Fear of Physics. Spherical horse in a vacuum, Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss-Fear of Physics. Spherical horse in a vacuum

Professor Lawrence Krauss has a talent for explaining complex ideas in simple language and communicating his enthusiasm for his subject to the reader. Starting with a funny story in which the horse is reduced to a sphere for simplicity, he quickly turns to talk about quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, explains why dinosaurs had small heads and how to quickly estimate the number of piano tuners in Chicago.

In this book, Krauss puts forward two important theses: “Before you start tackling a problem, you should abstract from irrelevant details”; and “Old ideas not only survive scientific revolutions but also do not lose their fundamental significance.”

Einstein came up with his theory of relativity not because he believed that Newton was wrong, but because he was completely sure that he was right. He did not reject the existing physical laws, time-tested and perfectly solving a wide range of problems. “On the contrary, he demonstrated that these laws contain something new that no one has thought about before,” writes Lawrence.

Despite the fact that the book is popular science, it is not written in very simple language. The author explains in detail all the terms used, but their complex combination can sometimes overwhelm the unprepared reader, especially given Krauss’s love of long sentences. On the other hand, explaining even the very basics of quantum chromodynamics in simple language is far from a trivial task. And there is nothing wrong with the fact that the book sometimes makes you think seriously and reread a paragraph several times.

There is a great analogy, pioneered by Richard Feynman, that compares nature to the giant chess that the gods play. The goal of physics is to learn the rules just by observing. Krauss describes this complex rule-seeking process in his book, describing how scientists explore the complex and often hidden relationships between pre-existing scientific theories in search of new ideas. Equally important, it shows with examples how new theories are tested, explains why we can be confident in the conclusions of scientists, even if they, at times, may seem counterintuitive.

This is a fascinating and, of course, noteworthy book, telling about modern physics and how modern science works, the process of cognition of our Universe is organized. The first edition of the book was published in the United States back in 1994. The translation of the second edition from 2006, published by the publishing house “Peter”, is available in Russian.

Joe Rogan’s Podcast Experience # 938 – Lawrence Krauss

In addition to the book, you can recommend a fresh podcast featuring the author. The conversation touches on a host of interesting topics, from gauge symmetry and dark matter to questions about artificial intelligence and jokes about flat-earthers. Almost two and a half hours of exciting conversation between two smart and talented people. The recording of the podcast took place on March 27, 2017 and is dedicated to the release of the new book by Professor Krauss “The Greatest Story Ever Told … So Far”.

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