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"Fundamentals might be the perfect book for the winter of this plague year. . . . Wilczek writes with breathtaking economy and clarity, and his pleasure in his subject is palpable." --The New York Times Book Review One of our great contemporary scientists reveals the ten profound insights that illuminate what everyone should know about the physical world In Fundamentals, N "Fundamentals might be the perfect book for the winter of this plague year. . . . Wilczek writes with breathtaking economy and clarity, and his pleasure in his subject is palpable." --The New York Times Book Review One of our great contemporary scientists reveals the ten profound insights that illuminate what everyone should know about the physical world In Fundamentals, Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek offers the reader a simple yet profound exploration of reality based on the deep revelations of modern science. With clarity and an infectious sense of joy, he guides us through the essential concepts that form our understanding of what the world is and how it works. Through these pages, we come to see our reality in a new way--bigger, fuller, and stranger than it looked before. Synthesizing basic questions, facts, and dazzling speculations, Wilczek investigates the ideas that form our understanding of the universe: time, space, matter, energy, complexity, and complementarity. He excavates the history of fundamental science, exploring what we know and how we know it, while journeying to the horizons of the scientific world to give us a glimpse of what we may soon discover. Brilliant, lucid, and accessible, this celebration of human ingenuity and imagination will expand your world and your mind.


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"Fundamentals might be the perfect book for the winter of this plague year. . . . Wilczek writes with breathtaking economy and clarity, and his pleasure in his subject is palpable." --The New York Times Book Review One of our great contemporary scientists reveals the ten profound insights that illuminate what everyone should know about the physical world In Fundamentals, N "Fundamentals might be the perfect book for the winter of this plague year. . . . Wilczek writes with breathtaking economy and clarity, and his pleasure in his subject is palpable." --The New York Times Book Review One of our great contemporary scientists reveals the ten profound insights that illuminate what everyone should know about the physical world In Fundamentals, Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek offers the reader a simple yet profound exploration of reality based on the deep revelations of modern science. With clarity and an infectious sense of joy, he guides us through the essential concepts that form our understanding of what the world is and how it works. Through these pages, we come to see our reality in a new way--bigger, fuller, and stranger than it looked before. Synthesizing basic questions, facts, and dazzling speculations, Wilczek investigates the ideas that form our understanding of the universe: time, space, matter, energy, complexity, and complementarity. He excavates the history of fundamental science, exploring what we know and how we know it, while journeying to the horizons of the scientific world to give us a glimpse of what we may soon discover. Brilliant, lucid, and accessible, this celebration of human ingenuity and imagination will expand your world and your mind.

