Format Hardcover
Publication Date 08/01/13
ISBN 9781605984728
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.3 in / 336

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Farewell to Reality

How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth

Jim Baggott

From acclaimed science author Jim Baggot, a pointed critique of modern theoretical physics.

In this stunning new volume, Jim Baggott argues that there is no observational or experimental evidence for many of the ideas of modern theoretical physics: super-symmetric particles,super strings, the multiverse, the holographic principle,or the anthropic cosmological principle. These theories are not only untrue, it is not even science. It is fairy-tale physics:fantastical, bizarre and often outrageous, perhaps even confidence-trickery.This book provides a much-needed antidote. Informed,comprehensive, and balanced, it offers lay readers the latest ideas about the nature of physical reality while clearly distinguishing between fact and fantasy. With its engaging portraits of many central figures of modern physics, including Paul Davies, John Barrow, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking,and Leonard Susskind, it promises to be essential reading forall readers interested in what we know and don’t know about the nature of the universe and reality itself.

Jim Baggott is an award-winning science writer. A former academic chemist, he maintains a broad interest in science, philosophy, and history, and writes on these subjects for New Scientist and other journals. His books have been widely acclaimed and include A Beginner's Guide to Reality (Pegasus, 2006), The First War of Physics (Pegasus, 2010), The Meaning of Quantum Physics (Oxford, 1992), and Beyond Measure Modern Physics, Philosophy, and the Meaning of Quantum Theory (Oxford, 2004). He lives in England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“From superstrings and black holes to dark matter and multiverses, modern theoretical physics revels in the bizarre. Now it’s wandered into the realm of “fairy-tale,” says science writer and former “practicing” physicist Baggott (A Beginners Guide to Reality). Quantum theory led scientists to create a Standard Model of physics in the mid-20th century, but that model is really an amalgam of distinct individual quantum theories necessary to describe a diverse array of forces and particles. Meanwhile, astronomical observations have revealed that 90% of our universe is made of something we can’t see (dark matter); some mysterious “dark energy” is pushing all of it apart at an accelerating rate, and physicists are gambling on a “supersymmetry” theory in hopes that it could be the holy grail, a Grand Unified Field Theory that might lend coherence to the Standard Model while explaining some of the phenomena the latter fails to account for—despite the fact, Baggott says, that for “every standard model problem it resolves, another problem arises that needs a fix.” In consistently accessible and intelligent prose, Baggott sympathetically captures the frustrations of physicists while laying out a provocative—and very convincing—plea for a reality check in a field that he feels is now too “meta” for its own good. Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Baggott has done something that I would have thought impossible in a popular book. He navigates successfully between the Scylla of mathematical rigor and the Charybd is of popular nonsense.” The Wall Street Journal
“The basic history behind the quantum revolution is well known, but no one has ever told it in such a compellingly human and thematically seamless way.” Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Intellectually gratifying.” The Economist