Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hmmmm...... How Interesting!

The Life of the CosmosThe Life of the Cosmos by Lee Smolin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book, Lee Smolin proposes that universes can be naturally selected for based on their production of black holes. He calls it "Cosmological Natural Selection." It's an interesting idea and Smolin is careful to point out that it is more speculation than established science, although his theory is testable and he proposes tests for the theory. Smolin is good at acknowledging criticism of the theory and does his best to defend it. Once I got the hang of the idea, I was ready to be done with the book as Smolin repeatedly beats dead horses and reiterates his points. I don't blame him. He has to be careful, but it doesn't make for easy reading. My favorite part of the book was the appendices where he gives background information on physics necessary for understanding the ideas presented. While mathematical ideas are discussed, there is not a shred of mathematical formalism in the book, although Smolin points carefully to excellent sources if the reader wants such material. That said, this is not a book for the average layperson who is mildly curious about cosmology. There are more appropriate survey books on the subject written by well known authors. My compliments to Smolin for clearly distinguishing what is science and what is speculation in this lengthy discussion. My impression is that he truly cares about his audience's understanding. I recommend this book if you are a serious fan of physics.

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