30 review for Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality

  1. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Q: Some things, we must learn. The world is built from a few basic building blocks, which follow strict but strange and unfamiliar rules. Some things, we must unlearn. (c) Q: Quantum mechanics reveals that you cannot observe something without changing it, after all. Each person receives unique messages from the external world. Imagine that you and a friend sit together in a very dark room, observing a dim light. Make the light very, very dim, say, by covering it with layers of cloth. Eventually, bot Q: Some things, we must learn. The world is built from a few basic building blocks, which follow strict but strange and unfamiliar rules. Some things, we must unlearn. (c) Q: Quantum mechanics reveals that you cannot observe something without changing it, after all. Each person receives unique messages from the external world. Imagine that you and a friend sit together in a very dark room, observing a dim light. Make the light very, very dim, say, by covering it with layers of cloth. Eventually, both you and your friend will see only intermittent flashes. But you will see flashes at different times. The light has broken up into individual quanta, and quanta cannot be shared. At this fundamental level, we experience separate worlds. (c)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    This is a book about fundamental lessons we can learn from a study of the physical world...To me, those fundamental lessons include much more than bare facts about how the physical world works. Those facts are both powerful and strangely beautiful, to be sure. But the style of thought that allowed us to discover them is a great achievement, too. And it’s important to consider what those fundamentals suggest about how we humans fit into the big picture. In his preface to Fundamentals: Ten Keys This is a book about fundamental lessons we can learn from a study of the physical world...To me, those fundamental lessons include much more than bare facts about how the physical world works. Those facts are both powerful and strangely beautiful, to be sure. But the style of thought that allowed us to discover them is a great achievement, too. And it’s important to consider what those fundamentals suggest about how we humans fit into the big picture. In his preface to Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, theoretical physicist, mathematician and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek explains that his aim with this book is to “convey the central messages of modern physics as simply as possible” — and as valiant as his efforts seem to be, and as essentially interesting as I find the material, I’m afraid that these “central messages” conveyed “simply” did strain the limits of my comprehension. This might not be exactly the layman’s general interest science book that I hoped it would be, but Wilczek’s writing is straightforward, often engagingly personal, and he is obviously (and contagiously) filled with awe for what he does more perfectly understand about the underpinnings of reality. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) The complementarity between humility and self-respect is, I believe, the central message of our fundamentals. It recurs as a theme in many variations. The vastness of space dwarfs us, but we contain multitudes of neurons, and, of course, vastly more of the atoms that make up neurons. The span of cosmic history far exceeds a human lifetime, but we have time for immense numbers of thoughts. Cosmic energies transcend what a human commands, but we have ample power to sculpt our local environment and to participate actively in life among other humans. The world is complex beyond our ability to grasp, and rich in mysteries, but we know a lot, and are learning more. Humility is in order, but so is self-respect. Also in the preface, Wilczek explains that as he “reflected on the material, two overarching themes occurred.” The first theme was abundance (as in the above passage) and the other was the need for humans to be “born again” in order to properly appreciate the universe (meaning to unlearn the separation between the self and the nonself that we all construct as babies). When I first studied Physics in high school, I could picture and work with the planetary model of the atom because it chimes with what is observable out in the universe; likewise, I could comprehend Newton’s explanation for gravity because of course an object falls down to earth because the planet’s mass is greater than that of an apple and exerts a greater force; these early theories of reality make sense to a brain that was trained to deal with the observable universe as filtered through human senses. But Schrodinger eventually replaced Bohr’s planetary model with one based on quantum mechanics, Einstein upended Newton with General Relativity, and modern physicists want to describe reality with mathematical equations instead of something concrete that the human mind can visualise — and I can only follow the math so far (and not leastwise because I resist the idea that all of life and mind and consciousness is an illusion sprung from an accidental area of density in a quantum field). As for the fundamentals: They include the concepts of abundance (of space and time, matter and energy) and the fact that the universe is made up of very few ingredients, the fact that there are very few fundamental laws that govern them, and that complexity is an emergent quality of the universe’s base reality. So what does this say about humanity’s place in the universe? Early on, Wilczek quotes the ancient Greek philosopher (and first proponent of atomic theory) Democritus as having written in about 400 BC that human sensations are merely conventions, and “in truth there are only atoms and the void.” Turns out, Democritus was only wrong in thinking of atoms as the smallest units of matter. According to our present best understanding, the primary properties of matter, from which all other properties can be derived, are these three: Mass Charge Spin That’s it. From a philosophical perspective, the key takeaways are that there are very few primary properties, and that they are things you can define and measure precisely. And also this: As Democritus anticipated, the connection of the primary properties — the deep structure of reality — to the everyday appearance of things is quite remote. While it seems to me too strong to say that sweet, bitter, hot, cold, and color are “conventions”, it is surely true that it takes quite some doing to trace those things — and the world of everyday experience more generally — to their origins in mass, charge, and spin. All of matter (including us) is made up of these three properties, but “matter” itself is not the permanent state that we might imagine: From forces we are led to fields, and from (quantum) fields, we are led to particles. From particles we are led to (quantum) fields, and from fields, we are led to forces. Thus, we come to understand that substance and force are two aspects of a common underlying reality. And again, what does that mean about us? Many once mysterious aspects of living things, such as how they derive their energy (metabolism), how they reproduce (heredity), and how they sense their environment (perception), (can now be understood) from the bottom up. For now we understand in considerable detail, how molecules — and ultimately, quarks, gluons, electrons, and photons — manage to accomplish those feats. They are complicated things that matter can do, by following the laws of physics. No more, and no less. These understandings do not subtract