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The Universe: Order Without Design Hardcover – 30 Jun 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (30 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027140
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,420,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carlos I. Calle is a senior research scientist and laboratory director at NASA Kennedy Space Center. In addition to publishing over 150 scientific papers, he is the author of four books for the general reader.

His most recent book, The Universe - Order Without Design, presents the current cosmological theories, exploring the problem of origins and the exciting possibility that science can explain the existence of the universe. His discussion is honest and rooted in science, evaluating each theory in light of the testable predictions that they make and that can be verified in the not too distant future.

He writes his books in his library at home. When he is away from his NASA lab and not working on a new book, he enjoys drawing and sculpting.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter White on 7 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terrible is the only word I can use. This book is a con. The title belies the fact that it is a summary (and a damned boring one at that) of acadmeic physics today from the usual standpoint that has zero controversy. This is about as avant garde as reading entrails was in the Roman empire. What annoyed me is that the book titles itself to engage philosophy and religion - forget it - what you are in for in this is magazine physics - we have all the answers - the answers we dont have are because those questions are stupid (ich dont think so) really what can i say - dont buy it

if you want something that is what is says and will get your brain into second gear, i highly recommend fingerprints on the universe by lewis pollack
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Overview of Physics, Weak Argument For Thesis 26 May 2009
By David Nichols - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Physicist Carlos Calle offers a modern view of the current landscape of physics in The Universe. While Calle's effort is a solid history of physics and related theories, his book seriously disappointed in delivering arguments for his primary thesis, namely that the reality of nature shows that there is no need for a designer to create the order we see (a statement I personally believe).

The first 150 pages or so are a history of physics, including the various players and theories discussed in almost every other popular physics book. No new territory is covered here, and while the effort is solid, there is really no reason for experienced readers of physics books to even bother reading this part. New science readers can find loads of great information, however. The final sections of the book look at modern events and ongoing developments in physics which are pushing the edge of what we know and what we can know.

Calle's book would stand nicely on its own if it were presented as an updated look at the world of physics and its history. However, I ordered this book new, which I rarely do, because its subtitle clearly stated the book would argue that reality shows the order and complexity we see has no need for a designer. There are lots of arguments to be made on this behalf, especially those dealing with fine tuning and the Goldilocks Zone. But, instead Calle muddles through most of this with only hints toward the stronger arguments.

His treatment of the mysterious and contentious cosmological constant is outright terrible. Repeatedly, he admits that physicists really don't know why it is there and offers competing theories for just what the constant represents. He argues at one point that it is antigravity, yet offers not one shred of evidence that this is so. He brings up inflation theory and string theory as backbone for his effort, and supplements parts of cyclical model and eternal inflation as needed in his discussion. Even if true, there is no proof of many of these theories and they certainly can't offer any solid reason to believe that order does not require design. If you are going to claim there is no need for a designer, picking and choosing parts of unverified (and in some cases, unverifiable) theories as you see fit is a poor way to show that you are correct.

Physicists and physics readers have long accepted that the science will always be 'in the dark' about a great many things, but to spend the entire book letting us know that we "just don't know" much of anything is an extremely poor way to support your thesis.

Victor Stenger, in his book God: The Failed Hypothesis takes the same stance that Calle adopts, yet offers strong evidence for order without design. There are numerous ways to establish this, but Calle does what amounts to a magic trick by filling the reader with nifty physics tidbits and then saying this means order can come about without design. I believe the premise, but Calle has not convinced me with his arguments. There are so many gaps in his logic (as read from the book, at least) that anyone arguing on behalf of the need for a designer would certainly find numerous ways to use this book as proof that physics can't offer anything better than religion in answering the big questions.

So, what to rate The Universe. If it stood on its own as an overview and history of cutting-edge physics, this would be a solid effort worthy of a read and a four-star rating. The author is well-versed in his subject and writes in an easy to follow style even during some of the more abstract theories. However, I picked this book up expecting a strong argument to be made based on the book's subtitle, and I imagine I am not the only one to make this mistake. Poorly titled books are terribly unfair to the reader and in this case seriously misrepresent the ultimate contents of the work. Calle says repeatedly that no designer is needed, but he really offers no systematic proof of his argument. So, I give this book three stars. Four star content weighed down by a two star delivery of the book's primary purpose.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Order without God 7 Oct. 2011
By D. Wayne Dworsky - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author of The Universe raised a significant question concerning the nature of the universe in his subtitle. While other reviewers have examined his evidence, taking the position that it contradicts a case for order without design, I believe that Calle has succeeded in making his case. He acknowledges the revelation in theoretical physics, cosmology, Big Bang Theory and the expansion of the universe, making the case that order in the universe prevails whether or not God is present.

