Not an easy read, but for those with at least some background in quantum mechanics and relativity, it should prove both...

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THE GENERAL THEORY OF INFORMATION: ORIGIN OF TRUTH AND HOPE

Authors Bach and Belardo use Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and quantum physics to establish a philosophical paradigm they say will lead to hope and happiness for mankind.

The book opens with a rather perplexing prologue, preface and introduction. These sections confound, in part, because of an inherent paradox. They continually use the terms “unthinkable” and “unspeakable,” without explaining what, precisely, is unimaginable or unsayable. Fortunately, clarity rules once the science begins—no small task considering the subject matter. It turns out that the unthinkable, unspeakable things are the implications of the Theories of Relativity, constructs that thwart our brains and mouths. This is dense stuff, but basically, quantum experiments have demonstrated that two particles can confer information instantaneously across any distance and time frame. Since this violates Einstein’s Theories of Relativity by exceeding the speed of light, scientists, including Einstein, began a debate that rages to the present. Without getting into that argument, which is not really covered in the book, the authors posit that relativity is not being violated. Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc2, they say, demonstrates that at the speed of light, all of space-time equals zero and in fact all information of the past, present and future, equals infinite and, therefore, exists as a single inseparable point, a realm they call nospacetime, nonlocality and an information singularity. Since all things are one in nospacetime, the information has not traveled any distance at all. The authors then attempt to make the leap to philosophy by postulating that somehow the knowledge of this oneness of all things on the nonlocal level will in itself change mankind’s wicked ways. As with most leaps from science to values and beliefs, their assumptions are not necessarily on a par with their scientific ones.

Not an easy read, but for those with at least some background in quantum mechanics and relativity, it should prove both fascinating and enlightening on a scientific level, even if the promised salvation of the human race falls somewhat short.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470026134

Page Count: 150

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2012

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An enthusiastic appreciation of a spectacular astrophysical entity.

BLACK HOLE SURVIVAL GUIDE

A short, lively account of one of the oddest and most intriguing topics in astrophysics.

Levin, a Guggenheim fellow and professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College, knows her subject well, but her goal is appreciation as much as education, and there is much to admire in a black hole. Before Einstein, writes the author, scientists believed that the force of gravity influenced the speed of moving objects. They also knew that light always travels at exactly the speed of light. This combination made no sense until 1915, when Einstein explained that gravity is not a force but a curving of space (really, space-time) near a body of matter. The more massive the matter, the greater it curves the space in its vicinity; other bodies that approach appear to bend or change speed when they are merely moving forward through distorted space-time. Einstein’s equations indicated that, above a certain mass, space-time would curve enough to double back on itself and disappear, but this was considered a mathematical curiosity until the 1960s, when objects that did just that began turning up: black holes. Light cannot emerge from a black hole, but it is not invisible. Large holes attract crowds of orbiting stars whose density produces frictional heating and intense radiation. No writer, Levin included, can contain their fascination with the event horizon, the boundary of the black hole where space-time doubles back. Nothing inside the event horizon, matter or radiation, can leave, and anything that enters is lost forever. Time slows near the horizon and then stops. The author’s discussions of the science behind her subject will enlighten those who have read similar books, perhaps the best being Marcia Bartusiak’s Black Hole (2015). Readers coming to black holes for the first time will share Levin’s wonder but may struggle with some of her explanations.

An enthusiastic appreciation of a spectacular astrophysical entity.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65822-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

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LAB GIRL

Award-winning scientist Jahren (Geology and Geophysics/Univ. of Hawaii) delivers a personal memoir and a paean to the natural world.

The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. Jahren’s journey from struggling student to struggling scientist has the narrative tension of a novel and characters she imbues with real depth. The heroes in this tale are the plants that the author studies, and throughout, she employs her facility with words to engage her readers. We learn much along the way—e.g., how the willow tree clones itself, the courage of a seed’s first root, the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, and the airborne signals used by trees in their ongoing war against insects. Trees are of key interest to Jahren, and at times she waxes poetic: “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. Present throughout is her lab partner, a disaffected genius named Bill, whom she recruited when she was a graduate student at Berkeley and with whom she’s worked ever since. The author’s tenacity, hope, and gratitude are all evident as she and Bill chase the sweetness of discovery in the face of the harsh economic realities of the research scientist.

Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87493-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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