You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Grand Design

The Grand Design is the latest book by Stephen Hawking, with the help of Lawrence Mlodinow. It is an explanation of the fundamental laws of the universe and how they have been determined. They start with the basics of gravity and electromagnetism, moving quickly to relativity and quantum mechanics. They describe the experiments behind quantum theory.

One of the most interesting parts is the brief description of the early moments of the universe, how the universe expanded at an extreme rate in the first few seconds. They describe the mathematics of string theory that says there are eleven dimensions in space-time, with most of them curled up so that we can't notice them. An illuminating ramification is that space-time has no boundary--just as there is nothing outside the three dimensions of the universe, there is nothing "before" or "after" the beginning or the end of the universe.

I enjoyed learning about the structure of the universe. While not simple, Hawking and Mlodinow make the physics easy to understand, at least at a high level. It is amazing to learn about the weak and strong anthropic principles--that not only are the facts of our existing well suited to our existence, but also the laws of the universe itself. A-


Anonymous Ron Krumpos said...

In "The Grand Design" Hawking says that we are somewhat like goldfish in a curved fishbowl. Our perceptions are limited and warped by the kind of lenses we see through, “the interpretive structure of our human brains.” Albert Einstein rejected this subjective approach, common to much of quantum mechanics, but did admit that our view of reality is distorted.

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity has the surprising consequences that “the same event, when viewed from inertial systems in motion with respect to each other, will seem to occur at different times, bodies will measure out at different lengths, and clocks will run at different speeds.” Light does travel in a curve, due to the gravity of matter, thereby distorting views from each perspective in this Universe. Similarly, mystics’ experience in divine oneness, which might be considered the same "eternal" event, viewed from various historical, cultural and personal perspectives, have occurred with different frequencies, degrees of realization and durations. This might help to explain the diversity in the expressions or reports of that spiritual awareness. What is seen is the same; it is the "seeing" which differs.

In some sciences, all existence is described as matter or energy. In some of mysticism, only consciousness exists. Dark matter is 25%, and dark energy about 70%, of the critical density of this Universe. Divine essence, also not visible, emanates and sustains universal matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and cosmic consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). During suprarational consciousness, and beyond, mystics share in that essence to varying extents. [quoted from on comparative mysticism]

2:45 PM, January 09, 2011  

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