Top positive review
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Your perseverance will be well rewarded!
on 4 January 2000
The title, density of equations and sheer size of this book will either intrigue you or scare you to death. It intrigued me - and once read - left me with a great sense of wonder at this universe we live in. If you are not an extremely well read physicist you will have to persevere with some of the dense well argued detail and take most of the equations at face value but you will be well rewarded.
This book is as free from bias as I think a book on this topic can be, and is certainly free from the card-carrying philosophical baggage with which may other works in this area are fraught. Opening with a careful definition of the various forms of the cosmological principles the first few chapters take a broad sweep through the history of philosophical thought. It charts the origins of the various streams of thought concerning what we are all doing here - and why. The rest of the book them systematically links these with current scientific thinking very effectively. This introduction is well worth reading in its own right if the subsequent equations are going to scare you!
Approaching the problem from multiple angles - chemistry, biology, stellar evolution, and dimensionality, to name but a few, the journey begins. Taking a belief in the theory of evolution as a pre-requisite, it explains just how remarkable our existence really is. A central theme of the book is the anthropic significance of the continuing uncertainty as to whether the universe will expand forever or collapse back into itself. From every angle the key characteristics that our universe requires to support intelligent life are examined paying particular attention to the tolerance to certain variables that intelligent life can display, highlighting the implied cosmological consequences. Resisting the temptation to steer the reader to one viewpoint or another the book tirelessly explores how this marvel of intelligent life could occur.
The climax of the book is a discussion of the possibility that other intelligent life exists, or will exist at some time, in our universe - and explores the logical consequences of this for closed and open universes. It is here that the authors appear to have an opinion, but it is still well argued and credible.
To the atheist and believer alike this book will force you to consider the wonder of our universe and wonder at the fact of our existence. Persevere and you will be well rewarded!