A remarkable and readable account of modern physics even if its ultimate positions remain unconvincing.

READ REVIEW

LOVE THIS BEAUTIFUL MUSICAL MATHEMATICAL UNIVERSE

A radical revision of modern physics offers profound spiritual implications for human life. 

According to debut author Capapas, people’s interpretation of the world has been radically revised by the “triumph of quantum theory,” the “most accurate among all theories that physical science has ever advanced.” But the current state of modern physics still suffers from two grand, interrelated problems: one is the obsessive quest for an “elusive theory of everything,” a “prolonged, futile search based on particle physics.” Secondly, at the heart of contemporary cosmology is a schism between “scientific discoveries and everybody’s shared experience of reality,” or to put it differently, between “scientific rationality and the wisdom gained from experience.” To this end, the author provides a panoramic survey of the fundamental principles of modern physics and culls her own theory of reality. She begins with the common ground of all things: vibration (“Everything vibrates”). As a result, all things have a recordable frequency and these frequencies dictate the “harmonic order” that readers ultimately experience as phenomenal objects of perception, including space and time itself as well as gravity. Moreover, that vibration constitutes the unity of all things, the “unfathomable singularity of pure light.” That pure frequency can also be understood as love, the “pure vibration that holds us all as one,” “the fundamental energy,” the “one infinite light permeating everything.” Capapas furnishes an uncommonly accessible, almost informally storylike account of the intellectual drama that ultimately spawned quantum theory as well as an erudite summary of the history of pre-modern cosmology, which, she argues, anticipates it. In addition, the author astutely points out the many ways in which, despite its extraordinary success, quantum theory still fails to capture the wholeness of human life. Capapas is not a physicist but rather a physician, and ultimately takes some scientific leaps based on her “gut.” Even if she’s right about the “vibratory interconnectedness” of all things, it’s never empirically clear why this means love is the lynchpin of the universe or why “consciousness is the fundamental element of the universe.” These are intriguing and even inspiring conclusions, but that’s not the same thing as being persuasive. 

A remarkable and readable account of modern physics even if its ultimate positions remain unconvincing.

Pub Date: May 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5469-2729-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Critics Circle Winner

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more