from the glory of life. Rather, they magnify the glory of matter. Ahh, the glory of matter. Matter, deeply understood, has ample room for minds. And so, also, it can be home to the internal worlds that minds house. There is both majestic simplicity and strange beauty in this unified view of the world. Within it, we must consider ourselves not as unique objects (“souls”), outside of the physical world, but rather as coherent, dynamic patterns in matter. It is an unfamiliar perspective. Were it not so strongly supported by the fundamentals of science, it would seem far-fetched. But it has the virtue of truth. And once embraced, it can come to seem liberating. So, is there anything special about humans? A special quality of humans, not shared by evolution or, as yet, by machines, is our ability to recognize gaps in our understanding and to take joy in the process of filling them in. It is a beautiful thing to experience the mysterious, and powerful, too. I guess that’s something. I did like that Wilczek references many literary works alongside the scientific ones he cites (in particular, he seems to have a love for sci-fi: as with Robert Forward’s Dragon’s Egg or Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John), but the following didn’t quite warm my human heart: The misery or evil of immortality is a common theme in myth and literature. The intended lesson: When it comes to longevity, be careful what you wish for. Frankly, I think this is sour grapes. The destruction of memory and learning by death is horrifying and wasteful. Extending the healthful human lifespan should be one of the main goals of science. And I include the following just because it piqued my interest: There is a quantity, usually written as t, which appears in our fundamental description of how change takes place in the physical world. It is also what people are talking about when they ask, “What time is it?” That is what time is. Time is what clocks measure, and everything that changes is a clock. Again, I believe that Wilczek achieved what he set out to with Fundamentals, but having not been “born again”, I couldn’t quite get my mind wrapped around everything he laid out here; I seem stubbornly attached to reality as my senses interpret it (I can't help but prefer concepts that are analogous to those things I can see and touch), and more than that, I am stubbornly attached to the idea that there is something special about human consciousness. I do, however, wholeheartedly recommend this book — the ideas are complex but worth trying to understand; this is actually our reality after all.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    In keeping with the trend of having seven this or ten that (Carlo Rovelli has a lot to answer for), physicist Frank Wilzek sets out to give us 'ten keys to reality'. As Wilczek explains in his introduction, the aim is to explore two themes: abundance and seeing things differently, with a childlike curiosity and lack of preconceptions. The author also points out that he aims to offer an alternative to religious fundamentalism. As he notes, many of his scientific heroes were devout Christians, and In keeping with the trend of having seven this or ten that (Carlo Rovelli has a lot to answer for), physicist Frank Wilzek sets out to give us 'ten keys to reality'. As Wilczek explains in his introduction, the aim is to explore two themes: abundance and seeing things differently, with a childlike curiosity and lack of preconceptions. The author also points out that he aims to offer an alternative to religious fundamentalism. As he notes, many of his scientific heroes were devout Christians, and he 'aims to transcend specific dogmas, whether religious or anti-religious'. In essence there are two things going on in this book. On the one hand, each of the ten main sections covers a fairly straightforward aspect of physics and cosmology, though not from the viewpoint of a physical theory so much as context such as space, time, natural laws and so on - in this, it will be familiar ground to anyone who has read a popular science physics primer. But the aspect that lifts Wilczek's book is that in covering the basics he both gives us a more grounded sense of place and adds in details that you rarely see elsewhere. So, for example, we're used to Brian Cox-style popular science that echoes the classic Douglas Adams parody of saying that space is big - really big - so big you are an insignificant little dot. While Wilczek emphasises the scale of the universe compared to a human being, he also points out that, for example, we have more atoms in our bodies than there are estimated to be stars in the visible universe. And as such each of us is also impressively large - the scale works in both directions. Another example of strikingly original way of looking at things is that in talking about physical laws, Wilczek imagines being a conscious being in the world of a computer game character such as Super Mario, in a world where the rules are unpredictable, and takes us through the implications of being in such a different universe. This is brilliant. Some of the ten sections are rather thinner than others. I was a bit disappointed by a section on complexity and emergence - so important in reality (as opposed the often very constrained world of physical models), which only runs to eight pages. Nonetheless, each section is readable and enjoyable. There were one or two slightly odd aspects. He tells us that the visible universe is 13.8 billion years old so the 'limiting distance is... 13.8 billion light years' - which is misleading as it ignores the expansion of the universe that means that the equivalent distance is closer to 50 billion light years. He also can over simply - for example by referring to 'u' and 'd' quarks, missing out or where those letters come from and the interesting story behind quark naming, or speaking about quantum spin as if it involves spinning around like a macro object. Inevitably an overview like this will have masses of simplification and in the end it's a matter of taste what goes and what stays. While I wouldn't agree with all the selections, I found Wilczek's approach genuinely refreshing and this book has so much more going for it that many of these overview titles. It's interesting to compare it with Jim Al-Khalili's World According to Physics. In many ways they're complementary (complementarity is another section in this book, funnily). Al-Khalili gives a far more insightful picture of the physics itself. Wilczek gives us a much more impressive philosophical context for that view of the universe. I think I would recommend reading both - perhaps Wilzeck first to get the context, then Al-Khalili to get the specifics. Together, they provide an ideal physics primer for the curious mind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    The author talks about his new book and his life in physics: https://www.quantamagazine.org/frank-... Nice interview, nice photos, interesting life and work. I enjoy his regular science columns at the WSJ, and I'm planning to read his little book when our library gets a copy. The author talks about his new book and his life in physics: https://www.quantamagazine.org/frank-... Nice interview, nice photos, interesting life and work. I enjoy his regular science columns at the WSJ, and I'm planning to read his little book when our library gets a copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    Masterpiece A difficult, and beautiful book with a huge scope. Wilczek is brilliant and it takes work to keep up. However, the payoff is worth it. I will be thinking about this text for many years to come.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey H.

