The End of Certainty Hardcover – Aug 17 1997
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In this intellectually challenging book, Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine tackles some of the difficult questions that bedevil physicists trying to provide an explanation for the world we observe. How is it, for instance, that basic principles of quantum mechanics--which lack any differentiation between forward and backward directions in time--can explain a world with an "arrow of time" headed unambiguously forward? And how do we escape classical physics' assertion that the world is deterministic? In a sometimes mathematical and frequently mind-bending book, Prigogine explores deterministic chaos, nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and even cosmology and the origin of the universe in an attempt to reach an explanation that can reconcile physical laws with subjective reality.
Since adolescence, Nobel laureate Prigogine has been haunted by the thorny problem of time, which has so preoccupied him that he scrawled "Time precedes existence" on a scientific memorial in Moscow. One of the founders of chaos theory, Prigogine has for decades propounded a view contrary to the assumption of temporal reversibility that is commonly accepted by theoretical physicists (ordinary folk have always been baffled by the idea that minus-t and plus-t [terms representing, respectively, time going backward and going forward] can somehow ever be the same). Although accepting relativity and the time-space continuum, Prigogine proposes a radical synthesis of Newtonian and quantum physics that is intriguing enough to reward the tough going that the book's intense concentration of formulas (on which Prigogine's arguments center) will be for most general readers. Prigogine claims that it is time's arrow that finally makes clear how probabilities become actualities and how "becoming" becomes "being." A groundbreaking work by a major figure in today's scientific revolution. Patricia MonaghanSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
This book will very likely prove readable by most general readers, like myself, provided the technical parts are carefully skipped, and the central ideas are correctly spotted. It truly presents essential insights to issues like: the emergence of complexity; self-organization; the nature of matter; determinism vs probability; and the validity of time symmetry in both quantum mechanics and classical mechanics equations. As to issues like the actual existance of a flow and arrow (direction) of time (which, by the way, is the very subject of the book) and the existence of free will, the book may be too far from conclusive...
It seemed to me (only top experts could really tell for sure) that Prigogine showed compelling evidence supporting the idea that, contrary to the prevailing notions in the field of physics, there is time asymmetry both in quantum mechanics and in classical mechanics. And also, that reality at both these levels is not deterministic, but truly probabilistic.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
One of the most world-view upsetting works of recent history. Prigogine is a lucid writer on a difficult topic. I recommend his book on chaos theory as well.Published 17 months ago by R. Beckett
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... Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2003 by Juan R. Gonzalez-Alvarez
Much controversy from what i can see from other reviewers...
Nevertheless, whether or not you think an "arrow of time" exists or not, this book at least has the... Read more
Prigogine mixes history, philosophy, classical , quantum and statistical mechanics to review the status of philosophy of science and the lack of methods to handle non integrable... Read morePublished on Dec 26 2000 by Richard Axor
As an earlier reviewer said this book provides a solution to three of the most important problems in science: 1. time's arrow 2. the measurement problem in QM 3. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2000 by Cool R1a
Over the years (and it's been something close to 60 of them) Prigogine has almost single-handedly defined non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2000 by Zentao
The writers do not challenge the validity of quantum mechanics. They point out, that microscopic reversability is compatible with the existence of an arrow of time in the observed... Read morePublished on Dec 10 1999
In a direct extension of his Nobel-prize-winning work on thermodynamics,Prigogine explains that almost all natural systems are non-determinsitic, even if all their components are... Read morePublished on Jan. 1 1999
Oh well, I loved this book and think Prigogine's work is of fundamental importance. The math's not bad if you're from an engineering or science background, otherwise skip the math... Read morePublished on Dec 31 1998 by Gary R. Bradski
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