The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

The Accidental Universe The World You Thought You Knew From the acclaimed author of Einstein s Dreams and Mr g a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos

  • Title: The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew
  • Author: Alan Lightman
  • ISBN: 9780307908582
  • Page: 479
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From the acclaimed author of Einstein s Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raiseFrom the acclaimed author of Einstein s Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature the possibility that our universe is simply an accident the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion at once haunting and exhilarating that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

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      Published :2018-08-18T18:11:18+00:00

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    1. The Amusing UniverseIn this series of seven easy-going essays Lightman uses musings on the many curious aspects of modern Physics and the way they change our perspectives - not to discuss Science, but to philosophize on Life. Surprisingly, the most unintuitive parts of Physics are pretty normal when it comes to Life. Perhaps because we expected more order from Science than was there in the first place, more than the Universe was ever willing to give us. We can come away from these musings with t [...]

    2. Alan Lightman is incapable of writing a bad book, but I'm afraid fans of the magical Einstein's Dreams will be disappointed all the same: this slim collection of essays about Life, the Universe and Everything is not in the same class. People who have been following the faith/science debate will have seen most of it before. Worse, and I hardly know how to say this, the book contains mistakes. The rotation of the Earth means that someone on the equator is travelling at 24,000 miles a day, not 24,0 [...]

    3. Alan Lightman is the first professor at MIT to have a dual appointment in the science and humanities faculties. He has compiled a sampling of essays into a short book. The essays focus on the philosophical implications of scientific discoveries. The essays are written in a light, easy-to-read, engaging style.In his first essay, titled The Accidental Universe, Lightman tackles the anthropic paradox. Why do the fundamental laws of nature and physical properties seem to be fine-tuned just perfectly [...]

    4. Terrible! After reading Einstein's Dreams, I was really looking forward to this, especially as it's been a while since I've read a book on quantum physics and wanted an update or new insight into any new theories, especially since the discovery of the Higgs field. I am confused about all the rave reviews. There is no science in this book. Just a consistent rant from a pedantic author telling us all how we should live our lives and put down our cell phones to appreciate the green grass and blue s [...]

    5. This is a short, well-written, easy-to-read collection of seven essays—five of which were previously published. The connecting theme between them is Lightman's attempt to reconcile science with religion, spirituality, mysticism, art, music, literature.ntially, all the subjective human feelings and thoughts we have every day which are as yet unexplained by science. But he disappointingly offers little more than a politically-correct presentation of Stephen Jay Gould's "separate magisteria" argu [...]

    6. I have not read such an eye-opening book by a scientist since I used to read Loren Eiseley's work years ago. This short book of essays by MIT scientist Alan Lightman looks at the universe from several points of view, first from the point of view of its origin, its evanescence, the spiritual dimension, symmetry, size, the laws of nature, and ending up with our strange disembodied universe in which we use electronic tools that somehow mirror the discombobulation associated with quantum mechanics. [...]

    7. in our constant search for meaning in this baffling and temporary existence, trapped as we are within our three pounds of neurons, it is sometimes hard to tell what is real. we often invent what isn't there. or ignore what is. we try to impose order, both in our minds and in our conceptions of external reality. we try to connect. we try to find truth. we dream and we hope. and underneath all of these strivings, we are haunted by the suspicion that what we see and understand of the world is only [...]

    8. I believe I have found my second favorite book of all time.The Accidental Universe: The world you thought you knew. I knew my world, and I knew that this whole existence lacks meaning, or lacks data to form a meaning to it.I never thought that such book would conceptualize and unite all of my annoying depressive thoughts about my existence. I enjoyed every line of it. I was baffled by the linguistic beauty in which this book was composed by as well. Everyone who is interested in truth seeking an [...]

    9. In this, rather short and light, book Lightman explores the different perspectives when it comes to our universe. There is science as there is philosophy and religion. The most important discoveries and the author's personal musings. I immensely enjoyed this one, especially the fact that Lightman refrained from favouring one of the 'universes'. Most of them overlap anyway. But again, the fact that he stated that it all comes down to the matter of personal belief, was probably one of the aspects [...]

    10. Professor Alan Lightman is one of the brightest and, frankly, most interesting cosmologists and science writers living today. His work is simply phenomenal! "Einstein's Dreams" and "Mr. g" are among my all time favorites. Thought provoking, candid and well-written prose on exceptionally difficult concepts. I truly wish I could be a student in any one of his classes. He is that good. Sadly, however, this one did not trip my trigger. Kindly note that I have NOT yet read "The Varieties of Religious [...]

    11. I have been biased towards Alan Lightman ever since the brilliantly incandescent Einstein's Dreams, so I snatched this off of the library shelf as soon as I saw it, despite the size of my stack already and the state of my to-read shelf. Of course, this is no Einstein's Dreams, but a collection of essays about the nature of the universe. Most of the theories and interpretations discussed were not new to me, so I found little about this book to be groundbreaking. But in general I enjoy Lightman's [...]

    12. The language of this book is often quite beautiful, and there are many wonderful passages. Alan Lightman is an MIT professor and is comfortable with both the sciences and humanities. It is a good primer for those fascinated by cosmology, yet not up on its latest developments.However, the book suffers from the author's inability to imagine a non-dualist world. He admits as much in the book, and spends the rest of the book dealing with the bind he has put himself into. The struggle is interesting [...]

    13. A series of insightful essays by Alan Lightman, who just happens to be a MIT professor of both physics and the humanities.He briefly discusses the ideas of the multiverse and our place in it - without getting too much into the science of it; inflation and dark energy; the latest discovery from CERN (the Higgs Boson); quantum physics and the wave-particle duality; entropy and the nature of time.Additionally he offers a more nuanced discussion on religion and the sciences and though he considers h [...]

