Las Cruces, NM, United States
The book is short, simple and full of attitude.
'Nothing' is impossible. Just as 'nothing' goes faster than the speed of light (two galaxies far away from each other will recede from each other faster than speed of light), 'nothing' is unstable. Virtual particles will be created and there will be a violation of the second law of thermodynamics. He explains way better than I can and this short book is worth the listen.
The book explains how our understanding of space has been changing over time. They used to say space was a vacuum, then they would add something to the definition until finally they say that the fabric of space is teeming with vacuum energy and virtual particles are constantly being created and destroyed and dark energy floating around.
I'm a little bit puzzled why this book didn't make a bigger splash after it's publication. The author did such a good job at defending his view points. I guess, part of the problem is his view points on creation aren't mainstream. There is also the little problem of the biggest mismatch in all of science. The 10 to the 120th magnitude difference between what theory predicts and how much dark energy there really is.
The author is an exception to the rule that the author should never read his own book. He does a very good job.
The book is well explained, read and concise. Well worth the quick listen and will give you a good explanation for a possible explanation for our place in the universe.
I've probably listened to and rated over 15 books about evolution over the last two years, but I was always hesitant to read the granddaddy of them all. I should not have been and am glad I did for the following reasons,
1) The book reads as well as any of the good popular science books available on audible. It is written as if his attended audience is for a 13 year old. That's how good of a writer Darwin is.
2) I had obtained a google book version, but couldn't bring myself to read it, and I had obtained a free audio version floating around the net, but this audio version is professionally read and doesn't suffer at all from the narrator.
3) The book lays out a very complicated argument in 13 basically independent chapters. Each chapter by itself is enough to convince the listener of the fact of evolution by natural selection. The author is very smooth at telling you what he's going to tell you, then tell you, and then explain to you what he has just told you.
4) The book is a guidebook on how to lay out an argument and convince others to your viewpoint. He makes sure that he fairly presents criticism that could attack his theory and refutes it masterfully.
5) My favorite reason for having read this book is that my smugness index has gone up. When I come across people who haven't read the book and deny the scientific fact of evolution I can now say that I have listened to the book and smugly add statements like "even a thirteen year old can understand evolution, haven't you even read 'On the Origin of Species'".
The author tells a good story and ties together his main themes fairly well. He is a philosopher and approaches the subject from that perspective. It's a fun read and easy to follow, but it's definitely not full of scientific facts. The author preferred Noam Chomskey and Stephen Gould's ideas on the early development of man as opposed to Dawkins and Pinker. I definitely am in the Dawkins/ Pinker camp, but that didn't mar the listening experience and I'm always glad to hear a different perspective, and the author presented each camp fairly.
I'm really glad for the existence of audible. I would have never been able to force myself to read this book, but I had a very pleasant experience while listening to it. Thank you audible for making books like this available to me at such a cheap price of only one credit.
The author reads his own book and as with many non-professional readers he reads too slowly. I suggest you listen to it at 1.25 speed.
I was prepared not to like this book, but I enjoyed it very much. The author does a very good job at summarizing the state of physics in 2007 and the influence of string theory as of that point in time. He does an excellent job of explaining physics and does a good job of putting string theory into its proper context. He starts off with the five major problems haunting physics (measurement problem, where do constants come from, grand unified theory, and two things) and explains what they mean in detail.
He does mention that it's easy to knock something down without putting forth alternatives. The last third of the book is his attempt at giving alternatives. If audible makes available the authors current book "Time Reborn", I would get it in a heart beat. The author is that good at explaining science and the most enjoyable part of this book was the last third of the book where he speculates on future alternatives to string theory.
A lot of his criticisms he gives to string theory could apply to any science branch. Such as statement that scientist are insular within their specialty and aren't willing to listen to other scientist who are in another specialty that doesn't support their specialty. With that mind, I think when he singled out String Theorist, I would just imagine that he was talking about quantum loop gravity specialist instead.
The narrator, Walter Dixon, is one of the few whose book I would buy just because he's narrating, and as usual he didn't disappoint.
