The Nature of Space and Time (Princeton Science Library) Paperback – 28 Feb 2010
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Who doesn't love a good argument? When physics heavyweights Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose delivered three sets of back-and-forth lectures capped by a final debate at Cambridge's Isaac Newton Institute, the course of modern cosmological thinking was at stake. As it happens, The Nature of Space and Time, which collects these remarks, suggests that little has changed from the days when Einstein challenged Bohr by refusing to believe that God plays dice. The maths is more abstruse, the arguments more refined, but the argument still hinges on whether our physical theories should be expected to model reality or merely predict measurements.
Hawking, clever and playful as usual, sides with Bohr and the Copenhagen interpretation, and builds a strong case for quantum gravity. Penrose, inevitably a bit dry in comparison, shares Einstein's horror at such intuition-blasting thought experiments as Schrödinger's long-suffering cat--and scores just as many points for general relativity. The maths is tough going for lay readers, but a few leaps of faith will carry them through to some deeply thought-provoking rhetoric. Though no questions find final answers in The Nature of Space and Time, the quality of discourse should be enough to satisfy the scientifically curious. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This elegant little volume provides a clear account of two approaches to some of the greatest unsolved problems of gravitation and cosmology."--John Barrow, New Scientist
"A debate between Hawking and Penrose . . . raises the reader's expectations of a lively interaction, and this is fully bourne in the transcribed discussion. . . . Hawking's effervescent sense of humour frequently enlivens the text."--Joseph Silk, Times Higher Education
Praise for Princeton's previous editions:: "If there were such a thing as the World Professional Heavyweight Theory Debating Society, this would be the title bout."--Christopher Dornan, Toronto Globe & Mail
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "This is a very courteous and intellectually stimulating exchange between two first-rate minds."--Library Journal
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "This is an interesting book to read now, but it promises to become an even more interesting book for future generations of physicists."--Robert M. Wald, Science
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "As well as providing an accurate scientific record of the lectures, the text has lost none of the drama of the original occasion, which stemmed from the almost antithetical views of the two protagonists on almost everything except the classical theory of general relativity."--Gary Gibbons, Physics World
Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "I found great satisfaction and not inconsiderable benefit from my efforts. . . . The clarity and brilliance of Hawking's logic would break through in simple straightforward terms. . . . This provided a real thrill."--Lucy Horwitz, Boston Book Review
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on 9 December 1999
Any popular science book MUST be accurate and not hide serious scientific controversies; if this rule is not followed the book-buying public is being misled. Apart from the elementary, undergraduate level errors in thermodynamics,(e.g. the first law of thermodynamics on page 24 is NOT the first law, nor is it a combination of the first and second laws due to a sign error; the Helmholtz free energy on page 50 is NOT the Helmholtz free energy again due to a sign error),the statement on page 135 that all Einstein needed not to go fishing after 1925 was 'Stephen's discovery, fifty-five years later, of black hole radiation', might be felt by some offensive! Hawking's great surprise, on page 43, that black hole radiation emission was exactly thermal with a temperature derived from the Bekenstein-Hawking expression for black hole entropy in terms of the area of the horizon is dubious because it has to correspond to the entropy of black body radiation, which it doesn't. It should be noted also that, as has been pointed out on several occasions, the above-mentioned Bekenstein-Hawking entropy expression is itself dubious because it leads to possible violations of the second law of thermodynamics. The above are merely examples which certainly raise grave doubts concerning the worth of this book as a serious contribution to popular scientific literature.
on 29 November 2000
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
...This book strives to answer "unanswerable" questions, and succeeds admirably. This is NOT a textbook, but fascinating fodder for the intelligent layman. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and would recommend it highly.
on 13 June 2008
The introduction to each of the chapters have some very interesting ideas. However, this book would be very difficult for even an intelligent layman who has not had a background in Physics. Therefore, not really for the general reader.
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