EINSTEIN, GERTRUDE STEIN, WITTGENSTEIN AND FRANKENSTEIN: Re-Inventing the Universe by John Brockman

EINSTEIN, GERTRUDE STEIN, WITTGENSTEIN AND FRANKENSTEIN: Re-Inventing the Universe

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A roller-coaster survey of current scientific theories and propositions that are radically altering Man's perception of the universe. Those who cannot hope to fathom the intricacies of quantum theory, pulsars, black holes, quarks, or oncogenes, but who wish for just a smattering of information about such things will enjoy feeling like a scientist for a day while reading this book. A word of caution for those who feel they can tell a book by its cover: the text has nothing to do with Einstein, Stein, Wittgenstein, or Frankenstein. Rather, these characters are symbolic of the conceptual framework of Brockman's work. Einstein represents the 20th-century revolution in physics; Stein the indeterminacy and discontinuousness of the universe (a universe is a universe is a universe); Wittgenstein the metaphysical nature of the universe; Dr. Frankenstein--the first creator of artificial intelligence--serves as symbol of the cybernetic ideas of Norbert Wiener and others. Brockman, a literary agent who handles science writers, uses this framework to discuss theories of the universe from its various aspects--cosmological, quantum, biological, mathematical, and spiritual. Through it all, he insists that scientists are creating the world rather than discovering it, and he offers his text as a status report and appraisal of these creations. If there is any weakness here, it is that Brockman's report is fairly value-free. But then, how can it not be when assessing theorists who can deal in, say, the accuracy of the age of the universe, give or take four billion years? A useful overview, and, in its own way, a pleasure to scan.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking