Bankrupting Physics: How Today’s Top Scientists Are Gambling Away Their Credibility

Alexander Unzicker and Sheilla Jones. Palgrave Macmillan, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-137-27823-4
Behind today’s increasingly far-fetched physics theories, there’s a rising chorus grumbling that the discipline has lost its way. The authors of this witty and earnest “book of doubts” join that choir, explaining how modern physics became “lost at sea” and what it can do to recover. The Standard Model of physics—a roster of particles and forces and their interactions—depends on 17 constants (numbers unexplained by the theory); galaxies spin faster than they should, thanks to “dark matter”—but after chasing it for 80 years, we still don’t know what it is; and some theorists say there is a “dark energy” pushing the universe apart, which is created by a field called the “quintessence,” a concept straight out of speculative medieval science. And then there’s the niggling worry that values like G, the gravitational constant, might not be so constant, or that our perception of time isn’t correct. From “Higgsmania” and string theory to cosmological mysteries, neuroscientist Unzicker and Jones (The Quantum Ten) lobby for math that’s more down-to-earth and a reorientation of attention toward phenomena that can actually be measured. Their assertion that “science means, after all, not being a sucker” is well worth taking to heart. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 07/30/2013
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-137-36542-2
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