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In this wide-ranging book, Brian Davies discusses the basis for scientists' claims to kwledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasizing t only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific kwledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defence of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered. A large number of examples are used to illustrate these points, and many of the deep issues in today's world discussed - from psychology and evolution to quantum theory, consciousness and even religious belief. Disentangling kwledge from opinion and aspiration is a hard task, but this book provides a clear guide to the difficulties.
E Brian Davies, Tutorial Fellow at St John's College, Oxford in 1970 and one of two editors for the Quarterly Journal of Mathematics, Oxford. Developed the theory of open quantum systems, writing a monograph on the subject, which became the standard text. Appointed to the Chair of Pure Mathematics at King's College, London in 1981 and researched heat kernels and spectral theory. Subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995. His monograph on heat kernels, involving several hundred publications and having applications in many parts of mathematics, is the authoritative text on the subject. Founded the London Mathematical Society Student Text Series in the 1980s, and has recently senior editor for the LMS Monographs. Has previously been a member of the National Advisory Board of the Isaac Newton Institute and sat on the Research Assessment Exercise Panel for Pure Mathematics in 2001. Published over 180 papers.