How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space by Janna Levin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thought this little primer on physics was perfectly delightful. I've never seen anyone explain physics in quite this way before, but it was absolutely charming. The biggest points (for me) were on the topology of the universe. Geometry trumps General Relativity. For, as we know, neither General Relativity or Quantum Physics can describe the actual shape of the universe. No predictive power at all.
But then, even Einstein said there would have to be yet another comprehensive paradigm shift.
I personally like to think that all science will always have to do successive paradigm shifts as if it, too, followed the Marxian axiom. It means there will never be an end to learning, and THAT is something gorgeous to behold. :)
ANYWAY, back to this book. Levin's prose takes the highly unusual tack of posing as letters to her mom, being awesomely personal and revealing while also illustrating just how much she loves the science she does. The mix, far from being awkward, turns the whole struggle and acquisition of knowledge into an end that we can all admire greatly. It also makes it REAL in a way I rarely see in these kinds of non-fiction books. Or perhaps it's not all that rare, because I do get a very awesome sense of the people for whom the science is everything, but in her case, I just feel love, sympathy, and shared joy.
This is not your standard boilerplate introductory pop-sci text. Rather, it is a personal and gorgeous love-note to the ideas that shine so bright, always asking more questions, demanding more sacrifices, and, in the end, revealing even more of the universe.
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