Although his review of the literature is comprehensive and accurate, he only tiptoes through the vast jungle of fragile ideas that support his notion of order without design. Even though he pleads a strong case for believing that such order does indeed exist, he refuses to yield to divine intervention.

I think that Calle allows himself the luxury to explore every avenue. Working his way through the literature, the reader feels enlightened because the author draws upon the ideas of the greatest thinkers to drive the most significant ideas. It is a good read filled with many ways to challenge your own thoughts. I highly recommend the work for those who do not seek absolute answers to a nebulous question.
Accessible without being belittling, detailed without being beguiling. 20 April 2015
By Christopher Mott - Published on
Format: Hardcover
(copying what I wrote in goodreads here)

I first read this book at the very start of my explorations past the very basic astronomy knowledge I have and into the deeper physics behind them. As it was, I was not quite ready to understand everything it had to offer. I knew it was deeply interesting, and from its thorough overviews I also knew which other authors I would be turning to for information and that I had to brush up on the basics as well.

Over a 5 year period that is what I did. I read a little physics here and a little there between my more normal history/philosophy/politics/fiction intake. Then I decided to come full circle and re-read this book knowing much more than I previously did.

Needless to say it fit the purpose both times. The first time it gave me the information to go forth and learn more, and the second enabled me to really synthesize everything I had gone out to learn more in as a type of summation. It could just be random circumstance, or it could be that this is a very special book, but I can say it worked for me like no other hard science book on these topics has.

You are given a crash course in the history of human observation about the universe. Once that is complete you are then given a more thorough but just as expansive look at all the various theories stemming from this accumulation of knowledge. I found this to be the book which best struck the balance between accessible and also willing to go deep into complex theories. Most physics books, in my opinion, are either too 'wow stuff is wonderful but far too complex for you so here is a baseball analogy!' or on the other hand just lists of charts and numbers totally alienating to somehow without a hard science background. This dipped into neither of those extremes and was written well enough to also be engaging.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
wonderful science book 1 Jun. 2010
By dr - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the 3rd book that I have read by this author, Carlos Calle, and they are all wonderful science books. Einstein for Dummies is probably the most accessible and easiest book for the non-professional scientist.
Calle is an accomplished scientist, teacher, and writer, and this book is extraordinarily interesting, informative, and educational for people of all ages. It is not easy to understand everything in the book because modern physics is not that intuitive in many cases, but the author does a fine job of explaining a tough subject.
It is a significant science book that gives us many things to think about the origin of the universe and of life on earth, and it also provides me with many insights and understandings that I did not know before about fundamental Physical concepts. I have a background in Physics and have read many other books in the area.
Re the comments that the author does not prove his point, I don't know whether there will ever be a science book that will persuade every single reader to expand his or her theological views. Think of the resistance that Galileo encountered 500 years ago, when he wrote the then religious heresy that the earth is not the center of the universe.
In actual fact Calle makes his points re the improbability of life on earth and the absence of evidence of a designer and a design, extremely effectively. We should all be open to new ideas.
Food for thought.
Congratulations Dr. Calle on another excellent science book for the general reader!!
I highly recommend this book for people who have a serious interest in science.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Decent description of inflation and string theory overview 17 Aug. 2009
By Mark K McKinney - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Although this book doesn't really address order without design as alluded to by the sub-title, it has some pretty good content. I especially liked that it included an explanation of inflation, something you don't find in non-technical books. I am somewhat ambivalent regarding some of the current untested theories that were described, but at least that part of the book was fairly brief. It seems there's a new theory born every minute these days and I prefer to stick with the facts. But if you're looking for a condensed overview of the latest theories of string theory, this is a good source. So its not so bad to get an overview reading this versus something like a Brian Greene book. But since I prefer more fact based reading, I would recommend instead that you read Calibrating the Cosmos.
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