Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth

Jim Baggott, Author
Jim Baggott. Pegasus, $26.95 (332p) ISBN 978-1-60598-472-8
Reviewed on: 04/15/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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From superstrings and black holes to dark matter and multiverses, modern theoretical physics revels in the bizarre. Now it’s wandered into the realm of “fairy-tale,” says science writer and former “practicing” physicist Baggott (A Beginners Guide to Reality). Quantum theory led scientists to create a Standard Model of physics in the mid-20th century, but that model is really an amalgam of distinct individual quantum theories necessary to describe a diverse array of forces and particles. Meanwhile, astronomical observations have revealed that 90% of our universe is made of something we can’t see (dark matter); some mysterious “dark energy” is pushing all of it apart at an accelerating rate, and physicists are gambling on a “supersymmetry” theory in hopes that it could be the holy grail, a Grand Unified Field Theory that might lend coherence to the Standard Model while explaining some of the phenomena the latter fails to account for—despite the fact, Baggott says, that for “every standard model problem it resolves, another problem arises that needs a fix.” In consistently accessible and intelligent prose, Baggott sympathetically captures the frustrations of physicists while laying out a provocative—and very convincing—plea for a reality check in a field that he feels is now too “meta” for its own good. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory (U.K.). (Aug. 15)
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