May 5th, 2004


another book ...

The Edges of ScienceWhat a pain in the ass .. I am discovering that I'm having to scan these covers in at this point, since the books I'm getting to are SO old (in web terms) that neither Amazon nor B&N have the graphics for me to grab! Lazy slob that I am, this is putting a major crimp in my enthusiasm for maintaining the "format" of these little reviews here. I guess on the good side (from your standpoint) is that some of these are going for WAY cheap in the "used" departments ... heck, you can get the current title here for as little as 50¢ though Amazon's used service ... such a deal!

Anyway, in this book Richard Morris takes the reader from the basics of physics and into progressively more speculative areas of cosmology. Again, this came out in 1990, so a lot of what was "new theory" then has been hashed over quite a bit in the intervening years, this seems especially true for stuff like the various "string" theories. I actually had a practical use of the info here, as one of the crossword answers in the American in-flight magazine on the trip out to Boston was "lepton", and I'd read the particle part of this recently enough to be able to come up with that pretty much off the top of my head!

I'd taken this on the road with me largely due to it being the smallest (HxW) of the books I'm currently reading. I was also having a hard time reading this ... while the material was interesting, I found myself falling asleep with much more frequency while reading The Edges of Science: Crossing the Boundary from Physics to Metaphysics than is typically the case. I guess this is a indictment of the writing, although it was not a "chore", I had a hard time keeping awake while working my way through it (for example, I'd taken it along to fill time during Daughter #2's ballet class today and dropped it on the floor three times during her hour class!). Again, if one was not overly familiar with modern physics/cosmology, this book would be a good walk-through of a lot of the major areas, going from the "hard science" bits and out to the "metaphysical" stuff. It has a particularly nice glossary in the back, which gives decent thumbnails definitions of most of the major terms, which is a helpful thing when one starts getting hazy on the difference between Cosmic Strings and Superstring, let alone "Balls of Wall"!

At the end of The Edges of Science it covers the "anthropic priniciple" (and I'm a believer in the "weak anthropic" version ... which says the universe that we see is the way it is because if it wasn't that way, there would be no sentient beings to see it ... with the implication that there are or have been countless other universes with varying properties), this takes center stage in the next book going into my "science" reading slot, Cosmic Coincidences by John Gribbin and Martin Rees. It was a toss-up between that and another book which was taking a philosophical view on the same subjects, and I frankly went with this one because the other had little bitty cramped type, and I didn't feel quite like torturing myself that way at the moment (that's another good deal ... what cost me $20 for the hardcover in 1989 is now available in paperback for under a buck used at Amazon)!

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