Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Time, as a fourth dimension, is a mystery that Professor Sean Carroll partly unravels in a lecture series titled Mysteries of Modern Physics. Carroll helps Physics’ dilettantes, like this essayist, broaden understanding of the mechanics of the universe; albeit at the cost of some confusion and a headache.
Carroll defines words that are commonly understood by Physics’ students and vaguely or not understood by everyone else. He defines time’s arrow, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics. Each definition offers insight to the mystery of time.
Time remains a mystery at the end of Carroll’s lectures. Travel to the future seems a possibility but travel to the past, a logical impossibility. Carroll speculates on the idea of a multiverse from periodic reversals in the arrow of time that creates new universes from new big bangs. There is much more in Carroll’s lectures that tickle the synapses and light up dendrites of a listener’s mind.
“The Magic of Reality” introduces science to children and adults that wish to see the world as a place of wondrous events and boundless opportunity. Richard Dawkins is an unrepentant atheist but his writing and presentation does not convince one of a Godless universe.
“The Magic of Reality” is not a debate about science or second coming. Dawkins de-mythologizes the hypocritical beliefs of those who insist on the literal truth of the Bible and infers a challenge to those who believe in the reliability of organized religion. Dawkins fails to convince one that God does not exist but he believes most of humankind is fooled by an emotive mind.
Dawkins does for general science what Richard Feynman is said to do for Physics, i.e. he makes complex theories simple to understand. Dawkins’ interspersion of apocryphal stories enliven practices and theories of real science; i.e. science’s methods and results are explained in simple language.
Dawkins shows that mankind seeks nature’s truth through science because without science there is no future. The species, Homo sapiens, is capable of escaping extinction but only through continued exploration of science; i.e. species evolution alone is not enough.
Dawkins notes that our sun will become so hot in two billion years that life, as we know it, will be over .Should we wait for the Bible’s “second coming” or should we plan for a future on some other planet? Dawkins book is an excellent introduction to science; not a refutation of God.
Sean Carroll is a theoretical cosmologist and senior research associate at the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His most recent book is “The Particle at the End of the Universe” which is focused on the story of Higgs boson, the widely and incorrectly termed “god particle”, that may have recently been found by CERN with Large-Hadron-Collider’ experiments. (HIGGS BOSON PARTICLE CONFIRMED 7/4/2012.)
Carroll explains that experimental proofs of quantum mechanics are the reason Higgs boson, or something like it, must exist. That is why the discovery is so important. Higgs boson is the field in which known particles of the universe gain mass. Without Higgs boson or something that works like Higgs boson, life would not exist.
Carroll offers other insights—about symmetry, super-symmetry, and breaking symmetry. He touches on dark matter and string theory. All are interestingly presented.
In general, Carroll crystallizes the importance of theoretical and experimental science. When listeners finish “The Particle at the End of the Universe, they will understand why Higgs boson is a magnificent discovery and the LHC is worth a nine-billion-dollar investment.