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- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (27 February 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1480595608
- ISBN-13: 978-1480595606
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 14 x 1.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 77.1 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
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The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far: Why Are We Here? MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Super Audio CD - DSD
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About the Author
Lawrence Krauss, a renowned theoretical physicist, is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestsellers, A Universe from Nothing and The Physics of Star Trek. The recipient of numerous awards, Krauss is a regular columnist for newspapers and magazines, including The New Yorker, and he appears frequently on radio, television, and in feature films. Krauss lives in Portland, Oregon, and Tempe, Arizona.
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Thank goodness for the avoidance of the silliness such as "If you didn't have skin your insides would fall out" humour that I have come across that pervades many of these books. A Fortunate Universe is unfortunately the latest culprit of dumbing down. A book that should be interest to adults is almost written to appeal to children
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The story begins, more or less, with Galileo, then moves through Newton and the eighteenth century to Clerk Maxwell and beyond. Krauss has his own heroes here and I was delighted to see him enumerate them. It is fascinating to see the bases for the awarding of Nobel prizes and the personal dynamics between the recipients and the (unfairly) non-recipients.
The story is always a provisional one. As Plato put it in the Timaeus, scientific explanations are ‘likely stories’. As George Steiner has reminded us, science’s strength as well as its reality is that it can be superseded. As he puts it, both Aristotle’s view of Oedipus and Freud’s view of Oedipus have value, but there is only one second law of thermodynamics. On the other hand, while science ‘applies’ and is grounded in reality in a way that the humanities are not, its dimensions and ‘laws’ change. Newton was seen as a god in the early eighteenth century but before that century was out his notions were being challenged by Lagrange and Laplace. Thus, the story that Krauss tells is a provisional one, a fact that actually adds drama to its telling, particularly when key mathematical constructs are based on the existence of particles that have not yet been actually observed.
The bottom line is that the story is told very well, even though much of the material is extremely complex. One caveat with regard to the subtitle: potential readers should know that they are buying (or borrowing) a history of modern physics. This is a book about theoretical particle physics, quantum electrodynamics, and so on; it does not address the weighty question, ‘why are we here?’ How could it? In various asides Krauss makes it clear that he considers religion something that involves myth and superstition and that science has replaced metaphysics. He is certainly entitled to that position; it is a common one. On the other hand, as Hume reminded us, faith is not subject to rational critique, by definition. That is why they call it faith. Krauss uses biblical references as epigraphs (in a charming, not snarky way), but the notion that God works in mysterious ways is an important commonplace. It is also a questionable comment, given the fact that if there is a God it is highly unlikely that human observers are within any reasonable range of understanding His/Her ways, again, by definition. Meyer Abrams and others have commented on the right-angled nature of religious history. There is nothing; then there is everything. There is the fall; then there is the resurrection. God, as narrator/creator, likes to surprise us.
Bottom line: the question ‘why are we here?’ is not really addressed in Professor Krauss’s book; whether it even could be addressed—beyond the musings of theologians in what Wittgenstein would call their ‘language games’—is another question altogether.
Krauss sets out to explain 420 years of physics: from the first description of inertia given by Galileo in the 17th Century to the Grand Unified Field theory of the late 20th Century. And do it in a short 300 pages. Be warned... at times your head will swim. But considering the complexity of the concepts he is describing, this is to be expected. Remember Einstein's dictum: "Make everything as simple as possible. But not simpler." Krauss hews to Einstein's advice perfectly.
If you're coming to this book thinking you won't have to reread paragraphs, scratch your head, or really cogitate about what's being said, you're in for a rude awakening. But it's absolutely worth the effort. Krauss describes theory, experiment, and human accomplishment that is incredible. Can I say that I completely understood everything that he said? No. But his descriptions are clear enough that I understood most things, and vivid enough that I appreciated everything. And I loved the history and biography of the scientists behind the discoveries.
There are some annoyances with this book. Chief among them is there are no equations! (Save for the venerable E=mc^2) It's all words. Newton's Second Law and Planck's Law are well-known even to high school physics students. Could he not have presented them simply to show how concisely physics explains the natural world? Maxwell's equations are beautiful in presentation and breathtaking in significance; Krauss should have shown them. I don't know Dirac's Equation, but I would have loved to have seen it. Krauss constantly refers to the underlying math of the concepts he's explaining. Would that I could have seen some of it, if only in an appendix. I also tired of Krauss's incessant references to the Nobel prizes and university credentials of the physics luminaries he describes. I guess this is something physicists appreciate. You need some prerequisites to appreciate Krauss: background (i.e., college) in physics and math, a desire to think about what you're reading, and excitement about physics.
Finally, I did take up Krauss's challenge to answer the question: "How many piano tuners are there in Chicago? (p. 130)" The answer I came up with was 174. In Krauss's estimation, I did well. I wish I knew how many piano tuners there really are in Chicago to confirm my answer.
This book is highly recommended for anyone in the fields of science, engineering, and math. It is recommended for everyone else. Though my guess is your appreciation of this book is directly proportional to your facility with science.