Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn

I'm currently reading Amanda Gefter's Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn: A father, a daughter, the meaning of nothing, and the beginning of everything.

First observation: Holy cow, book subtitles are getting LONG.

But, anyway. I had hoped it would be a readable, layperson-friendly discussion of the cosmological questions that interest me (where did the universe come from? how do we know? what is all this stuff that surrounds us--matter, dark energy, etc.?). So far, it has been just what I'd hoped, though I'm only a quarter of the way in. So far, Amanda Gefter is doing a great job at explaining some very difficult material. I'm understanding this stuff better than I ever have before. (Also, she's not afraid to throw in some funny remarks, which helps.)

These questions, these issues, have long interested me, but delving more than an inch deep into them requires one to tangle with physics, my least favorite of the sciences. In physics, things get weird: counterintuitive, complicated, difficult to imagine or even approach. We have to deal with all sorts of forces and objects we've never seen with our own eyes: quarks, gluons, and so forth. We are trying to understand everything, and nothing, and how everything came from nothing (or did it?).

It feels like a good time to grapple with such big, universal (in more ways than one) ideas.

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