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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Presentation flawed; content brilliant? or just deluded?, 18 Jun 2007
This review is from: Principia Logica (Paperback)
This book makes some grandiose claims for itself on its back cover:

"The sheer scope of this monumental work makes its achievement difficult to summarize. In essence though utilizing arguments only from modern physics and its underlying logic Principia Logica demonstrates how the very existence and also the particular form of our universe can be accounted for out of absolutely nothing. Along the way it also reveals several key discoveries such as the curved nature of time, entropy conservation, the hyperspheric form of the universe and numerous other things. Also showcased is a comprehensive programme for the revival of Logicism and Logical Empiricism as an overarching context for our knowledge. Finally, (in an explosive appendix) the work also includes a formal proof of the indeterminacy of prime number distribution (and an associated informal proof of the P versus NP problem) and also a formal expression of the Riemann Hypothesis as a statement about entropy. All in all Principia Logica represents probably the single greatest intellectual achievement of our generation."

However, be aware that it appears so far to have passed the academic world by. The intellectual analogue of huge seismic events in the worlds of mathematics, fundamental physics, philosophy (ontology, epistomology) and the interface between these disciplines (empiricism and the rest) are noticeable only by their absence. Misra's claims regarding cutting-edge subjects ranging from the Riemann Hypothesis and the origin of the universe should have made headlines even in the world's medium-brow press, and made Misra a fortune into the bargain; but nobody's paying attention. Appalling oversight, or just forbearance in the face of the self-deluded? you decide.

Be aware also that this book is published by Lulu.com; that is, it is self-published by the author. This works simply (go there and look); you upload your (perhaps PDF) file and pay a fee. So the work has not been subjected to professional editing or publishing scrutiny; and, whatever Misra is, he is not at a professional level of competence as a writer or editor. The book is presented in the form of 80 chapters plus an Appendix. There is no title page, save the outer front cover. There is a table of contents (with no title) that lists the chapters, giving each a page number; but the pages have no page numbers on them. Luckily, almost every chapter is only one or two pages long, so that individual chapter headings are easy to find: at least one is visible wherever you open the book at random (almost: for example, Chapter 53 "Neo-Logicism" has an exception).

So much for the housekeeping details of book presentation. On another redactorial function, the punctuation is often very poor. To give just one instance, all too many sentences hurtle from start to finish without a comma in ways that (I would have thought) even the most sparing of comma-users would wish to amend by giving the reader somewhere to pause, whether for breath or to sketch the intended structure by marking off a leading subordinate clause.

Other editing flaws include typographial errors. On the single page that is Chapter 2 "The Quantum Origin", there are numerous errors in presenting units both typographical and in inconsistency of style. We see "c.m." on one line and "cm" on another (typographical); but since the quantities are large negative powers of 10 one would rather expect the unit to be metres (scientific paper style). In the same page we see 10 (ten) raised to the power "32k" -- what in HTML would be rendered as 10<sup>32k</sup> -- the k meaning degrees Kelvin. Having studied mathematics and physics at university myself, I am not sure that it is possible to raise an integer to a power which is a temperature. Still on the same page, we have 10(to the power 93) g/cm and then 10(to the power -5)kilos -- and many more numbers and dimensions showing scant regard for consistency of presentation of numerical information with related scientific units and dimensions, or for suitable and correct typography.

What of the content? Let us suppose that perhaps the mathematicians and physicists really have missed out, and unjustly neglected this book in the two years since it first appeared. While not claiming to be qualified like a combination of Professors Roger Penrose or Stephen Hawking with Karl Popper and Edmund Husserl, I think I can see times when -- were he presenting any of these chapters as a paper at a conference -- even this author would be waving his hands a little desperately as he speaks. The almost staggering breadth of topics addressed, and the breadth of reading behind this, is undeniable; but does the daring to tackle so many fundamental topics indicate (1) extra ordinary genius, and/or great intellectual courage, or (2) self-delusion and foolhardiness, or (3) just a taste for a very elaborate intellectual spoof, perhaps as part of some very unusual (and large) private bet?

I have not yet decided. IPH
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