The author excels at making the history come alive by telling multiple stories that go into understanding the Enigma code breaking and its importance for the Battle of the North Atlantic. At first, I didn't understand why he was telling me some of the stories in great detail, but than he would always tie the story into why it was important for understanding the Enigma code breaking.
He makes you realize all the moving parts that goes into understanding any one facet of WW II. For example, he'll go into great detail about an allied convoy and what it means when some of the message traffic is intercepted and what it meant for the convoy. He made it such that you felt you were on the convoy and any moment a German U-boat could be threatening.
He really cleared up in my mind what it means when people say we broke the code. It's much more nuanced then I had always believed. The story of the Polish mathematicians and their approach kept me on the edge of my seat and is just one of the many, many different stories the author makes come alive.
A good author is one who loves his subject and can put it into the context of the whole. This author obviously loves the topic and knew how to put it into the context of all the moving parts within WW II, and why it was so important for the Allies survival.
One warning, this is one of the view books where I would get lost by the mathematics, but the flow of the story is still understandable and exciting, and I really have corrected some major misunderstanding I had about the cracking of the code and what it meant.
The book doesn't suffer at all from its age. It explains complex material in simple to understand prose. The author writes the book as a series of essays but links them all together as a coherent whole. I've read more recent books on DNA and its ramifications, but none of them covered these topics better than this book did.
Data is not understood in a vacuum, so the author first enchants the listener with the history and myths of the people of Great Britain and relates that to what his DNA analysis tells him. The story comes alive when he explains the history and myth of the British, and he writes better than almost anyone on those topics.
The author steps you through past attempts at understanding the genetics of the British and how DNA can be used to help deconvolve the problem.
He never lets the science or the data get in the way of telling a good narrative and at times the book was like listening to a beautiful song.
The book is more of a text book than a popular science book. The author is very good at stating what he's going to tell you, than tells you, and than summarize what he just told you.
I understand chemistry even less than I understand bio-chemistry and the book uses both extensively. He'll explain the terms and often I wouldn't understand any of the technical words for whole pages (minutes) at a time, but I would always understand what his point was.
The book is not for the faint of heart and is by far the most difficult book I have ever listen to because of its complexity. After having listen to it, I really have an understanding of how the universe could have become self aware.
The reader does an excellent job of reading the book in a dry manner as if it were a text book. I have a feeling that the book could be used in a graduate course on the origins of life in a bio-chem or biology graduate course.
The book is definitely worth risking a credit on, but beware it is a difficult listen.
This book is not just for lovers of words (of which I am not), but it has a great history of the English speaking peoples interwoven with it, and that will be enough to keep non-word lovers like me completely interested.
The book gave me more reasons why humans are different from anything else known in the universe and how we got that way.
I've been looking for a book like this one which takes all the anomalies and traumas that have happened to individuals and weaves them all together in a coherent story about how our mind works and doesn't work. The mind is a wonderful thing to understand and this book goes a long way in helping me understand it.
The author has one of the best droll sense of humors I have ever come across while listening and he made me laugh out loud multiple times. The narrator really knew how to add the proper amount of drollness and added to the experience.
This is one of the few books where I lost something by listening instead of reading. I would get confused when he talked about some of the illustrations of the optical illusions under discussion and when he talks and names different areas of the brain, I would get lost and forget which region does what. Overall, even if I had read the book with the maps of the brain, I wouldn't have followed the names of the regions of the brain, but be warned, it does get very confusing while listening.
From the first sentence onward, you know you are not listening to an ordinary story written by an ordinary writer.
This is my first introduction to the author, Philip K. Dick, and it won't be my last. He's noted for his science fiction and this story only skirts around the edges of that genre. Things aren't what they appear and he makes you realize that the normal (the sister Fay) is more crazy than the bizarre (Jack, the brother and crap artist).
The story is a a pure pleasure to listen to. The observations on life in the 50s are cutting and fun. Self serving interest can lead to absurdities. It took me a while to realize who was the real crazy person in the story. Philip K. Dick is now on my to listen list.
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