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Download The Never-ending Days of Being Dead epub


Download The Never-ending Days of Being Dead epub
ISBN: 0571220568
ISBN13: 978-0571220564
Category: Science
Subcategory: Astronomy & Space Science
Language: English
Publisher: FABER AND FABER; 1st edition (2007)
Pages: 336 pages
ePUB size: 1644 kb
FB2 size: 1408 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 853
Other Formats: doc mbr mobi txt

Excellent. One of the best books in Physics and Cosmology I ever read. Especially interesting was chapter 7.
Golden freddi
This book completely blew my mind. It is awsome.
fascinating reading!
This is a topic that some might consider a bit dry but this book has presented everything in an entertaining, thought-provoking and eminently readable form. Well done.
This book came to me by an unusual route - a friend from up north sent it to us thinking it was ours (the bookmark in it was a plane ticket with my wife's name on it) we had never heard of it.

Nonetheless I gave the book a read, the premise seemed great and one of my goals is to read non-fiction outside of my usual (special) interests.

Overall the book was lackluster. I found myself struggling a little with the physics, although at the same time I suspect someone well qualified in the area would probably have a better understanding that what was presented here. Thusly one questions who this book is for?

The 2nd and 3rd sections were the strongest, the 1st felt like an endless repetition of the question: If there was a big bang why is the universe so consistent?
Once in a while comes along a book with breathtaking speculation. Marcus Chowns latest "Dispatches from the frontline of science" certainly fits the description of being "breathtaking". In the words of Brian May (Queen guitarist): "Marcus Chown rocks".

We sometimes forget how big and how weird the universe really is. And then it is nice that we have Marcus Chown around to remind us.

There is only a finite number of ways of arranging protons in a given volumen of space. Just as it is possible to estimate how many oranges that can be stacked together in a box, it it possible to estimate how many protons you can have in a given volume of space. Because of its quantum graininess, the obervable universe has "only" 10^118 locations where a proton can be. When we further assume that the distribution of galaxies in the observable universe and beyond is the result of random processes that went on the first split seconds of the Universe existence.

It follows: Try out enough places in the universe and eventually you come to a part that looks exactly like our observable universe, but is somewhere else. Somewhere out there a copy of you is walking around reading a book that also looks like your book.

- Infinite turns out to be a pretty weird thing.

It gets worse - or better - with Nick Bostroms simulation argument, which suggest that our universe is really some experiment set up by some super advanced civisisation. And with Frank Tiplers resurrection of all humans in the big crunch at the of time (in the universe) - things gets really weird.

Surely, you don't wanna miss the ride. Pick up the book asap.

I purchased this book some time ago, based on the other revs (both here and in Amazon UK) hoping it was another Penrose-type wonder, but didn't read it until yesterday.

1) IMHO, the book is an overwarmed collection of essays written at different times, roughly stitched together and rushed to printing and publishing. The seams show.

2) Now, Chown should know what he's writing about. If he really is a former astronomer (but of what kind?), and the New Scientist's "cosmological consultant", he must -or should I say 'should'?- be competent. He cites a couple of papers that, if he was able to read and understand, as I think he did, put him in the class of lesser scientists, or at the very least, serious amateurs.

3) This said, the book doesn't show it. I repeat a question I sometimes ask myself: for whom is the book written? For the layman genuinely interested in science? Or for people interested in showing off with friends (but who, outside a very restricted community, talks seriously about these matters?) their 'knowledge' about some 'sexy' topics?
To the former, avoid like the plague (strange how customs change: were I to have written "HIV" instead of "plague" I'm sure I'd have been labeled an insensitive Neanderthal). To the latter: pick up the concepts you're interested in from better books, of which, with the cut and paste (rendered now so ridiculously easy by the current state of IT) epidemic raging in our midst, there must be hundreds. Any 'popular' book by Thorne, Penrose, Whittaker, Ghirardi, Chaitin, Feynmann, Gell-Mann, Davies (except the last, "Goldilocks"), Rucker (only his very good book about infinity), Gribbin, Rees, Kauffmann, Pagels, Rees, Tipler, Lindley, Greene, Kaku, Deutsch, Smolin, Prigogine, Guth, Linde, Gross, even Susskind, etc. etc. etc.) will give you a better, sounder idea of the topics this one rushes through so breezily and incorrectly (not by ignorance but by distorted and contradictory dumbing down to a level where brane attraction through the fifth dimension -of a Calaby-Yau manifold, presumably?- is as easy and familiar as fish 'n chips). Of course, every book treats some themes in preference to others, so youll' nowhere find a balance similar to the one chosen by Chown; to achieve that, you'd have to read five or six of the above-mentioned authors. But you'd have a much sounder knowledge of topics that the book mangles (for example, the explanation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in page 178 of the PB edition: "The HUP actually states that for any microscopic event, there is a minimum value of particular quantity - the duration of the event multiplied by the energy of the event. An oscillation has a characteristic time associated with it -the duration of a single oscillation- so the HUP dictates it must also have a certain minimum energy associated with it" [everything sic, except for the acronims]. If I hadn't known what decoherence is and supposedly manages to accomplish I wouldn't have understood a word of Chown's explanation in his Chapter 4 "Keeping it Real". The strange thing is, Chown in the Glossary at the end of the book (page 273) gives a clearer and far more conventional definition of the HUP. This reinforces my impression that the book is a collective, badly harmonized effort.

4) Closely linked to the preceding point is the question of the book's quality, which I frankly found wanting.
Besides careless writing (or editing; as one of many examples consider a possible message left by the Creator in the CMB, page 210 on the PBE: "This is how up I built the Universe"), Chown apparently can't bring himself to think coherently. For example he repeatedly presents the Big Bang as the moment everything started, and was concentrated in a singularity, once he even cautions us against likening it to an explosion that happened in space and time; at other times he states that it happened all at once in all of (I suppose infinite) space; most of the time he refers to it as caused by inflation's leftover energy that had nowhere to go except to power the creation of mass-energy and so cause the BB. Since for all we wnow almost anything might be true, one couldn't fault him for presenting ONE idea as true, but this is nowhere done: he writes as if he weren't even aware of his inconsistent statements. (Well, perhaps the book WAS after all put together by helpers and he hurriedly stitched the parts together: have you noticed how often he publishes -and presumably it mustn't be his main occupation-? And the huge number of footnotes and sentences of the type "as we already saw in Chapter ... ", or "for a more thorough treatment refert to Chapter ... ")?.
He also jumps from one argument to another without rhyme or reason: rather in the middle of the book, he defines several times for the presumably least-lower-bound-average reader what are frecuency, amplitude, etc. Yet before that, in pages 57 ff., he presents the brane collision scenario, in a chapter where he breezily "discusses" incredibly advanced conceps (without saying that some of them are more akin to hard science fiction than to science), and even employs exponential notation without explaining it!
He also fails even to mention how (or at least that) physicists categorize leptons, gluons, hadrons, bosons, etc., which he bandies about freely but without once explaining how they fit into the general picture, and what the terms mean.

5) The only, for me, good point of the book: his discussion on the origin of mass, in a language more sober and reflective than usual for him, and his thinly veiled but, one feels, rather heartfelt opposition to the Higgs mechanism (let's hope that CERN'S LHC doesn't find the boson too soon!).

So, abstain if you're a complete layman.
In general, avoid unless you're the type that can't resist the chance of finding about a new glamorous field that you hadn't heard about and interests you. In that case, skim through cursorily in one/two days maximum and buy and read toughtfully the bibliography, or surf the articles.
As for me, this is the last (it was the first) book I buy from this author.