16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Without limits there would be no science,
This review is from: Impossibility: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits (Paperback)
Who would have guessed that it could be so hard to work out what is and isn't possible? And how astonishing that some people imagine that nothing is impossible and will rail against the notion or sink into depression at the realisation that not everything is knowable. John Barrow prods at all sorts of limits in this book, in order to show us where they are and how to recognise them. He discusses the limits imposed by size (the itsy-bitsy to the astronomical), time and space (they might be two separate things after all, apparently), speed, complexity, our assumptions about the 'constants' of nature, linguistic and mathematical paradoxes, technological limits and the limits of the human mind. He considers what the universe might be like beyond what is visible to astronomers today: is it just more of the same or might it be an eternal, self-reproducing inflationary universe where the laws of nature differ from one area to another, for example? Is time travel possible? What other sorts of extraterrestrial intelligences could exist? There are limits in every direction and area of study. Without them, science would not be possible.
I'm pleased to be able to report that this book is not impossible to understand. It's well written, entertaining and enlightening. There are lots of pithy quotes including a few from some of my favourite authors (eg Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett). I thoroughly enjoyed it and feel a little less dim than I did before I started the book.