    More elementary than expected This is a beautifully written book, though more elementary than I expected. No math! No math at all! The author does a good job of presenting the standard model and the Big Bang model as simply as can be done, and highlights how elegantly they, together, explain much of what we know about the universe. If you've never read anything at all about quantum mechanics or the origin of the universe, this would be a good place to get the big picture. But the book was flawed, More elementary than expected This is a beautifully written book, though more elementary than I expected. No math! No math at all! The author does a good job of presenting the standard model and the Big Bang model as simply as can be done, and highlights how elegantly they, together, explain much of what we know about the universe. If you've never read anything at all about quantum mechanics or the origin of the universe, this would be a good place to get the big picture. But the book was flawed, for me, by occasional forays into philosophy. Wilczek is a proponent of strict materialism. This means that for him, physics explains not just the physical world, but all that exists. So, humans are nothing more than random collections of elementary particles obeying the laws of quantum mechanics. When you think, "I'm going to move my hand," the "I" is just an illusion. There is no "you," there are just atoms, energy, and time. The writings of Shakespeare? Just the accidental output of random clicks on a keyboard, if you keep pecking at the keyboard long enough. There are enormous philosophical and mathematical problems to this viewpoint, but they are simply ignored, and the author's strict materialism presented as the mature, adult viewpoint. It is a little condescending. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the read, especially the view of the atom that replaces protons and neutrons with quarks and gluons. Science has come a long way from my high school and college days! It's fun to look back at the journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Asani

    Frank Wilzcek, who won the Nobel in physics in 2004, expounds on 10 concepts in this book, such as time, space and matter. The book is best appreciated by readers with some science literacy, but it can also be enjoyed by those with little knowledge, as it is written in a clear and simple way, and it does not try to teach everything, but only the core concepts. This core knowledge comes from the Standard Model which describes with great accuracy how the everyday world is constructed, starting fro Frank Wilzcek, who won the Nobel in physics in 2004, expounds on 10 concepts in this book, such as time, space and matter. The book is best appreciated by readers with some science literacy, but it can also be enjoyed by those with little knowledge, as it is written in a clear and simple way, and it does not try to teach everything, but only the core concepts. This core knowledge comes from the Standard Model which describes with great accuracy how the everyday world is constructed, starting from the smallest building blocks such as quarks and how they interact via forces such as electromagnetism and gravity. The Standard Model is one of the great human achievements of the past century, yet it is rarely acknowledged as so outside science. Beyond simply teaching the concepts, Wilzcek also provides a philosophy that many will find attractive. For example, he talks about complementarity, the idea that the same thing can often be viewed in very different ways under the same physical law. An electron can be simultaneously a particle and a wave. Humans are puny relative to the cosmos but large compared to the universe inside us. He calculates that there are roughly 10 octillion atoms that make up the human body, about 1 million times the number of stars in the visible universe. Parallel to these physical views, there exist different descriptions of nature. In one description, the laws of physics are deterministic. In another description, we have free will. We often get caught up in debating these apparent contradictions, but Wilzcek says that they arise from the way we use language.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kobe Bryant

