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The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe [Paperback]

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Item Number 257685  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   222
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2004
Publisher   Templeton Foundation Press
ISBN  1932031669  
EAN  9781932031669  


Availability  4 units.
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Item Description...
Overview
In this critically acclaimed book, first published in 1988 and now reprinted in paperback, scientist and author Paul Davies explains how recent scientific advances are transforming our understanding of the emergence of complexity and organization in the universe. Melding a variety of ideas and disciplines from biology, fundamental physics, computer science, mathematics, genetics, and neurology, Davies presents his provocative theory on the source of the universe's creative potency. He explores the new paradigm (replacing the centuries-old Newtonian view of the universe) that recognizes the collective and holistic properties of physical systems and the power of self-organization. He casts the laws in physics in the role of a "blueprint," embodying a grand cosmic scheme that progressively unfolds as the universe develops. Challenging the viewpoint that the physical universe is a meaningless collection of particles, he finds overwhelming evidence for an underlying purpose: "Science may explain all the processes whereby the universe evolves its own destiny, but that still leaves room for there to be a meaning behind existence."

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More About P. C. W. Davies

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Paul Davies is professor of natural philosophy in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University. His research has spanned the fields of cosmology, gravitation, and quantum field theory, with particular emphasis on black holes and the origin of the universe. He is currently working on the problem of the origin of life and the search for life on Mars. He is a well-known author, broadcaster, and public lecturer and has written over twenty-five books. Among his better-known works are God and the New Physics, The Mind of God, About Time, The Fifth Miracle, and How to Build a Time Machine. In recognition of his work as an author, he was elected as fellow of The Royal Society of Literature in 1999.

His contributions to science have been recognized by numerous awards, including the 2002 Michael Faraday Prize by the Royal Society and the 2001 Kelvin Medal and Prize from the U.K. Institute of Physics. In April 1999 the asteroid 1992 OG was officially named (6870) Pauldavies in his honor. His most significant award was the 1995 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the world s largest prize for intellectual endeavor.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Is there a cosmic blueprint?  Jul 15, 2006
This (2004 edition) is an updated re-publication of Davies' 1988 book. In the new preface, Davies (mathematical physicist, prolific writer, recipient of the Faraday Prize, the Kelvin Medal, and the Templeton Prize) suggests the possibility of something quite outlandish--that if humanity can somehow survive the full future of the universe, that upon the universe's thermodynamic and quantum demise, our descendants might scramble into a new universe of their own manufacture. The assertion brings several thoughts to mind, we might begin with, well, let's say, idea-heisting [I'll not say plagiar_sm, that would be a bit harsh]. (Frank Tipler famously envisioned this kind of scenario in a universe headed for a "big crunch." The big crunch has currently fallen out of favor with astronomers and theorists, and Davies' invented universe envisions the currently favored thermodynamic "big fade away" scenario.) It also might strike us as unrealistic or even arrogant; but, foolish or not, Davies' reason for such 'optimism' is unveiled in the following 200 pages.

What follows is a fast-paced and critical tour-de-force of the state of current and emerging scientific theories and prospects (promising and otherwise) for the future. There are many outstanding discussions, one centered on the mathematics of self-similar scaling -- the "Mandelbrot set" being a famous example. Davies believes that, in principle, science will one day explain, comprehensively, how the world works. Don't hold your breath, we're not exactly close to that day just yet. In some significant areas, notably the deepest theoretical understandings of biological and mind sciences, there seems to have been rather little progress at all. From popular treatments [like glossy spreads in National Geographic magazine, or Discovery Channel shows], one might be led to believe that great insights have been gained into how biological evolution proceeds and how life arises spontaneously from non-life. Davies surveys the competing claims and theories in these disciplines and exposes them as being starkly impotent to date. (There is a popular myth that only religious fundamentalists are skeptical of the neo-Darwinian story line -- but many of the most penetrating minds of modern theoretical science and mathematics, including Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, John von Neumann, and Kurt Godel, among others, have found the Darwinian story to be non-compelling at best, and on some points glaringly wrong. As Davies points out, a world in which 'natural selection' was The Great Generative Engine, supporting only reproductive advantages, many life forms that we observe, like elephants [low birth rate, long gestation period, etc], could not have been 'selected' into existence. It does no good to protest that elephants should not and could not reproduce like bunnies -- in a truly Darwinian world there simply should not be elephants [or humans: striving to discern whether the universe might be headed toward a 'big crunch' or a 'heat death' can offer no reproductive advantage for beings given to contemplating such things!]. One thinks of many Darwin-confuters in the plant kingdom. A world built by Darwinian mechanisms would be populated only by masters of mitosis, and perhaps sex-maniacs that mated like bunnies, although sex itself, a comparatively inefficient means of reproduction [obviously when compared to mitotic reproduction], is another intractable problem for the Darwinian story.) Davies, like many noted physicists, is well studied and articulate in theoretical biology, and finds the state of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to be mostly a patched-up, just-so story that is easy fodder for skepticism. He does, however, believe that Stuart Kaufmann's ideas concerning holistic approaches to understanding complexity may be more fruitful. However I give a wrong impression if I seem to suggest that the book is largely about biological evolution, it is not. This is but one of several illuminating discussions, most of which understandably center on mathematical physics.

