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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darwin and Leibniz may have lessons for physicists, 3 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Life of the Cosmos (Hardcover)
Although both physicists and philosophers may find it hard to agree with Lee Smolin's ideas, neither group could deny that his views are thought provoking. The book provides a refreshing insight into ideas about the structure of space-time and a possible explanation of why the physical constants have the values they have. If you have a taste for cosmological speculation but find daffy science popularisations with "god" in the title more irritating than illuminating, then this book is for you. Smolin writes with clarity and manages to engage the reader with the wonder at the heart of physics without the use of laboured attempts at poetry. A "real" physicist who can write is a rare treat. If you have enjoyed the work of David Deutsch or Julian Barbour, try this. If you haven't, try them next.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An extremely interesting book, a must for dreamers., 18 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Life Of The Cosmos (Paperback)
A well written book for anyone who is interested in the Physics of the universe, but doesn't nessesserily have an acute knowledge of Mathematics. Smolin ventures into dimentions and elementary particles with a highly detailed analysis of the smallest things in the universe but sometimes lacks a wide overview. A great book even for beginners. All you need to be interested in this book is some knowledge of Physics and an active imagination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Original and profound theory of cosmological Darwinism, 12 Jun 2011
By 
G. Imroth (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Life of the Cosmos (Paperback)
'The Life of the Cosmos' is an argument for a new way of looking at fundamental physics and cosmology. Its highlight is cosmological natural selection (CNS) but the underlying principle is 'relationalism', an idea derived from Leibniz (and basic to relativity theory), in which physical properties are relational rather than intrinsic. Space and time are principles relating physical things to each other, not absolute backgrounds within which physical things interact but do not themselves take part in interactions.

Lee Smolin argues that the universe is self-organised, a bit like an organism or an ecosystem (though nothing is gained by saying that the universe is actually 'alive'). The universe has evolved and possesses homoeostatic properties that keep many of its components in states far from thermal equilibrium. Another relational principle learnt from Leibniz is that a view of the whole universe as a far-from-equilibrium system does not imply a view-point from outside the universe.

CNS is a Darwinian solution to the 'special-tuning problem', which is the vast improbability that the universe should be set up precisely to suit life (as it seems to be). The answer is that a mechanism of natural selection can produce design without a designer or blueprint. In the case of cosmology, the key is the production of black holes. Assuming each universe is born as a black hole within another universe, then universes take part in a copying competition and the most typical universe (which we may assume ours to be) ought to belong to the lineage with the most fecund universes.

This prediction is testable: by changing any of the parameters of physics in our universe, one will produce a different universe with fewer black holes. It so happens that carbon chemistry (and, hence, carbon-based life-forms) is a natural by-product of maximising the number of black holes in a universe. Thus CNS is a rational alternative to the anthropic cosmological principle.

This is altogether a sensible and well-made argument and brilliantly original. Highly recommended.
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2 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars again it's one deduction too far, 13 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Life Of The Cosmos (Paperback)
It's a super book but it seems that the thought process goes to far. If we and the universe continuously evolve to explain the improbability of our being here and we avoid inventing god, we only invent an unprovable theory as a substitute.
However I need to know why these other universes on the other side of black hole compare with ours. There is only so much energy around so each must be pretty limited and since they drain this one, I'm surprised we are still here.
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The Life of the Cosmos
The Life of the Cosmos by Lee Smolin (Hardcover - 26 Jun 1997)
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