20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
From Quantum to Cosmos, 30 May 2013
As you loll by the pool this summer, while your wife or husband reads whatever has superseded 50 Shades of Gray, and your teenage daughter blisses out to Alice In Chains on her ear phones, you might wonder where it all went wrong. Wasn't there meant to be more to life than this infinity of sun loungers and face lifts stretching to the horizon?
At moments like these, when the neurons crave intellectual roughage, may I suggest you try Neil Turok's little book? It brings exciting news from the frontiers of cosmology and quantum physics and finds something uplifting to say about the destiny of mankind.
I read a great many non fiction books but finish few of them. Once I opened From Quantum To Cosmos I couldn't put it down until the last page. Turok, is one of the world's leading physicists and is currently director of the Perimeter Institute, a renowned research institute.
He was raised in South Africa, where his parents were ANC activists. Eventually, the family had to flee and finally ended up in the UK, where Turok worked with Stephen Hawking in Cambridge. The charm of this book is that it has a narrative arc, which describes Turok's personal and intellectual journey. From this arc he then skillfully hangs, in crystalline prose, some illuminating vignettes on quantum physics. He also provides a tour d' hoizon of cosmology and the development of quantum computing, which as we saw last week, is the next big thing.
Late last year the renowned American philosopher Thomas Nagel, published Mind and Cosmos, a controversial work that, besides taking some pot shots at Darwin's theory of evolution, suggested that the universe was teleological and that it has an aim, an end goal. Nagel is an atheist but he speculated that one of the explanations for the existence of human life was that consciousness might be embedded in the fabric of the universe.
Turok does not have the same axe to grind regarding evolution, although he does take an informed side swipe at Dawkin's analogy of the Selfish Gene. Yet, like Nagel's this book gains much of its drive, which at times is lyrical, from Turok's belief that the role of man might be to find that conscious element that motivates the universe. He sees quantum mechanics as the key. As he says, man is an analogue creature in a digital world but with a quantum future. His work is reminiscent of David Bohm's, another great physicist who was groping towards a theory, based on physics, that might explain universal consciousness. Highly recommended. Then again, there's always Glastonbury or yet another beach party.