Davies, an epistemological optimist at any rate, expects that theoretical biology and mind science will one day succumb to our advancing knowledge, and that we will know, exhaustively, how the world works. But to know how the world works is not to know why the world works. Even if science should attain a reductionistic "theory of everything" and a stunning cadre of holistic theories explaining all features of 'emergence' and 'complexity', the big Why question(s) will remain, and any answers will remain as matters of faith, not strict science. Science speaks to "how," but why should this be so? Why should there be an explainable world and why should it contain world-explainers? One can deny teleological inference and many materialists insist [religiously] on doing so, but the denial is one of personal choice, not actual science. The world IS 'up to something,' and this fact IS fundamentally written into the new physics. The mysterious profundity of "why" always remains. In the day that Davies foresees, when physical science has achieved its final triumph, it will not have dispensed with God and it will not have written purpose out of the world.

Well, that's the book in a nutshell, but there's much more to it. I've read something like ten of Davies' books; most of them being either 'good' or 'very good' (with one notable exception) and this volume fits either category, except, perhaps, for that wild assertion in the new preface.
 
Analytical, informative and creative...  Oct 11, 2005
Davies has the unique ability to integrate various scientific ideas into a cohesive whole. Rather than dodging questions, he addresses them directly. There is a resistance to many of his ideas partly because some scientists are fearful that creationists will use his arguments to denigrate contemporary science.

I hope Davies will continue to do what he does best-- analyze, synthesize and share his ideas.
 
The Cosmic Blueprint  May 28, 2003
In 1987, James Gleick released Chaos, which was regarded as a seminal work in the subject, but in the same year, a much less popularised book by Paul Davies - The Cosmic Blueprint was also released - a vastly wider-ranging and advanced introduction to the theory of Complexity, as chaos came to be known.

Davies' book clearly explains the fundamental concepts and ties them all in - emergence, nonlinearity, the second law, self-organization, stochastic structures, complex and dynamic systems, darwinism and creativity - in all their cosmological and terrestial implications, with excellent philosophy to back it.

This is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in contemporary science. It still stands as a classic explication of an emerging new scientific paradigm which is now in full swing, and which Davies called and contextualized years ahead of his time.

If you read one science book in your life, this should be it.

 
The Cosmic Blueprint  May 28, 2003
In 1987, James Gleick released Chaos, which was regarded as a seminal work in the subject, but in the same year, a much less popularised book by Paul Davies - The Cosmic Blueprint was also released - a vastly wider-ranging and advanced introduction to the theory of Complexity, as chaos came to be known.

Davies' book clearly explains the fundamental concepts and ties them all in - emergence, nonlinearity, the second law, self-organization, stochastic structures, complex and dynamic systems, darwinism and creativity - in all their cosmological and terrestial implications, with excellent philosophy to back it.

This is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in contemporary science. It still stands as a classic explication of an emerging new scientific paradigm which is now in full swing, and which Davies called and contextualized years ahead of his time.

If you read one science book in your life, this should be it.

 
IT CANNOT BE LEGO!  Jul 31, 2000
Besides being, like many others of Davies' books, a little masterpiece of scientific vulgarization, this is a deeply honest enterprise under a strict, intellectual standpoint. But one which, while clinging to a crystalline sense of science's autonomy, aims at promoting a persuasion: reductionism (something called by the less merciful critics "this ritual nothingbuttery") is no more viable as a means of convincing explanation for natural phenomena, especially for those of a higher, more complex order, like living systems, human beings and, on top of all, human conscience and intelligence, both as individual and social processes.

The book strikes a perfect balance - not in the sense of compromise at all costs but in that, more useful and enlightening, of creative dialectical synthesis - between a steady faith in the capacity of science to investigate and eventually unveiling natural truths and a sort of rational and humane optimism which makes one feel that our universe is a formidable work-in-progress with a built-in, but not mechanistic inclination at producing new principles and meaning.

Mystery and freedom (and that flavour of "philosophic poetry" associated with them!) are preserved in the frame of a non-deterministic worldview, because no precise and mandatory evolutionary path seems to have been established at the "beginning", which Davies assumes, like the majority of today's cosmologists, to have been the Big Bang, the "moment" at which all - space, time, matter and energy - broke into being. Rather a potentiality for progress which in the course of billions of years has reached and will reach numerous transition points, from where the universe can branch out into a wide choice of meaningful possibilities. The only "constraint" being represented by a sort of tacit, maternal invitation to follow the route to self-consciousness as if the universe was sketched in such a way as to eventually reach this fundamental stage. For this reason Davies appears to believe, but never in a fixed, dogmatic sense, that just something like a loose cosmic blueprint, whence the book's title, lies hidden at the very core of creation, secretly fostering the growth of that substance we call, with still a bit of approximation, Intelligence.

I think that, like any truly important book, this one was written to revisit old questions and pose new ones rather than to provide standard ready-made answers, because, Davies seems to imply, no definite and irreversible answer is written on the giant cosmic page before us. That's to say: open arguments, for open minds!

During his exposition Davies touches many of the issues on which the debate and the contrasts between reductionism and holism are more vivid and intellectually productive. And he affirms that a new turn towards holism is gaining momentum among the scientific communities the world over as the lego-like philosophy of reductionism shows all its conceptual inadequacy to provide convincing prospects for the advancement of our understanding of complexity and significance.

Such rich notions as Jung's principle of synchronicity and Elsasser's "biotonic laws" are discussed, as well as that nice and inevitable philosophical animal known under the name of Schroedinger's cat, which as every well-read scientific layman already knows implies a plunge into the spectral world of quantum-mechanics. These and many other ideas and hypotheses are presented in a fascinating review of the more suggestive attempts to forge new visions of the universe and its destiny.

As a final, if trivial, consideration I may say that after reading this kind of books you come back to your everyday routine problems with a refreshed notion of their limited importance and consequently with the conviction that you should not permit them to take away a too large amount of your intellectual and spiritual energies.

 

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