    tries too hard to be accessible

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Titus

    I read this book based upon a good review in the Wall Street Journal. I consider my knowledge of science to be above average. However, I found this book to be chaotic and frustrating. It almost seemed like trying to follow the author's stream of consciousness. He brought up all kinds of things that are related, but didn't make connections among them. I also felt like there were times that I knew he was using English, but nothing he said made any sense. Maybe I'm just a dolt, but I wouldn't recom I read this book based upon a good review in the Wall Street Journal. I consider my knowledge of science to be above average. However, I found this book to be chaotic and frustrating. It almost seemed like trying to follow the author's stream of consciousness. He brought up all kinds of things that are related, but didn't make connections among them. I also felt like there were times that I knew he was using English, but nothing he said made any sense. Maybe I'm just a dolt, but I wouldn't recommend the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    SJ Loria

    You = the observer and the observed Some books you love almost every page, other ones you slug through but are glad you did. This book is the ladder, whereas A Beautiful Question (another book by him that I loved) was the former. Fundamentals lays out 10 main principles that the universe follows. The first part of the book laid the groundwork for the last 2 chapters, which featured more of the mind-blowing aspects of physics that I find most fascinating. For example, chapters 1-3 talk about mat You = the observer and the observed Some books you love almost every page, other ones you slug through but are glad you did. This book is the ladder, whereas A Beautiful Question (another book by him that I loved) was the former. Fundamentals lays out 10 main principles that the universe follows. The first part of the book laid the groundwork for the last 2 chapters, which featured more of the mind-blowing aspects of physics that I find most fascinating. For example, chapters 1-3 talk about matter, laws, and space. While important and necessary, none of the revelations are in particular “wowifying.” It’s when you get to the later stuff that things really start to become interesting. Perhaps that’s by design or necessity. There are the fundamental part of a theory, then the more mysterious. The final chapter on Complementarity is brilliant. Complementarity is the idea that you can hold two truths at once. Particles have speed and position, even though you can only measure one. Light is a particle and a wave. Apply this idea to knowledge and the view of the world. Humans are awesome and horribly violent. Science is incredible and religions are insightful. Such choices are sometimes presented as an either/or, yet “and” is a way to look at the world. To me, that was the most interesting and intellectually satisfying chapter. It’s funny that as you get into the quest of knowledge, as you continue to open the doors of perception through science and art, the less certain and hard-headed you become. This is one of those books that reminds you the universe is infinitely beautiful and beautifully organized under a small list of fundamental truths. Plenty of familiar quotes ideas simmer below the surface (the doors of perception, the cave, Augustine on time, thou art that). The more you know, the less cemented to your own view you become. Cheers, to the quest. Quotes In studying how the world works, we are studying how God works, and thereby learning what God is. In that spirit, we can interpret the search for knowledge as a form of worship, and our discoveries as revelations. xiii It is a great, continuing adventure to widen the doors of perception. xv The number of stars visible to unaided human vision, in clear air on a moonless night, is at best a few thousand. Ten octillion, on the other hand, the number of atoms within us, is about a million times the number of stars in the entire visible universe. In that very concrete sense, a universe dwells within us. 15 We can recognize both that there’s plenty of “out there” and that there’s plenty “in here.” Neither fact contradicts the others, and we do not have to choose between them. Form different perspectives, we are both small and large. Both perspectives capture important truths about our place in the scheme of things. To get a full and realistic understanding of reality, we must embrace them both. 43 Substance and force are two aspects of a common underlying reality. 102 William Blake’s poetic description of an “infinity in the palm of your hand” has a sound scientific basis. 132 The world is simple and complex, logical and weird, lawful and chaotic. Fundamental understanding does not resolve those dualities. Indeed, as we have seen, it highlights and deepens them…Humans, too, are wrapped in dualities. We are tiny and enormous, ephemeral and long-lasting, knowledgeable and ignorant. You can’t do justice to the human condition without taking complementarity to heart. 207 The two principles we mentioned above – that observation is an active process and that observation is invasive – were bedrock foundations of Heisenberg’s analysis. Without them, we cannot use the mathematics of quantum theory to describe physical reality. They undermine, however, the world-model we build up as children, according to which there’s a strict separation between an external world, which is “out there” and has properties that our observations reveal, and ourselves. Accepting the lessons of Heisenberg and Bohr, we come to realize that there is no such strict separation. By observing the world, we participate in making it. 211 Facts can’t falsify other facts. Rather, they reflect different ways of processing reality. 218 “A human being is part of a whole, called the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” -Albert Einstein [note the “kind of prison” Plato allusion, fuck yeah man] 227

