The author discusses the unusual situation of no real progress in physics for the last 3 decades and the quagmire it is currently in. He discusses the history of tossing in extra dimensions to get to a unified theory and the several failures along that path. In the 2nd part of the book he discusses the culture of groupthink in the physics community that would probably make it impossible for someone like Einstein to find a job in physics today (it was already hard for him in his own time).
The only important thing he does not mention is that most science today is funded by tax money coerced out of compliant tax subjects. These subjects are told to NOT think independently, that their preferences with their property are inferior to those of their masters. If you have a culture of subjugation (for most) at the root of the funding of physics, can you really expect these people to look favorably upon independent minds? Can you realistically expect that the influence of this funding can be fire walled? The funders got their money by shouting to subjects "comply or die", does it make sense that they treat the minds of physicists with respect and value someone that strays from the herd?
Yes. I will listen several times. Well done production, fascinating topic, and the truth about String Theory...what more could anyone ask?
Right from the start, Smolin identifies they 'Trouble with Physics'. Anyone really interested in Physics could not resist hearing this refreshing and un-biased viewpoint.
Walter Dixon's reading is always clear and clean - his command of reading in technical subjects is exemplary.
I was not aware of the extent to which the 'Monster' of String Theory had invaded all of Physics research, apparently to the exclusion of any actual Critical thought. Quite alarming, actually.
Many thanks to Doctor Smolin for writing a REAL Physics book for people who have wanted to know the true state of Physics for years. The last book I thought was as valuable was Gary Zukav's 'Dancing Wu Li Masters'.Other popular Physics books, these days, promote String Theory almost exclusively, and usually without even a nod to the glossing over required to swallow String Theory itself, the very limited likelihood that these problems can be overcome, and the additional Foundational Problems of the Theories-Behind-the-Theory (Quantum Theory, for instance, which, while a very successful, functional tool, cannot be applied to extensive or complex systems, and which relies on many unexplained features such as 'quantum jitters' as Brian Greene calls them, and the Uncertainty Principle - which is not explained, but has an "is because it is" acceptance among Quantum Theorists). Lee Smolin's book speaks *directly* about the 5 main Problems that Physics needs to address to get back on track and become consistent (and Scientific) again.
First, the narration is IMO very good. I have no idea how Lee Smolin talks, but Mr Dixon sounds a very authentically irritated physicist. OK, he's just reading the text, but that is not as easy as it sounds. Good choice, and well done.
The text/book is hard going at times. The core points are well made, if perhaps a bit too often. As a pee-existing skeptic of string theories, he was preaching to the choir a bit in my case, but his argument is strong and supported by both logic and evidence.
Don't get me wrong. Just because I gave this book 3 stars, does not mean that I did not like it. It is not a bad book. The target audience needs to be clear in the description of this book. That is why I gave it 3 stars.
The first half of the book focuses on the sociopolitical reasons why String Theory is so popular in college education, and how that popularity is sufficating the growth of other theories that compete with it. To understand the first half, you really need to understand String Theory. If you do not yet have a grasp of it, as I do not, then you have no way of knowing if the arguments hold water.
For me, a hobbyist in the areas of cosmology, astrology, and astrophysics, I really enjoyed the second half of the book. In the second half the author talks about competing theories, and others, that have gained little or no attention. Some of those were quite fascinating and I plan on doing some reading about them.
Near the end of the second half, the author goes deeper into the sociopolitical problems with college education in America specifically. Again, I had no foundation that gave me the right to agree or disagree. All I could do is listen to a passionate argument about something I knew little about.
The one thing that I got from this book is that Lee Smolin is very smart and passionate about his work. I would love to meet him some day and chat over a few beers and talk about the beginning of the cosmos, and what may lay beyond a black hole.
Yes, its a nice book with a deep reflexion about why Physics is stuck where it is...
The historical and sociological context that the author put in discussion and perspective.
I am very intrigued by the subject matter so I was hoping to enjoy this. To one degree it was interesting to learn about the progress (or actually the lack of progress) they are making here just from the standpoint of being "briefed".
However as you listen you eventually realize this is being told by a scientist who is only interested in tests and hypothesis that would prove his positions and beliefs rather than let the facts prove themselves. Or maybe more simply said, he has an agenda, and he is only willing to accept tests and test results that fit that agenda rather then accept the facts, be what they may.
So after going better than halfway through the book I realized there was no point in finishing; How could I possibly appreciate any of his findings when his prejudices will obviously only allow him to come to conclusions that fit those prejudices...
As to the hypocrisy; He readily admits that his and his like minded scientists workflow method boils down to making up ridiculous hypothesis about string theory and the origins of life, then testing them to see if they are true. So on the one hand he claims the high moral ground for being willing to stretch his imagination no matter how ridiculous and then test it to see if its true. However if your belief or hypothesis does not meet with his prejudices, then they are just "ridiculous". That's when you say "Huh? I thought you just said that's what you do??? I wonder if that's why you are not making any progress... You are unwilling to go where the science leads".
Auto Repair shop owner. I love Yoga, and playing my Fender Stratocaster. I Walk my dogs twice a day.
It's odd how much we don't know about physics. We build bigger and bigger atom smashers and find smaller and smaller particles. I think one day we will have an atom smasher that rings our solar system and find even smaller particles. If it is zero or infinite, "you must acquit.” I don’t think our super smart will ever find the “God Particle” until they think there is a God. Our author even states our current state of understanding of particle physics is similar to those that hold the design theory as their “science.”
I’d recommend this book for those that want to see how little we have progressed since Einstein.