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Sintesi dell'editore

From the acclaimed author of Einstein's Dreams and Mr. g comes a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion, the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature, the possibility that our universe is simply an accident, the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world, and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion - at once haunting and exhilarating - that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

©2014 Alan Lightman (P)2014 Blackstone Audio

Cosa pensano gli ascoltatori di The Accidental Universe

Valutazione media degli utenti
Generale
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Lettura
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Storia
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 16/02/2015

Spiritual Atheist Laments

This is a set of related essays ruminating on humanities relation to modern science and is more rambling lyrical personal reflections than explanatory science. The essays are: The Accidental Universe; The Temporary Universe; The Spiritual Universe; The Symmetrical Universe; The Gargantuan Universe; The Lawful Universe; The Disembodied Universe.

The narration is excellent, slow paced, emotional, and poetic.

The author declares he is an atheist, but seems to believe that God, transcendent personal experience, and what created our universe are all beyond the realm of scientific analysis. I agree that such things may currently beyond complete scientific analysis, but they are not beyond scientific analysis in principle. If God, or transcendental personal experiences have any practical effects, these effects can, eventually, be tested. History is full of the phenomena that were once fervently believed beyond the realm of thoughtful enquiry (the motion of planets, weather, disease, heredity, plant growth, hallucinogenic substances, and many others). These have all, one by one, succumbed to various levels of scientific analysis. There are only a very few phenomena left that some believe are still beyond the realm of science. Many, including Lightman, have a deeply emotional desire (without fully understanding why) that some part of human experience will remain forever beyond the realm of science. Lightman seems excited that the rest of the universe follows scientific laws, yet revolts against the idea these same laws control his own essence. He is saddened by the temporality of life and seems to view the connectivity allowed by cell phone technology as disembodiment. At some level I fully understand such attitudes, but nevertheless I find them mildly quaint. Reading Lightman’s last chapter lamenting the disembodiment caused by texting I pondered if some old foggy at the dawn of humanity lamented how spoken language disembodied people from real pre-linguistic communication.

I did not dislike this book, but did not get a lot out of it. I love art and literature and music and myth and my life, but I don’t feel any need to separate these things into a spiritual realm beyond scientific analysis. There is some discussion of science in the book, but it is just a bit sloppy (like convolving quantum superposition with multi-position). When I finished this book I recalled how the end of A Brief History of Time resonated more with me than anything in The Accidental Universe; “if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God."

11 people found this helpful

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matt Wall
  • 01/10/2016

Hard Science meets Philosophical Questions

If you enjoy hard science as well as deeper philosophical questions that science cannot answer (yet), you will love this book...

The narration is a bit slow, so I listened on 1.35x which was perfect.

Will definitely listen again soon.

2 people found this helpful

  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • wbiro
  • 10/03/2021

Some Science, Some Lip Service

The lip service is to religion (an entire essay and then some), back when scientists had to score points and stay in good standing with their religious acquaintances. Weak philosophy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Justin
  • 10/08/2015

Disappointing as a science or philosophy book

I bought this book expecting something more along the lines of Laurence Krauss' "A Universe From Nothing" with a little extra comparison to mythologies. That's not what this book is. Perhaps I should have recognized that fact from the short runtime.

This is a short collection of expositional essays about the author's views on the relation science has to the humanities and the silly beliefs we often hold in our heads. It makes almost no attempt to be a science book; Lightman makes mention of some of the amazing discoveries of physics, but does not try to explain them, which is what I was after. I think the intent was for this to be a philosophy book, but it falls short there too. I expect a philosopher to describe the logical reasoning that led him to his conclusion. This author, however, does not do so. And the final chapter/essay makes no attempt to be anything but a rant, lamenting the way life has changed with the adoption of new technologies. I may agree with a number of Lightman's thoughts, but I can get rants from friends and family for free. I expect more thoughtful reasoning from a philosophy book, and a more objective analysis from a respected scientist.

Forgive the condescension, but I think I'd describe this as a collection of polite rants, masquerading as philosophy, couched between spats of scientific wonderment. It's not the worst book ever, but it has very little actual content.

1 person found this helpful

  • Generale
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan & Roxanne Buzzard
  • 19/03/2021

A man trying to disprove God's existence

Reading the summary of this book one might think it is actually about the universe and science to expand minds about things unknown...this authors primary goal, however, is to disprove God's existence. Not what i signed up when when I began reading it...

  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Blahblahblah
  • 21/02/2021

Quantum Woo For Dummies

Overly precious. Pretentious pseudoscience, the writer of which concerns himself primarily with ennumerating the trappings of wealth & privilege which pervade his life. This book is not intended to make science accessible to the reader, merely to remind the reader that science is the purview of the wealthy elite. Shameful snobbery masquerading as academia. A waste of Pynchot's lovely vocal instrument.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas James Wright
  • 02/01/2021

As spiritual as science gets

ok, maybe spiritual was the wrong word to use, maybe ... well ... I dunno. maybe spiritual was the right word. In any case, it hit home. As a scientist myself, I've found my head in many similar states of wonder and confusion.
I really enjoyed it.

  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • 18/10/2020

Strains to make nice about religion.

This proves the adage that you have to be really really smart to be this wrong about something. Although a good scientist and rightfully respected, he uses that intelligence unfortunately to compartmentalize in his mind an a priori assumption of this thing called God that we should all assume is a subject worthy or necessary for human flourishing isolating this thinking from his other rigorous gambit of scientific rationalism. Of course he is brilliantly wrong. He misinterprets Dawkins and and though and atheist himself, panders to the mysterious unknown or unknowable questions as though there is first a basis for assuming that they could be “from a conceptual god. Again spectacularly wrong. Of course not wrong, but wrong in assuming that there is any basis to even BEGIN being right or wrong on that subject. Just because Homosapien is able to conjecture about it God doesn’t mean that in this day and age we must take that seriously. As Dunkin says, just because you can think of a mental construct and give it an English word, does not mean that it is worth taking as a discussion as to his veracity. Religion does far too much damage in the world and in peoples lives to waste more time and Ink supporting it.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • dtpx
  • 26/06/2020

Great book for the right ready prople

If you are there, you know what Alan is talking about. The world is not what we see, not what we think.

  • Generale
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom Higgins
  • 30/09/2017

Very disappointing. Mumbo jumbo pink fairy rubbish disingenuously concealed in a brown paper wrapping of proper science.

The most irritating aspect is that the wrapping is so convincing that you’ve wasted an hour of your time before you realise you’ve been duped. Grrrr!

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  • Generale
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  • Scott Seivwright
  • 04/05/2015

Science in Context

I enjoyed the wisdom and insites of the book... which lays out the nature of things and the direction of things..