1/09/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Prometheus Books. 341 illustrated indexed page hardback. Price: $28.00 (US) GBP24.95 (UK) – half that via Amazon. ISBN: 978-1-61614-443-2.
check out websites: www.prometheusbooks.com and www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger
Victor J. Stenger’s latest book title, ‘The Fallacy Of Fine-Tuning’, makes more sense from its sub-title, ‘Why The Universe Is Not Designed For Us’. What that means is that Adam and Eve didn’t walk out of the Garden of Eden into a waiting Earth filled with all the animals we currently have around us. This might not please the Creationists who want a simple life but nature shows things aren’t like that. Stenger points out that our existence is because we are a product of an existing universe with nothing there making it better or worse.
Something that is very damning is the statistics that 47% of the USA’s population against the 16% in the UK believes in Creationism. I would think that there was something wrong with education system across the pond for a country that deems itself advanced. Although Stenger’s book is aimed at adults, I would have thought some publishers must surely do more and release books explaining evolution to various children’s age groups. I mean, if they can’t understand it when young, then these percentages are going to grow even more.
This book, however, is aimed at adults and shows how our cosmos works from the ground up. There is some maths in here as well and even shows how Einstein’s famous equation was derived. If you have some grasp of physics nothing here should be beyond you. Even if you don’t, Stenger’s explanations put across his points without having to tax yourself on the formulas shown.
One thing you’ll become aware of as you read this book is how much of this reality is built from constants, whether is pi, e or even Einstein’s self-pronounced ‘fudge factor’ in his general theory of relativity which actually turned out to be correct because it allows for repulsive gravity.
Stenger also knocks another nail in the coffin of religion by pointing out all religions has some myth or other about creation, none of which is supported by facts. Equally, he also re-enforces Stephen Hawking’s point, which has often been misquoted, that there wasn’t one Big Bang at the start of the universe when there were probably several. If the force of these explosions had been off by even a split-second than the universe wouldn’t have been created. Subjectively, I couldn’t help but wonder that if an implosion had happened, wouldn’t any further explosions just keep happening until everything was thrust out the way it is.
Another thing that I did puzzle over is the diagram on page 138 where space/time is seen to be converging towards a south pole. It did make me wonder that perhaps our expanding universe is actually on a parabolic curve towards some end that our time is too short to measure it in.
Something else for you to consider here is that electricity and gravitational laws are both inverse square forces, cancelling out distance as being a factor. I wonder how long before scientists view there is something else going on with the information.
There is a lot of discussion on atomic structure, not just in chemistry but also the nature of electrons being more an energy field than particle. It did leave me pondering on the nature of the other particles in the atom and how many of them are truly functional or just debris.
A very good thing about books such as this is that in explaining things about the universe is that you come away with a good grounding of both physics and some quantum mechanics. Even if you have some knowledge of these already, you can see from some of my speculations above, it will set you thinking which in SF is never a bad thing. A definite read for those who want to be scientifically educated and seeing the physics formulas you learnt at school being used in a practical way.
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