The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next (Paperback)
In this illuminating book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics — the search for the laws of nature — is losing its way. Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of string theory and encourages a new direction for where the next big idea may lead.
Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the public’s imagination — and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Yet these speculations dominate the field — attracting the best talent and much of the funding.
Modern science has created a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing less popular avenues. As Smolin points out, the situation threatens to impede the very progress of science.
With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin charts the rise and fall of string theory and takes a fascinating look at what will replace it. Smolin not only tells us who and what to watch for in the coming years, he offers novel solutions for seeking out and nurturing the best new talent — giving us a chance, at long last, of finding the next Einstein.
About the Author
LEE SMOLIN is a theoretical physicist who has made influential contributions to the search for a unification of physics. He is a founding faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He is the author of several books including TheTrouble with Physics, Einstein's Unfinished Revolution, The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, Time Reborn, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, and The Life of the Cosmos.
"Lee Smolin provides a much needed, enlightening and engagingly written antidote to string-theory hype." --David Deutsch, Oxford University, author of The Fabric of Reality
"If you want to think in new ways about the interconnected universe around you, read Lee Smolin's provocative, inspiring book." --Margaret Geller, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Harvard University
"Bold, provocative, and, best of all, a joy to read." --Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, MIT
"Smolin tells the somber tale of contemporary physics with virtuosity, passion, and courage." --Joy Christian, Oxford University
"An uncommonly clear and confident account of the great obstacles—and opportunities—facing physics today. . . .engrossing and illuminating." --Tim Ferris, author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way and The Big Shebang
"[Smolin] exudes a love of science and imagination, and a faith in the next generation of young physicists." --Jaron Lanier, computer scientist and columnist for Discover
"Lee Smolin is keeping his eyes open, asks sharp questions, and offers his delightful insights as a critical insider." --Gerard 't Hooft, Nobel Laureate, University of Utrecht
"[Smolin's] knowledge of [string theory] enables him to tell the story, and survey the road ahead, with clarity and grace." --Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and Quicksilver
"Lee Smolin's understanding of theoretical physics is unusually broad and deep, and his critical judgments are exceptionally penetrating." --Roger Penrose, author of The Road to Reality and The Emperor's New Mind
"Lee Smolin has written an epic story with great energy and characteristic passion. . . .Thrilling." --Janna Levin, Barnard College of Columbia University, author of How the Universe Got Its Spots
"Clear, lively, and continuously interesting. . .Reading it is a very exciting experience and just what is needed at this time." --Kim Stanley Robinson, best-selling author of The Mars Trilogy
"Smolin offers a compelling argument. . . This is a well-written, critical profile of the theoretical physics community." Library Journal Starred —