Consequences of the unresolvable. (Books: history of science)

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Author: John Gribbin
Date: May 17, 2002
From: Science(Vol. 296, Issue 5571)
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Document Type: Book review
Length: 738 words

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From Certainty to Uncertainty The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century by F. David Peat

Joseph Henry (National Academy Press), Washington, DC, 2002. 248 pp. $24.95. ISBN 0-309-07641-2.

Writing "the story of science and ideas in the twentieth century" would be a challenge indeed, but David Peat's focus in From Certainty to Uncertainty is much more aptly indicated by the book's title than its subtitle. Peat, a theoretical physicist and the founder of the Pad Center for New Learning in Italy, is interested in the way the "clockwork" certainty of a universe governed by Newton's laws and Maxwell's equations has been superseded by a world view in which key elements are quantum uncertainty and chaos, albeit deterministic chaos. Although his approach is, loosely speaking, historical, the history highlighted is selectively chosen to provide a framework for his speculations about the way in which our scientific views color, and are colored by, things like language and the way human societies interact. When combined with the brevity of some of the discussion of key scientific topics (the general theory of relativity is dealt...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A87024290