The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything: What We Know and How We Know It

Richard Morris, Author Four Walls Eight Windows $14.95 (244p) ISBN 978-1-56858-140-8
Prolific science writer Morris (Achilles in the Quantum Universe) explains current cosmological theories, offers a history of modern physics and summarizes some questions that vex philosophers of science in this accessible, almost garrulous, three-part work. Part one describes ""what we know and how we know it"" about the Big Bang, from the first few seconds of our cosmos to its probable ultimate fate. Part two, the most substantial, zips through 20th-century discoveries about the nature of matter, from Planck and Einstein to quantum chromodynamics and then to GUTs (Grand Unified Theories) and their wacky but promising successors, the superstring theories. Part three backtracks to Einstein and Newton to consider the role of imagination in scientific discovery, describing others' ideas about scientific and artistic creativity. (Are laws of physics created, or discovered? And how do scientists know when their theories are true?) Lay readers are sure to pick up intriguing ideas from all three sections, but the book coheres only tenuously (in that all three parts have to do with what's ""real"" and what we can observe). It is most enjoyable as a set of three essays rather than as a continuous argument. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
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