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Berens

    Just the facts, ma'am. This is a 30,000 foot journey through the essentials of modern physics: space-time, the nature of matter, gravity, quantum mechanics, complementarity, etc. The author doesn't delve into any one topic too deeply, but chooses instead to dole out basic concepts in bit-sized chunks that make up each of the chapters. There is an extensive appendix that goes into some of the concepts more fully for the lay reader. Clearly written, thoughtful and humane, it serves as a good intro Just the facts, ma'am. This is a 30,000 foot journey through the essentials of modern physics: space-time, the nature of matter, gravity, quantum mechanics, complementarity, etc. The author doesn't delve into any one topic too deeply, but chooses instead to dole out basic concepts in bit-sized chunks that make up each of the chapters. There is an extensive appendix that goes into some of the concepts more fully for the lay reader. Clearly written, thoughtful and humane, it serves as a good introduction for someone not familiar with these fundamentals. And there are plenty of other books out there that examine these in greater depth for those who want to learn more. What I liked most about the book is that author is still amazed and fascinated by the mystery that is the universe, even after spending a lifetime in the weeds of particle physics. It boggles my mind to think of what he has the capacity to understand that is not articulated in this book because it would be way over the heads of most of us to comprehend, and yet he has retained his initial enthusiasm and awe for his subject.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    I love to read books like this: very smart scientist author explains the science in a way that I can nearly understand it. I will read another and I will understand it a little better. What stands out about "Fundamentals" is that Wilczek describes a spiritual experience of "being born" again that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with being open to the mysteries of the Universe, the mysteries of God. He is a very good writer, a Nobel prize winner who grew up Catholic and can s I love to read books like this: very smart scientist author explains the science in a way that I can nearly understand it. I will read another and I will understand it a little better. What stands out about "Fundamentals" is that Wilczek describes a spiritual experience of "being born" again that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with being open to the mysteries of the Universe, the mysteries of God. He is a very good writer, a Nobel prize winner who grew up Catholic and can still quote Augustine and the bible. But his world has expanded the way the world of the mystics expands when they have their experience of God. Don't get me wrong, Wilczek is all about the science. He is not equating his work as a physicist with the work of the mystic. And yet, as I read Fundamentals, I recognize the same movement of Spirit within the author. As a bonus I begin to understand the physics that underlies the dynamics of the Universe. I recommend it - even if the science just make you scratch your head. Wilczek does a good job of making it nearly intelligible even to people like me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Book excerpt: Plenty Outside And Plenty Within When we say that the something is big—be it the visible universe or a human brain—we have to ask: Compared with what? The natural point of reference is the scope of everyday human life. This is the context of our first world-models, which we construct as children. The scope of the physical world, as revealed by science, is something we discover when we allow ourselves to be born again. By the standards of everyday life, the world “out there” is truly Book excerpt: Plenty Outside And Plenty Within When we say that the something is big—be it the visible universe or a human brain—we have to ask: Compared with what? The natural point of reference is the scope of everyday human life. This is the context of our first world-models, which we construct as children. The scope of the physical world, as revealed by science, is something we discover when we allow ourselves to be born again. By the standards of everyday life, the world “out there” is truly gigantic. That outer plenty is what we sense intuitively when, on a clear night, we look up at a starry sky. We feel, with no need for careful analysis, that the universe has distances vastly larger than our human bodies, and larger than any distance we are ever likely to travel. Scientific understanding not only supports but greatly expands that sense of vastness. https://www.sciencefriday.com/article...

