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The End of Certainty Hardcover – Aug 17 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Free Press ed edition (Aug. 17 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684837056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684837055
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 14.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #228,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Is the universe ruled by deterministic laws? Read the first page
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Juan R. Gonzalez-Alvarez on Aug. 13 2003
Format: Hardcover
I did buy this book some time ago and then I was fascinated. I studied the basis of his theory, but unfortunately, Prigogine passed away recently, before I can discuss with he some topics in more detail.
The greater part of the book is written in a natural style, but some sections are highly mathematical even for the majority of scientists! This mathematical presentation has a curious explaining. There are several version of Prigogine's theory, but the first versions had been "abandoned", and then Prigogine details the new approach: "Star-unitary theory for LPS outside of Hilbert space".
An earlier reviewer said that the book provides a solution to three of the most important problems in science: (1) Time's arrow. (2) The measurement problem in QM. (3) The existence of freewill. Precisely, I am working in those and other questions, and I do not believe that claim was completely correct (and perhaps Prigogine believed the same, because in his last communication, said me "The questions that you ask are very difficult."). In my opinion, the novel theory is conflictive both in mathematical and physical details, but I consider that, at least, the aim of the School is correct one. Irreversibility and uncertainty are two fundamental features of our universe. I see that orthodox physics (including particle physics and the so-called String-M theory) is incorrect and/or inapplicable. I believe that, whereas other "popular" books (The Quark and The Jaguar, The Elegant Universe, etc.) should be "relics" in 21st century physics, Prigogine's book will be then a basic work.
The contributions of Prigogine's physics to the understanding in other disciplines, as chemistry, are not clear.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Glenn L. E. May on Aug. 24 2007
Format: Hardcover
by the late Nobel Laureate on the controversial issue of time's arrow. It's not clear he succeeded but his passion was never missing. He has consistently held in his books that nature is probabilistic even though his explanation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, that entropy can only hold constant or increase in an isolated system, has evolved. (For instance in acceding to Frank Tipler that gravity breaks invariance.) Much of his motivation seems to have been in sorting out why Boltzman and Gibbs failed to satisfy the science community that their statistical physics explained the 2nd law, due to reversible classical equations and Poincare recurrences. However in order to make his probabilistic argument he may have created a loophole. He points to the Langevin equation as an irreversible equation with noise (friction) and he says Poincare should have connected nonintegrability with irreversibility and most dynamics are nonintegrable. However everyone agrees some (simple) systems are reversible (pendulums etc) so how can all of nature be stochastic? Maybe because the noise terms tend to but never go to zero? However in addressing the arrow of time he suggests gravity which is ignored in thermodynamics as are all interactions; but this explanation is also used by others in deterministic models. So it may never be provable who is right; but if his loophole is real I think there may be a simpler explanation.

Statistical entropy in all of it's variations is an excellent inference tool but it is about an observer's measurements and not underlying properties of the system being measured (frequentist approaches come close but usually have to extrapolate). In this case Poincare recurrence maybe non-physical, a mere statistical fluctuation with no actuality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter V. Giansante on Aug. 31 2001
Format: Hardcover
Many people presume that the integration of various domains of science into a single unified "superscience" will ultimately show that everything reduces to physics. In fact, one earlier reviewer of "The End of Certainty" closed his review saying, "Biology is, in the end, physics."
There is a way in which biology could be "reduced" to physics, but only if we learn to define "physics" very differently than we do today. Prigogine shows why biology CANNOT be reduced to context-independent, deterministic contemporary physics. (Read Robert Rosen's "Essays on Life Itself" for the most profound and fundamental explanation, based on non-integrable, complex, "impredicative loops of efficient causation".)
"The End of Certainty" is an important work because it points toward a revolutionary realignment of fundamental physical principles, theoretical perspectives, and even scientific methodology. In fact, it draws together many of the crucial elements that ultimately will result in the inevitable emergence of a fundamentally transformed model of scientific epistemology. It's an important snapshot of a pivotal stage in the evolution of scientific knowledge.
There has not been a coherent major shift in the foundational paradigms of physical science since the emergence of relativity and quantum physics in the early 20th century. The pioneers of those physical models, if not the models themselves, behaved as feuding brothers from the start. That disputatious relationship is perhaps best typified by Einstein's famous rebuke of the indeterminacy of quantum physics: "God does not play dice with the universe.
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