    14. Started listening to this. It's well read & seems well done, but the subject matter is too far out there for me. Sure, a slight change in atomic cohesive force would make for a different universe where we couldn't live. Dark energy & dark matter might be part of a multiverse. (Personally, I think they just point out holes in our knowledge.) The accelerating expansion of the universe is definitely weird.I just can't find any reason to really care & fill my head with this trivia, espec [...]

    15. Few interesting parts. Other than that nothing worth noticing. Lame aesthetic observations and mistakes at times. Very disappointing.

    16. This was a delightful collection of related essays on science, art, and the various ways of seeing the universe. I personally did not learn any new science, and the science explained is of a general nature, as befits an overall philosophical treatment. However, that's not to say that other readers won't learn some science from the science-related portions. The best parts for me were the discussions of the relationship between science and the arts. That Lightman's being a writer of fiction as wel [...]

    17. Theoretical Physicist (what a great job title) Alan Lightman has put together a fun book here, full of scientific information and philosophical ponderings about our mysterious universe (or multiple universes). He has broken the book into chapters discussing various ideas, such as the 'accidental universe', the 'temporary universe', the 'spiritual universe’, etc. And in general I found each one to be very interesting. I especially enjoyed the grand scope of "the gargantuan universe" and the non [...]

    18. I'm stalled about halfway in, and abandoning the book. So far, a lot of philosophical hand-waving. More or less science-free. Not for me!Mixed reviews here, although most readers liked it more than I did. If you scan the 2-star reviews, you will get an idea of why the book gets mixed reviews. He seems to be an unusually pessimistic guy.

    19. The Accidental Universe is a collection of seven contemplative essays on different aspects of the universe: the Accidental Universe, the Temporary Universe, the Spiritual Universe, the Symmetrical Universe, the Gargantuan Universe, the Lawful Universe, and the Disembodied Universe. If you are well versed in astrophysics and religion, there's really no new information. Instead, Lightman poses questions and provokes thought, blurring the lines between religion, science, philosophy, and humanities. [...]

    20. I've long enjoyed Lightman's fiction, so I was pretty excited when I came across this book. It's a quick read, which is pretty typical for him, but (also typical) it gets across some pretty mind-expanding ideas. Accidental Universe is a series of essays, each taking on a different scientific topic with philosophical implications. For instance, there's an interesting exploration of what the instance of intelligent life means in a random iteration of a potentially multi-verse. Others examine the a [...]

    21. This book consists of what are more like casual musing than essays. Certainly, Lightman has earned the right to muse, but I was hoping for something a little more concrete in terms of content. The book's greatest strength is its moderate position, and if there is one central theme it's that people who seek knowledge should also cultivate understanding.The last section ends on a weak note, which unfortunately made my final evaluation of the book a little less positive than it might have otherwise [...]

    22. This is a short, marvelously well-written set of contemplations on the wonders of the physical universe and our relation to it and stance toward it. Lightman's prose are quiet, elegant, a joy to read, and the ideas he ponders swirl through the mind long after each piece is done. It's subtitled "The Word You Thought You Knew." While the actual science discussed did not show me anything really new (except for the discussions about the Higgs Boson) it was the way he interwove our reactions and our [...]

    23. I think I have had more than my required dose of cosmology and brain warping. In addition to Hawking, I picked this book up, accidentally. :) Quite interesting, and thought provoking, and surprisingly it didn't really shake me up with the ginormous expanses and physics explanations. But I thought: Why can't there be many dark energies? Why can't light have multiple speeds, in different parts of the galaxy? Why isn't there energies and other phenomena we just haven't discovered yet. I know it wil [...]

    24. 3-starsAt just 157 pages this can be read easily in a couple hours. I would most recommend this to anyone who was new to the "big questions" from the POV of science, philosophy, and religion. It's a good introduction to that, IMO. I don't agree with everything in it, but I did pick up quite a few new science facts.

    25. “We are living in one of a cast number of universes. We are living in an accidental universe. We are living in a universe incalculable by science.”Warning Nerdgirling :THAT WAS SERIOUSLY NERDGASMIC. The amounts of evens I can’t: so high it caused a systematic dysfunction.I cannot explain my dysfunctional exuberance regarding this particular read, maybe it’s because I haven’t really read anything this beautifully simplified, or it’s because I was familiar with most of the theories men [...]

    26. It's clear Alan Lightman is enthralled by what he had discovered in his work as physicist and professor, and that enthusiasm seeps off each page of this book. He constantly illuminates his readers to the wonders of the universe by simplistically explaining complex scientific systems/theories and threading the with psychological and sociological theories on how mankind is and has to deal with these truths. It's a fascinating collection of questions and wonderings, but that was the extent to which [...]

    27. Lightman, a physics professor at MIT, has a brain roughly twice the size of an average person’s; fortunately for humankind, he has sworn to only use his powers for good. He starts this fantastic collection of previously published essays by relating how he met the Dalai Lama at MIT, and it’s exactly this kind of cross-pollinating of the spiritual world with the scientific one that exemplifies this title. “Science,” he writes, “does not reveal the meaning of our existence, but it does dr [...]

    28. Great, awesome, light science book for everyone who likes science but didn't really get past the 101 classes.I started reading Canon, which people love, and I found it preachy and frantic. I stopped after the Prologue and a few pages of the first chapter. I just couldn't.This book, instead of trying to tackle microcosms of "What Is Science?", goes straight after our own existence, and how our uncertainties of the past turned to certainties only lead to more uncertainties today.Lightman has a won [...]

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