From the sages of ancient Greece, through Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, great minds have toiled to understand the Universe. AFB Alexander Scourby Award-winner Mark Ashby is appealing and performs without unnecessary flourishes as he entertains and enlightens with Prominent Canadian science writer and broadcaster Dan Falk’s explanation of the history and ideas that pave the way in the quest for a "Unified Theory". Great thinkers, quirky personalities, interesting tales, scientific breakthroughs have all been the background to today’s attempts to merge quantum theory and general relativity.
No scientific quest is as exciting and elusive as the search to understand the Universe. Falk's book places this search in its historical context, tracing the quest from its roots in ancient Greece to the 21st century, through the breakthroughs of Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein, up to the excitement of "string theory" and today's efforts to merge quantum theory with general relativity. With as much emphasis on history as on science, Falk's enlightening and entertaining book is aimed very much for the general reader. The search for a Unified Theory is full of quirky personalities, interesting tales, and moments of brilliance-high science and high drama.
This is largely just one more in a long line of books that spend almost the entire book presenting a layman’s history of science followed by a short presentation of some mildly novel idea. Here the history is just OK (with a recurring bit of suggesting each theory’s T-shirt). This was followed by a couple of chapters relating religion to a Theory Of Everything. That was about it. I expected a thoughtful analysis of what a TOE might mean for mankind, or the forms a TOE might take, or something else thoughtful and interesting regarding possible TOEs. Instead it mentioned that string theory might, maybe, someday, yield a TOE (then in the afterword notes that string theory has more recently lost much of its momentum).
This was also mostly written quite a few years ago with a few new notes and a new afterword.
Overall I did not find much to dislike, but also little to like.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I loved this!! A great review of the history of the parts that have lead up to where we are now in string theory and physics. I will even recommend this for my son when he gets to physics is his schooling.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Relative to the two previous, seemingly conflicting reviews, I'll be a good dialectician and side with both. This book does function well as a concise beginner's overview of the main developments in physics. Nothing original, but clear and brief, well written and nicely read.
It is not, however, the more ambitious work implied in its title, the one I had hoped to get for my money. The book really does not deal with the philosophical issues entailed in a "theory of everything," a topic that might include the possibility of a metaphysics, the justification of Occam's Razor, the "peculiar efficacy" of mathematical equations, or the general role of reductionism in science. The "Universe on a T-Shirt" is little more than a heuristic gimmick.
The book also indulges, here and there, in the standard swipes at modern philosophy that seem so irresistible to science writers, the more so the less philosophy they have actually read. Buy it if you want a good, brief introduction. Just don't expect more intellectual sweat than you could soak up with a T-shirt.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I study quantum mechanics so I tend to look for the books others do not like due to complexity or mathematics. I am very laid back about my expectations of audio books so I rarely complain. This is one of those times. The narrator is great. I hate soft spoken narrators because you cannot hear anything if you walk a few feet away or have visual distractions. This narrator should do all audio books. Next to Berry White or James Earl Jones I couldn't ask for better listening enjoyment. That said I am left with the content which is rehashed info from any source online meaning you could google the books title and learn more from search results in the first five hits. I know the author is better then this so it really makes me wonder why he published such drab material. If you want really dumbed down science then this is it. If you are really interested in the topics in this book then you should always be challenged by what you are reading. If not then you are just getting a rerun of someone else's work.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful