Book picks similar to
The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995 by Martin Gardner
Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World
Amir Alexander - 2014
With the stroke of a pen the Jesuit fathers banned the doctrine of infinitesimals, announcing that it could never be taught or even mentioned. The concept was deemed dangerous and subversive, a threat to the belief that the world was an orderly place, governed by a strict and unchanging set of rules. If infinitesimals were ever accepted, the Jesuits feared, the entire world would be plunged into chaos.In Infinitesimal, the award-winning historian Amir Alexander exposes the deep-seated reasons behind the rulings of the Jesuits and shows how the doctrine persisted, becoming the foundation of calculus and much of modern mathematics and technology. Indeed, not everyone agreed with the Jesuits. Philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians across Europe embraced infinitesimals as the key to scientific progress, freedom of thought, and a more tolerant society. As Alexander reveals, it wasn't long before the two camps set off on a war that pitted Europe's forces of hierarchy and order against those of pluralism and change.The story takes us from the bloody battlefields of Europe's religious wars and the English Civil War and into the lives of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers of the day, including Galileo and Isaac Newton, Cardinal Bellarmine and Thomas Hobbes, and Christopher Clavius and John Wallis. In Italy, the defeat of the infinitely small signaled an end to that land's reign as the cultural heart of Europe, and in England, the triumph of infinitesimals helped launch the island nation on a course that would make it the world's first modern state.From the imperial cities of Germany to the green hills of Surrey, from the papal palace in Rome to the halls of the Royal Society of London, Alexander demonstrates how a disagreement over a mathematical concept became a contest over the heavens and the earth. The legitimacy of popes and kings, as well as our beliefs in human liberty and progressive science, were at stake-the soul of the modern world hinged on the infinitesimal.
The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes--and Its Implications
David Deutsch - 1996
Taken literally, it implies that there are many universes “parallel” to the one we see around us. This multiplicity of universes, according to Deutsch, turns out to be the key to achieving a new worldview, one which synthesizes the theories of evolution, computation, and knowledge with quantum physics. Considered jointly, these four strands of explanation reveal a unified fabric of reality that is both objective and comprehensible, the subject of this daring, challenging book. The Fabric of Reality explains and connects many topics at the leading edge of current research and thinking, such as quantum computers (which work by effectively collaborating with their counterparts in other universes), the physics of time travel, the comprehensibility of nature and the physical limits of virtual reality, the significance of human life, and the ultimate fate of the universe. Here, for scientist and layperson alike, for philosopher, science-fiction reader, biologist, and computer expert, is a startlingly complete and rational synthesis of disciplines, and a new, optimistic message about existence.
Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science
Werner Heisenberg - 1958
The theme of Heisenberg's exposition is that words and concepts familiar in daily life can lose their meaning in the world of relativity and quantum physics. This in turn has profound philosophical implications for the nature of reality and for our total world view.
The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century
David Salsburg - 2001
At a summer tea party in Cambridge, England, a guest states that tea poured into milk tastes different from milk poured into tea. Her notion is shouted down by the scientific minds of the group. But one man, Ronald Fisher, proposes to scientifically test the hypothesis. There is no better person to conduct such an experiment, for Fisher is a pioneer in the field of statistics.The Lady Tasting Tea spotlights not only Fisher's theories but also the revolutionary ideas of dozens of men and women which affect our modern everyday lives. Writing with verve and wit, David Salsburg traces breakthroughs ranging from the rise and fall of Karl Pearson's theories to the methods of quality control that rebuilt postwar Japan's economy, including a pivotal early study on the capacity of a small beer cask at the Guinness brewing factory. Brimming with intriguing tidbits and colorful characters, The Lady Tasting Tea salutes the spirit of those who dared to look at the world in a new way.
The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics and Physics
Steven E. Landsburg - 2009
Stimulating, illuminating, and always surprising, The Big Questions challenges readers to re-evaluate their most fundamental beliefs and reveals the relationship between the loftiest philosophical quests and our everyday lives.
Chaos: Making a New Science
James Gleick - 1987
From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.
Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality
Max Tegmark - 2012
Our Big Bang, our distant future, parallel worlds, the sub-atomic and intergalactic - none of them are what they seem. But there is a way to understand this immense strangeness - mathematics. Seeking an answer to the fundamental puzzle of why our universe seems so mathematical, Tegmark proposes a radical idea: that our physical world not only is described by mathematics, but that it is mathematics. This may offer answers to our deepest questions: How large is reality? What is everything made of? Why is our universe the way it is?Table of ContentsPreface 1 What Is Reality? Not What It Seems • What’s the Ultimate Question? • The Journey Begins Part One: Zooming Out 2 Our Place in Space Cosmic Questions • How Big Is Space? • The Size of Earth • Distance to the Moon • Distance to the Sun and the Planets • Distance to the Stars • Distance to the Galaxies • What Is Space? 3 Our Place in TimeWhere Did Our Solar System Come From? • Where Did theGalaxies Come From? • Where Did the Mysterious MicrowavesCome From? • Where Did the Atoms Come From? 4 Our Universe by NumbersWanted: Precision Cosmology • Precision Microwave-Background Fluctuations • Precision Galaxy Clustering • The Ultimate Map of Our Universe • Where Did Our Big Bang Come From? 5 Our Cosmic Origins What’s Wrong with Our Big Bang? • How Inflation Works • The Gift That Keeps on Giving • Eternal Inflation 6 Welcome to the Multiverse The Level I Multiverse • The Level II Multiverse • Multiverse Halftime Roundup Part Two: Zooming In 7 Cosmic Legos Atomic Legos • Nuclear Legos • Particle-Physics Legos • Mathematical Legos • Photon Legos • Above the Law? • Quanta and Rainbows • Making Waves • Quantum Weirdness • The Collapse of Consensus • The Weirdness Can’t Be Confined • Quantum Confusion 8 The Level III Multiverse The Level III Multiverse • The Illusion of Randomness • Quantum Censorship • The Joys of Getting Scooped • Why Your Brain Isn’t a Quantum Computer • Subject, Object and Environment • Quantum Suicide • Quantum Immortality? • Multiverses Unified • Shifting Views: Many Worlds or Many Words? Part Three: Stepping Back 9 Internal Reality, External Reality and Consensus Reality External Reality and Internal Reality • The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth • Consensus Reality • Physics: Linking External to Consensus Reality 10 Physical Reality and Mathematical Reality Math, Math Everywhere! • The Mathematical Universe Hypothesis • What Is a Mathematical Structure? 11 Is Time an Illusion? How Can Physical Reality Be Mathematical? • What Are You? • Where Are You? (And What Do You Perceive?) • When Are You? 12 The Level IV Multiverse Why I Believe in the Level IV Multiverse • Exploring the Level IV Multiverse: What’s Out There? • Implications of the Level IV Multiverse • Are We Living in a Simulation? • Relation Between the MUH, the Level IV Multiverse and Other Hypotheses •Testing the Level IV Multiverse 13 Life, Our Universe and Everything How Big Is Our Physical Reality? • The Future of Physics • The Future of Our Universe—How Will It End? • The Future of Life •The Future of You—Are You Insignificant? Acknowledgments Suggestions for Further Reading Index
Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?)
Brian Cox - 2009
Breaking down the symbols themselves, they pose a series of questions: What is energy? What is mass? What has the speed of light got to do with energy and mass? In answering these questions, they take us to the site of one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted. Lying beneath the city of Geneva, straddling the Franco-Swiss boarder, is a 27 km particle accelerator, known as the Large Hadron Collider. Using this gigantic machine—which can recreate conditions in the early Universe fractions of a second after the Big Bang—Cox and Forshaw will describe the current theory behind the origin of mass.Alongside questions of energy and mass, they will consider the third, and perhaps, most intriguing element of the equation: 'c' - or the speed of light. Why is it that the speed of light is the exchange rate? Answering this question is at the heart of the investigation as the authors demonstrate how, in order to truly understand why E=mc2, we first must understand why we must move forward in time and not backwards and how objects in our 3-dimensional world actually move in 4-dimensional space-time. In other words, how the very fabric of our world is constructed. A collaboration between two of the youngest professors in the UK, Why Does E=mc2? promises to be one of the most exciting and accessible explanations of the theory of relativity in recent years.
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Simon Singh - 1999
From Mary, Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code, to the Navajo Code Talkers who helped the Allies win World War II, to the incredible (and incredibly simple) logisitical breakthrough that made Internet commerce secure, The Code Book tells the story of the most powerful intellectual weapon ever known: secrecy.Throughout the text are clear technical and mathematical explanations, and portraits of the remarkable personalities who wrote and broke the world’s most difficult codes. Accessible, compelling, and remarkably far-reaching, this book will forever alter your view of history and what drives it. It will also make you wonder how private that e-mail you just sent really is.
God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs That Changed History
Stephen Hawking - 2005
In this collection of landmark mathematical works, editor Stephen Hawking has assembled the greatest feats humans have ever accomplished using just numbers and their brains.
A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature
Tom Siegfried - 2006
Today Nash's beautiful math has become a universal language for research in the social sciences and has infiltrated the realms of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and even quantum physics. John Nash won the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics for pioneering research published in the 1950s on a new branch of mathematics known as game theory. At the time of Nash's early work, game theory was briefly popular among some mathematicians and Cold War analysts. But it remained obscure until the 1970s when evolutionary biologists began applying it to their work. In the 1980s economists began to embrace game theory. Since then it has found an ever expanding repertoire of applications among a wide range of scientific disciplines. Today neuroscientists peer into game players' brains, anthropologists play games with people from primitive cultures, biologists use games to explain the evolution of human language, and mathematicians exploit games to better understand social networks. A common thread connecting much of this research is its relevance to the ancient quest for a science of human social behavior, or a Code of Nature, in the spirit of the fictional science of psychohistory described in the famous Foundation novels by the late Isaac Asimov. In A Beautiful Math, acclaimed science writer Tom Siegfried describes how game theory links the life sciences, social sciences, and physical sciences in a way that may bring Asimov's dream closer to reality.
Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe
Martin J. Rees - 1999
There are deep connections between stars and atoms, between the cosmos and the microworld. Just six numbers, imprinted in the "big bang," determine the essential features of our entire physical world. Moreover, cosmic evolution is astonishingly sensitive to the values of these numbers. If any one of them were "untuned," there could be no stars and no life. This realization offers a radically new perspective on our universe, our place in it, and the nature of physical laws.
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
John Allen Paulos - 1988
Dozens of examples in innumeracy show us how it affects not only personal economics and travel plans, but explains mis-chosen mates, inappropriate drug-testing, and the allure of pseudo-science.