  14. 4 out of 5

    David C Ward

    I try to read at least some literature on physics but admit, as an empiricist and scientific nit wit, to have trouble in envisaging the atomic let alone the subatomic world. What I’m struck by is the sense of complexity that things (eg light) can be two things at once: Newtonian physics exists alongside quantum physics. In his argument Wikczek uses this paradox as a basis not just for the complexity (and harmony) of the universe but as a secular, almost Deistic, argument for the purpose of human I try to read at least some literature on physics but admit, as an empiricist and scientific nit wit, to have trouble in envisaging the atomic let alone the subatomic world. What I’m struck by is the sense of complexity that things (eg light) can be two things at once: Newtonian physics exists alongside quantum physics. In his argument Wikczek uses this paradox as a basis not just for the complexity (and harmony) of the universe but as a secular, almost Deistic, argument for the purpose of human life. Also: there’s a good joke using “galvanized” in the discussion of Faraday’s work on fields.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allisonperkel

    A wonderful overview of the modern world as seen through the lens of physics. It's clear Dr Wilczek love of physics and his ability to view complementarity (as defined in the last chapter) enabled him to share this passion with everyone. The book's steel thread is present, how we understand the world and how that view's shifted over time, and expanded upon in every chapter. The afterword does feel tacked on and chapter 10 truly should be the end of the book. That's a small quibble for such a won A wonderful overview of the modern world as seen through the lens of physics. It's clear Dr Wilczek love of physics and his ability to view complementarity (as defined in the last chapter) enabled him to share this passion with everyone. The book's steel thread is present, how we understand the world and how that view's shifted over time, and expanded upon in every chapter. The afterword does feel tacked on and chapter 10 truly should be the end of the book. That's a small quibble for such a wonderful read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Frank Wilczek, this time, writes generally about science but also talks about religion, history, the future. He is urbane and modern in is writing. Compared to most science writers, he seems modern and up to date. He is also very knowledgeable across vast areas, with an obviously strong base in the sciences, but also open-minded and aware of being in the thick of things.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The "Goodreads" blurb tells you most of what you may need to know on what the books is about. If you are science-minded but have not given up your wonder at the amazing things about God's creation you will likely enjoy several of Wilczek's essays. The "Goodreads" blurb tells you most of what you may need to know on what the books is about. If you are science-minded but have not given up your wonder at the amazing things about God's creation you will likely enjoy several of Wilczek's essays.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill Berg

    https://beingbeliefbehavior.blogspot.... A physicist assuming a Nobel in physics qualifies him as a philosopher and a theologian. The physics looks fine to a guy that is definitely NOT qualified to evaluate it! https://beingbeliefbehavior.blogspot.... A physicist assuming a Nobel in physics qualifies him as a philosopher and a theologian. The physics looks fine to a guy that is definitely NOT qualified to evaluate it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joni

    Mediocre. Although the author's column in the WSJ is very good, this book did not have a well-defined audience. I would NOT recommend this book to anyone Mediocre. Although the author's column in the WSJ is very good, this book did not have a well-defined audience. I would NOT recommend this book to anyone

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is one of those books that will require rereading overtime to fully come to grips with what he puts forth and discusses.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Roy Kenagy

    DMPL FRANKLIN 530 AUDIBLE?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Lilburn

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ray Damian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Carvalho

  26. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey M.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert R. Annand

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellis Knight

  29. 4 out of 5

    Franz Christian Irorita

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fred Schultz

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