Princeton University Press, 1991

Paper, 1991


This collection is largely based on a series of articles I did for Discover magazine in 1987. By and large, the essays are easier than those found in Science a la Mode.
For reasons I don't understand, after initially refusing to publish it, PUP then nominated it for the Pulitzer Prize. To compound the irony, in 1996 the book was chosen by the AAAS Project 2061--that is, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's national science standards program--as one of the 120 "best" books for fostering sciecne literacy. This despite that fact that I came out publically against this collection of standards at the AAAS convention and that the book is out of print.

The essay of greatest interest is probably the first, which demonstrates how the though processes of scientists differs markedly from that of nonscientists. The second essay concerns the efforts of scientist-instrument makers to improve traditional musical instruments, such as the violin.
The following three essays are the Discover articles and concern the direction of time, the anthropic principle and the end of the universe, respectively. "Alternative Cosmologies," which I co-authored with G.F.R. Ellis and Richard Matzner was an unpublished article for Scientific American. It concerned cosmological models beyond the usual Big Bang that the public hears about (this was the authors' main area of research at the time). "The Epoch of Observational Cosmology" asks the question, At what epoch in the history of the universe could one develop a science of cosmology? The Cygnus X-3 essays is probably a bit out of date and "The Ultimate Collider" is an April Fool's joke I wrote for Scientific American and suggests building an accelerator capable of attaining the Planck energy-- the highest energy conceivable.

From the review in Science magazine.

Below the Table of Contents are links to other books.


Chapter 1. A Physicist on Madison Avenue

Chapter 2. Instruments of the Future, Traditions of the Past

Chapter 3. The Seven Arrows of Time.

Chapter 4. The Measure of All Things.

Chapter 5. On that Day, When the Earth is Dissolved in Positrons...

Chapter 6. The Epoch of Observational Cosmology

Chapter 7. Alternative Cosmologies

Chapter 8.Stranger than Fiction: Cygnus X-3 Chapter 9. The Ultimate Collider
Other Books