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Smolin L. The Life of the Cosmos

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Smolin L. The Life of the Cosmos
Oxford University Press, 1997. - 358 pp.
Cosmologist Lee Smolin offers a startling new theory of the universe that is at once elegant, comprehensive, and radically different from anything proposed before. In The Life of the Cosmos, Smolin cuts the Gordian knot of cosmology with a simple, powerful idea: "The underlying structure of our world, " he writes, "is to be found in the logic of evolution." Today's physicists have overturned Newton's view of the universe, yet they continue to cling to an understanding of reality not unlike Newton's own - as a clock, an intricate mechanism, governed by laws which are mathematical and eternally true. Smolin argues that the laws of nature we observe may be in part the result of a process of natural selection which took place before the big bang. Smolin's ideas are based on recent developments in cosmology, quantum theory, relativity and string theory, yet they offer, at the same time, an unprecedented view of how these developments may fit together to form a new theory of cosmology. From this perspective, the lines between the simple and the complex, the fundamental and the emergent, and even between the biological and the physical are redrawn. The result is a framework that illuminates many intractable problems, from the paradoxes of quantum theory and the nature of space and time to the problem of constructing a final theory of physics. As he argues for this new view, Smolin introduces the reader to recent developments in a wide range of fields, from string theory and quantum gravity to evolutionary theory the structure of galaxies. He examines the philosophical roots of controversies in the foundations of physics, and shows how they may be transformed as science moves toward understanding the universe as an interrelated, self-constructed entity, within which life and complexity have a natural place, and in which "the occurrence of novelty, indeed the perpetual birth of novelty, can be understood."
Contents
Prologue/Revolutions
Introduction
Light and Life
The Logic of Atomism
The Miracle of the Stars
The Dream of Unification
The Lessons of String Theory
Are the Laws of Physics Universal?
Did the Universe Evolve?
Detective Work
The Ecology of the Galaxy
Games and Galaxies
What is Life?
The Cosmology of an Interesting Universe
The Flower and the Dodecahedron
Philosophy, Religion, and Cosmology
Beyond the Anthropic Principle
Space and Time in the New Cosmology
The Road from Newton to Einstein
The Meaning of Einstein's Theory of Relativity
The Meaning of the Quantum
Cosmology and the Quantum
A Pluralistic Universe
The World as a Network of Relations
The Evolution of Time
Epilogue/Evolutions
Appendix - Testing Cosmological Natural Selection
Notes and Acknowledgments
Selected Bibliography
Glossary
Index
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