allow sodium ions to flow from the outside to the inside, thereby reversing the voltage. Next, a different set of ion channels open to allow potassium ions to flow the other way—from the inside to the outside—restoring the original voltage. The polarity reversal typically lasts for only a few thousandths of a second. This transient disturbance triggers the same process in an adjacent section of the axon’s membrane, and that in turn sets off the next section, and so on. The signal thus ripples down the axon towards another neuron." (pp. 196-97).
Davies recounts the history of science, including developments in mathematics, quantum physics, information theory, brain research, etc. But the average hyper-intellectual would already know most of the science history. The book is utterly demanding, and the average person would experience it as tedious. The author's central concept is this:
LIFE = MATTER + INFORMATION
Comparatively, the medieval version is like this:
LIFE = MATTER + SPIRIT
Here, spirit is what God breathed into Adam's nostrils. On this view, we are connected to a divine transcendental mind through a kind of umbilical cord of spirit. Our conscious awareness has an otherworldly origin. This actually provides an explanation of sorts. As I see it, Davies's equation does not. It could provide an explanation for life going on "in the dark", without conscious awareness. But since life goes on "in the light", it has not sufficient explanatory power. It does not help to say that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" and that "consciousness is an emergent property".
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane; 1 edition (5 February 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0241360935
- ISBN-13: 978-0241360934
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.8 x 23.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 299 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)