Main CategoriesScience and Theoretical PhysicsScience, Physics and the Unified Field Dreams of a Final Theory

Dreams of a Final Theory

Product no.: 0-679-74408-8
A scientist recounts his search for the laws of nature, imagining the shape of a final theory on nature and the effects its discovery will have on the human spirit.

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Publisher's Synopsis
The Nobel Prize-winning physicist and bestselling author of The First Three Minutes describes the grand quest for a unifying theory of nature - one that can explain events as disparate as the cohesion inside the atom and the gravitational tug between the sun and Earth.

"Is there one theory, equation or model that makes sense of why light has a fixed speed and no other; why and how a photon can turn into a speck of something solid; why matter is what it is and not something else; why particles become atoms and atoms become molecules; why a single photon can go through two slits at the same time; and why space yields to matter and makes it go downhill?

Physicists have got a handle on separate mysteries such as special and general relativity, and the electromagnetic and nuclear forces, and have conducted enough experiments in to confirm that – however weird the outcomes – quantum mechanics works. But separately none of these explains why the world is as it is, with space expanding in every direction, and time ticking away remorselessly in one direction, and light cascading across the universe, and solid, palpable galaxies made of atoms held together by invisible, intangible lumps of mass.

What exactly happened at the very beginning of space and time that made it inevitable that this universe turned out the way it did? This is an old question: Weinberg's contemporaries at Cern started talking about Grand Unified Theory in the late seventies and later introduced the term Theory of Everything. Stephen Hawking famously proposed in 1988 that one day physicists would 'know the mind of God'. Leon Lederman wrote a book about the mysterious entity now being pursued at Cern and called it 'the God particle'.

And then, as part of the defensive apparatus for the awesomely ambitious Superconducting Supercollider, then taking slow shape in the chalky bedrock of Texas, Weinberg delivered this book in 1992. It is many things: a reflection on the nature of science; a short history of research into the ultimate nature of matter; a lesson in the exquisite conundrums of mathematical physics; a straightforward but tactful defence of Big Science – big on a billion-dollar scale – and a bit of straight talking on what science is not likely to reveal about the mind of God. There is a very instructive essay on what physicists mean when they equate beauty with truth and an expert but not necessarily fair kicking for the philosophers of science."     ~The Guardian

Author Weinberg, Steven
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 352 pp.
Publisher Vintage Books 1994
Browse these categories as well: Science, Physics and the Unified Field, Quantum Physics and Superstring Theory

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