Letting the rest of the world go by
This was not an easy book to understand and the particle zoo plays a large role in the discussion and often I would lose my way only because the material is sometimes hard to follow, but the book covers everything you always wanted to know about the Higgs Boson and its field, but were afraid to ask.
I absolutely loved the author's previous book, "From Eternity to Here", and couldn't wait for this book. He's such a good writer and explains better than almost anyone. There are enough good parts in this book to make the particle zoo part worth listening to.
There's one important theme that runs through the book that will make the book easier to understand. That is these five words: "not observed waves, observed particles". In the background of the universe is the Higgs field and it is the vibration of this field that gives particles their mass. The author explains this and relates it to possible solutions to dark matter and dark energy.
The author writes in a straightforward manner and explains the science in a highly entertaining manner. If I ever sit next to somebody in a waffle house who starts talking about his life stories, I can easily pivot into one of the five stories splendidly presented in this book. The writer was that good at telling the stories about the blunders, and having listened to it I can probably relate the whole book and it's major points without missing a beat. That tells me the book was well presented.
The narrator made the book better than the written book. I found some of his voices a real hoot, particularly Darwin and Einstein. I would definitely recommend the audible version versus the written form of this book.
For me, this book was a template for having worked in the real world surrounded around very smart people who would fall into the blunders that are illustrated by these five stories. I don't think the author realized how relevant the stories could be for most working stiffs and the kind of people we often have to work with.
Instead of picking Einstein's blunder as the cosmological constant, he should have picked Einstein's failure to accept quantum mechanics after having co-discovered it and wasting his time on the GUT (grand unified theorem) outside of the context of quantum physics. I know why he picked the cosmological constant. It's a funner story to relate and is more relevant today because of the mystery of Dark Energy, and the word blunder is not usually associated with that for Einstein and the cosmological constant is.
Overall, the stories are well presented, and it was narrated much better than it was written, but the author missed a great opportunity to make a better book about the foibles of life in general.
1) Davies explains physics and philosophy better than any one,
2) The chapter on entropy is one of the best I've ever heard,
3) The philosophy of the approaches to science from atomism, reductionism and the teleologic of Aristotle is explained in accessible ways for the non-philosopher and are put in proper context,
4) Determinism and randomness of physics are completely explored and expertly explained,
5) Gives good explanation on chaos theory,
6) You will have learned something you didn't know by listening.
1) The book is dated. Originally published 1988. No Dark Energy. Inflation Theory becomes more developed after book is published,
2) His holistic approach is not believable to me,
3) He does not take evolution as a fact. Books by Dawkins, Robert Wright, and E.O. Wilson have drilled in to me that evolution is a fact,
4) When he speculates on what will possibly come to pass, it hasn't,
5) The process of formation of galaxies is much better understood today than when the book was originally published,
6) Hard to follow some of the math and charts while listening,
7) Very hard to follow his Cellular Automation explanation just by listening. Look up rule110 on wiki before listening and that will make it easier to follow.
Book is dated. He explains science and philosophy better than anyone. He has strong opinions for his pet theories, but he is incredibly fair and presents all sides. I love reading Paul Davies and I wish Audible had more of his books.