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It's some two years between Our Cosmic Habitat and Sir Martin Rees' explanation why the universe is the way it is, thanks to Just Six Numbers. Six physical constants express our universe--a universe big enough and long-lived enough to engender consciousness. If the numbers were other than they are, we wouldn't be around to know about it. Our Cosmic Habitat is a smoother read, as Rees works his explanations inwards, from the physical world towards the numbers at its heart. But Rees offers more than a revamped description. The clue to the book's real value lies in the title. Our universe is a habitat. If you want to understand how a habitat works, you have to sweep away the trivia and the accidents, the merely local conditions, and uncover the underlying rules. And it isn't easy.
Could it be that those six numbers could be very slightly different, and still give rise to a conscious universe? If, as Rees speculates, there may be many universes, spawning other universes, all the time, then maybe those six numbers of his merely reflect the rough conditions necessary for the existence of a world such as ours. If he is right, this has massive implications for the kinds of answers physics can at present offer. Sweating over the precise relations between these difficult numbers in the hope of uncovering a "unified theory" will turn out to be as futile as trying to predict the precise arrangement of a snowflake, a column of tap water, the whirl of a thumbprint.
But this, it seems, is the perennial peril of science. One moment you're attaining an objective vision of underlying processes. The next, you're asking the equivalent of why, of all the bars in all the world, she had to walk into yours... --Simon Ings --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Martin appeared in the Sunday Times 16th February as author of the A Little Night Reading column his paperback writers column for The Guardian Saturday Review, was published on March 29th. An article by Martin was article of the week on www.firstscience.com. The book is mentioned as further reading in a number of articles/reviews of his new book published with Heinemann. Martin appeared on the Fi Glover Program, BBC Radio 5 on Thursday 27th February and a special National Science Week program for BBC Radio Cambridge on March 19th hewas interviewed in more depth by BBC Radio Cambridge on Sunday 6th April. Review have appeared in The Sunday Times and Focus with a notice in Nature re the publication of the paperback. He provides an excellent introduction to thesubject, moving deftly from the extremely large to the very small...SUNDAY TISee all Product Description