The One True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction on the Limits of Knowledge by John L. Casti, Joseph Henry Press, National Academy of Sciences (Hardback, 2003)
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About this product
- DescriptionBy the author of The Cambridge Quintet, John L. Castia (TM)s new book continues the tradition of combining science fact with just the right dose of fiction. Part vel, part science a wholly informative and entertaining. In the fall of 1933 the newly founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, welcomed its first faculty member, Albert Einstein. With this superstar on the roster, the Institute was able to attract many more of the greatest scholars, scientists, and poets from around the world. It was to be an intellectual haven, a place where the most brilliant minds on the planet, sheltered from the outside worlda (TM)s cares and calamities, could study and collaborate and devote their time to the pure and exclusive pursuit of kwledge. For many of them, it was the a /one, true, platonic heaven.a Over the years, key figures at the Institute began to question the limits to what science could tell us about the world, pondering the universal secrets it might unlock. Could science be the ultimate source of truth; or are there intrinsic limits, built into the very fabric of the universe, to what we can learn? In the late 1940a (TM)s and early 1950a (TM)s, this important question was being asked and pondered upon by some of the Institutea (TM)s deepest thinkers. Enter the dramatis personae to illuminate the science and the philosophy of the time. Mathematical logician Kurt Godel was the unackwledged Grant Exalted Ruler of this platonic estate a but he was a ruler without a scepter as he awaited the inexplicably indefinite postponement of his promotion to full, tenured professor. Also in residence was his colleague, the Hungarian-American polymath, John van Neumann, developer of game theory, the axiomatic foundations of quantum mechanics, and the digital computer a stymied by the Institutea (TM)s refusal to sanction his bold proposal to actually build a computer. One of Godela (TM)s closest friends figures large in this story: Albert Einstein, by common consensus the greatest physicist the 20th century had ever kwn. And, of course, the director the Institute, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, must by necessity be key to any story that focuses in on this time and place. Author Casti elegantly sets the stage and then masterfully directs this impressive cast of charactersa with able assists by many a /mir-charactera icons like T. S. Eliot, Wolfgang Pauli, Freeman Dyson, and David Bohm, to tell a story of science, history, and ideas. As we watch events unfold (some of which are documented fact while others are creatively imagined fiction), we are witness to the discussions and deliberations of this august groupa | privy to wide-ranging conversations on thinking machines, quantum logic, biology as physics, weather forecasting, the structure of ecomic systems, the distinction between mathematics and natural science, the structure of the universe, and the powers of the human mind a all centered around the question of the limits to scientific kwledge. Imaginatively conceived and artfully executed, The One True Platonic Heaven is an accessible and intriguing presentation of some of the deepest scientific and philosophical ideas of the 20th century.
- Author(s)John L. Casti,Joseph Henry Press,National Academy of Sciences
- PublisherNational Academies Press
- Date of Publication25/04/2003
- SubjectPopular Science
- Place of PublicationWashington
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintHenry (Joseph) Press
- Content Noteindex
- Weight318 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine19 mm
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