The Future of Everything

April 7, 2015

An Imperfect Truth

Filed under: Physics, Reviews — Tags: — David @ 9:06 pm

Review of The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, by  Roberto Unger and Lee Smolin

When the Perimeter Institute—a physics research institute in Waterloo, Ontario—decided several years ago to build an extension, they asked the architects “to provide the optimal environment for the human mind to conceive of the universe.” Clearly the results were effective. One of the founding faculty members, Lee Smolin, and the Harvard philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger have conceived of the universe, and have come to a number of conclusions about it, including that a) there is only one of it, and b) time is real, so all things change, mutate and get old.

To non-scientists, these main points, summed up in the book’s title, might seem unremarkable. We only have experience of one universe, so would it not be presumptuous to assert that there are more? Time is clearly real enough (just ask an editor). And Heraclitus pointed out a long time ago that “everything flows.” So how can the authors assert that the admittance of mutability “is astonishing in the reach of its implications”?

The reason for this lofty claim is that, when time is taken seriously, we need to relax the commonly held assumption that the universe is governed by strict mathematical rules based on immutable symmetries. This mathematical version of reality—the product of generations of scientists—is only “a proxy for our world, a counterfeit version of it, a simulacrum.”

Read the rest of the article at the Literary Review of Canada.

April 10, 2013

Truth or Beauty shortlisted for book award

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David @ 2:09 pm

Truth or Beauty has been shortlisted for the Canadian Science Writers’ Association book award! Other finalists are Bébé Illimités by Dominique Forget, Devils Curve by Arno Kopecky, Fatal Flaws, by Jay Ingram, and Seeking Sickness by Alan Cassels.


March 22, 2013

Truth or Beauty in The Globe and Mail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David @ 3:10 pm

“Inside the elegant universe, perhaps, is something messy, struggling to make itself understood.” Robert Everett-Green on Truth or Beauty in The Globe and Mail.

March 13, 2013

V&A reviews Truth or Beauty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David @ 12:07 am

“The aesthetic principles scientists are devoted to would see them banished to the naughty step at a self-respecting art school.” From a review of Truth or Beauty by Benjamin Eastham in V&A Magazine.

February 2, 2013

Truth vs Beauty smackdown!

Filed under: Physics — Tags: — David @ 9:31 pm

Or, a Chronicle of Higher Education article by Christopher Shea on Truth or Beauty, with contributions from physicist Marcelo Gleiser, Nobel Prize-winner Steven Weinberg, and others.

January 21, 2013

Truth or Beauty review in Sunday Times

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David @ 4:58 pm

Nice review of Truth or Beauty in The Sunday Times. “For centuries, scientists have believed the universe to be rational and ordered, and that the laws governing it must therefore be straightforward. In this fascinating book, the mathematician David Orrell argues that this wish to find cosmic order has been motivated as much by an aesthetic impulse as by a quest for truth.” Read more here.

Blog at