A Fortunate Universe
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A Fortunate Universe : Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos

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Description

Over the last forty years, scientists have uncovered evidence that if the Universe had been forged with even slightly different properties, life as we know it - and life as we can imagine it - would be impossible. Join us on a journey through how we understand the Universe, from its most basic particles and forces, to planets, stars and galaxies, and back through cosmic history to the birth of the cosmos. Conflicting notions about our place in the Universe are defined, defended and critiqued from scientific, philosophical and religious viewpoints. The authors' engaging and witty style addresses what fine-tuning might mean for the future of physics and the search for the ultimate laws of nature. Tackling difficult questions and providing thought-provoking answers, this volumes challenges us to consider our place in the cosmos, regardless of our initial convictions.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 388 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 27mm | 690g
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 49 b/w illus.
  • 1107156610
  • 9781107156616
  • 41,624

Review quote

'My colleagues, Geraint and Luke, in A Fortunate Universe, take you on a tour of the Cosmos in all of its glory, and all of its mystery. You will see that humanity appears to be part of a remarkable set of circumstances involving a special time around a special planet, which orbits a special star, all within a specially constructed Universe. It is these sets of conditions that have allowed humans to ponder our place in space and time. I have no idea why we are here, but I do know the Universe is beautiful. A Fortunate Universe captures the mysterious beauty of the Cosmos in a way that all can share.' Brian Schmidt, Australian National University, Canberra, and Nobel Laureate in Physics (2011), from the Foreword 'Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes provide a breathtaking tour of contemporary physics from the subatomic to the cosmological scale. Everywhere they find the Universe to be fine-tuned for complex structure. If the quark masses, or the basic forces, or the cosmological constant had been much different, the Universe would have been a sterile wasteland. It seems that the only reactions are either to embrace a multiverse or a designer. The authors have constructed a powerful case for the specialness of our Universe.' Tim Maudlin, New York University 'The Universe could have been of such a nature that no life at all could exist. The anthropic question asks why the constants of nature that enter various physical laws are such as to permit life to come into being. This engaging book is a well-written and detailed explanation of all the many ways these physical constants affect the possibility of life, considering atomic, nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. It then discusses in an open-minded way the variety of explanations one might give for this strange fine-tuning, possible solutions ranging from pure chance, existence of multiverses, or theistic explanations. The book is the most comprehensive current discussion of this intriguing range of issues. Highly recommended.' George Ellis, University of Cape Town 'Lewis and Barnes' book is the most up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive explication of the evidence that the Universe is fine-tuned for life. It is also among the two most philosophically sophisticated treatments, all the while being accessible to a non-academic audience. I strongly recommend this book.' Robin Collins, Messiah College, Pennsylvania '... charming, intelligent and exceedingly well-written ... a gentle stroll through the details of the Standard Model of particle physics, as well as the Standard Model of cosmology, but [the authors] lead us with such a light hand, a streak of humour and a lack of pedantry that the information is easily absorbed ... Lewis and Barnes show us how small changes lead to a variety of disasters. ('Ruining a universe is easy' Mr. Barnes quips) ... Is [our universe] a happy coincidence, as the authors ask each other in an amusing mock debate modeled on one Galileo wrote 400 years earlier, or is there some deeper reason? Where does science go from here? Does what has been popularly called a theory of everything exist? Is there a multiverse? Must we be satisfied with an anthropic principle? The authors discuss these questions and more in a final dialogue.' Gino Segre, The Wall Street Journal 'A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos by Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes, is a nice up to date book for the general (educated) public on modern physics and cosmology. If covers modern cosmology and some of the Big Questions of our times, in particular the issue of anthropomorphism how 'fine tuned' our Universe is.' Steinn Sigurdsson, ScienceBlogs (www.scienceblogs.com) '... what is truly unique about this book is that it presents the data at a popular level so that the material is accessible to anyone interested in this topic ... As I read the book, I was awestruck by the finely-tuned constants and conditions that had to be just right to get a universe that would permit life ... This evidence should move each one of us to ask, what is the best explanation of this incredible fine-tuning?' Tim Barnett, Stand to Reason (www.str.org) 'This is a distinguished and substantial contribution not only to monastic and religious history, but to the social history of England, in an age when the clergy were as important a part of society as the laity.' Nicholas Orme, Church Times 'Reading this book is a great, not only intellectual, but also entertaining pleasure, the subject is difficult ... But the authors succeed in writing an inimitable way to write these questions with a light pen, as if they were opposed to them, and would be introduced, as it were, to the scientific questions about our world and our existence. It would be so easy to get into a mystifying murmur of this subject, into a quite sterile congestion ... The authors pursue a completely different task: they place scientific knowledge on the argumentative table, they do not lose themselves in the mysterious. Instead, they describe what is and what could be. They give their audience well-founded, solid scientific arguments, chat with him, and then leave his own thoughts. A highly readable, enriching, knowledgeable book ...' Matthias Bartelmann, translated from Sterne und Weltraumshow more

About Geraint F. Lewis

Geraint F. Lewis is a Professor of Astrophysics at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney. He undertook his undergraduate education at the University of London before gaining a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge. Professor Lewis is an internationally recognised astrophysicist, and has published more than two hundred papers in a diverse range of fields, including gravitational lensing, galactic cannibalism, cosmology and large-scale structure. As well as being an accomplished lecturer, he regularly engages in public outreach through public speaking, articles in the popular press, and social media. Luke A. Barnes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney. His university medal from the University of Sydney helped him earn a scholarship to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He has published papers in the field of galaxy formation and on the fine-tuning of the Universe for life. He has been invited to speak at the 2011 and 2015 St Thomas Summer Seminars in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, the University of California Summer School for the Philosophy of Cosmology, and numerous public lectures.show more

Table of contents

Foreword Brian Schmidt; Preface; 1. A conversation on fine-tuning; 2. I'm only human!; 3. Can you feel the force?; 4. Energy and entropy; 5. The Universe is expanding; 6. All bets are off!; 7. A dozen (or so) reactions to fine-tuning; 8. A conversation continued; Further reading; References; Index.show more

Rating details

35 ratings
4.34 out of 5 stars
5 46% (16)
4 43% (15)
3 11% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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