- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Viking Canada (AHC); 1 edition (Aug. 30 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670043354
- ISBN-13: 978-0670043354
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 386 g
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,032,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Universe on a T-Shirt: The Quest for the Theory of Everything Paperback – Aug 30 2002
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About the Author
Dan Falk is an established, award-winning Toronto-based freelance writer and broadcaster specializing in science stories. He has written for newspapers and magazines in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., among them The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Equinox, The Boston Globe, The Independent, and New Scientist. He has been a frequent contributor to the CBC Radio programs Ideas and Quirks and Quarks . He has won a number of international awards for his radio documentaries, including an American Institute of Physics Science-Writing Award for "From Empedocles to Einstein," and a U.S. National Association of Science Writers Award for "Visions of the Apocalypse."
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Book targets general population, people who read about Cosmos and science in daily newspapers.
Written nice and easy, but advanced reader who studied works of scientists like Brian Greene, Lee Smolin, John Barrow, Martin Rees or Steven Weinberg, should not bother.
For discussion about religion and science (do we have God-designer or not?) it is better to check Victor Stenger's "Has Science Found God".
Also, a good alternative is Timothy Ferris: "Coming of Age in the Milky Way" - same topics.
But I had a good time reading it. It is short and concise. Lots of chapters (I think the longest is about 5 pages or so) which makes this a very easy book to read.
The main problem is that the task of crunching the search for a "theory of everything" through the ages into a book of about 200 pages is impossible. That is probably why this is a book with no mention of anything but "western" theories.
I also found the last chapter on where God is in everything rather confusing. It seems as if the book's editor wanted to cut it but it was left in as some sort of compromise. It provides an afterthought but takes the narrative off track.
Dan Falk has written a good book for lay people who find Stephen Hawking inaccessible and who don't feel at home with more theoretical books. But the entire concept of "putting theories on a t-shirt" which every section ends with, says a lot about this book: simplification is king. And that is why it only gets three stars from me.
If you would like to read a really good book about scientific history, read Mendeleyev's Dream by Paul Strathern. It is everything this book is not.
Right now the two biggest theories in physics are Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which deals with gravity and big things (i.e: galaxies and stars), and the Quantum Theory, which deals with small things (i.e: atoms and quarks). The poblem is that the two of them don't mesh, they don't play well together.
Falk's book is an overview of the history leading to these two discoveries, and the search for a theory that will explain these two theories in one framework.
Very easy read, very informative, highly recommended.
The book sets out to tell the story of the search for a unified theory chronologically. Obviously this has sparked the imaginations of intelligent people down through the ages. Everything we know about the world around us today is based on the cumulative advances of people who were ahead of their time. Even the simplistic theories of the Greeks, wildly inaccurate as they were helped guide future generations of theoreticians in roughly the right direction.
The book is successful because the writer, a trained journalist who specializes in science, uses clear and simple language. Crucially, he never lets the reader feel that they are being talked down to. This is not a dumbed-down account of the search for a unified theory. The appropriate word is "Accessible".
So if you thought that you could never begin to comprehend what Einstein's Theory of Relativity was all about, think again. This book will make it easy to grasp. Or at least the important parts of it. Falk does not get into any maths, just the basics of the theory to get the gist across. It's very satisfying to come away with some basic knowledge of Einstein's work. Even if you don't totally get it, then the last part of the book might make you feel better, as Falk reveals that even many physicists are baffled by the current fields of investigation such as string theory.
The last chapter, which addresses the question of religion, seems a little forced and even out of place. It's as if the writer wasn't entirely sure if he wanted to include it. It's probably too big a topic to handle in one brief chapter, given the breadth of philosophical debates that have gone on done through the centuries on the subject of God, creation and existence. Falk obviously decided the book would be incomplete without at least mentioning it, regardless of how unsatisfactorily it might turn out.
Universe on a T-shirt is a good starting point for this fascinating subject, and if you feel like delving further into it, the bibliography presents plenty of interesting options.
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