Reviews from 05/2015

Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 28 May 2015

Nobel Prize winner Werner Heisenberg's classic account explains the central ideas of the quantum revolution, and his celebrated Uncertainty Principle. The theme of Heisenberg's exposition is that words and concepts familiar in daily life can lose their meaning in the world of relativity and quantum physics. This in turn has profound philosophical implications for the nature of reality and for our total world view.

Heisenberg cites the famous trial of Galileo and his views on the Copernican system as marking the beginning of a struggle that went for more than a century.  In this…Read

Wholeness and the Implicate Order

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 28 May 2015

In his classic work, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, David Bohm develops a theory of quantum physics which treats the totality of existence, including matter and consciousness, as an unbroken whole.

The notion that reality is to be understood as a process is an ancient one, going back at least to Heraclitus, (535 – 475 BCE) who said that everything flows.  

"I regard the essence of the notion of process as given by the statement: not only is everything changing, but all is flux.  That is to say, what is, is the process…Read

Erwin-Schrodinger-and-the-Quantum-Revolution

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 20 May 2015

This book tells the story of Schrödinger's colorful life during one of the most fertile and creative moments in the history of science, 1887 - 1961.

John Gribbin the author, is an accomplished and prolific writer of science-oriented books for the general public, and is therefore the ideal biographer for Schrodinger's life. Mr. Gribbin writes about Schrödinger's public, private and intellectual lives and also includes details about a short book of 1944, provocatively titled "What Is Life?" In this chapter Schrodinger introduces the idea…Read

A Separation

reviewed by Rob Mason on 15 May 2015

A Separation focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

The film really has two main sections; the first is that the two principal characters are deciding on a separation. This sets the stage for the second part which is where another family becomes involved because of an accident that happens. This then leads to the involvement of a local magistrate to decide who is right and who is wrong.

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The Nature of Life

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 7 May 2015

The nature of life: classical and contemporary perspectives from philosophy and science

Mark A Bedau and Carol E Cleland (eds) 

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 2010 |440pp ISBN 9780521517751

1. Facts and puzzles about the phenomena of life.

Life is amazing. It is all around us in a diversity of forms, ranging from microscopic bacteria to ancient towering trees, from almost inert lichen to transient insect blooms, from birds flocking in the sky to thriving colonies of tube worms at inky deep-sea vents. The first forms of life on earth spontaneously arose out…Read

What is Life - Mind and Matter

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 2 May 2015

Life is built on Chemistry - Vital Processes of Life are Chemical Reactions: Antoine Lavoisier

One point that Schrödinger makes in What is Life? is about the absence of the human personality: "It is difficult for us to take stock of the fact that the localization of the personality, of the conscious mind, inside the body is only symbolic, just an aid for practical use. Let us, with all the knowledge we have about it, follow such a 'tender look' inside the body.  We do hit there on a supremely…Read