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Piero Scaruffi

David Layzer

Cosmogenesis

In Cosmogenesis David Layzer starts from two fundamental principles, and develops a wide ranging world view which encompasses quantum theory, cosmology, evolution and the philosophy of mind. The first principle is that an suitably infinite system may seem to be random on small scales, but in total may be thought of as not being random at all. Thue second is that emergent properties of systems should be thought of as being something new, rather than taking the reductionist view that such properties are latent in the underlying system.

In the first part of the book Layzer shows how these principles can be used to tackle the interpretation of quantum theory, and in particular the measurement problem. He then goes on to present his (cold) alternative to the Hot Big Bang, although I would say that progress in this area since the book was written has supported the standard view. In the later parts of the book Layzer applies his ideas to the problems of sorting out randomness from purpose in evolution and to the nature of the mind, including our development of language. The book is written for the non-technical reader, with plenty of helpful explanations of the topics covered. You may not agree with everything that Layzer has to say, but I feel that the book is worth reading for the thought-provoking ideas it raises.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0195069080
Salesrank: 2775464
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 1991 Oxford University Press
Amazon price $27.59
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0195069080
Salesrank: 1738589
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 1990 Oxford University Press USA
Amazon price £32.99
Marketplace:New from £16.12:Used from £1.08
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0195069080
Salesrank: 2922935
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 1991 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 35.87
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 29.39:Used from CDN$ 2.63
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Product Description
Eminent Harvard astrophysicist David Layzer offers readers a unified theory of natural order and its origins, from the permanence, stability, and orderliness of sub-atomic particles to the evolution of the human mind. Cosmogenesis provides the first extended account of a controversial theory that connects quantum mechanics with the second law of thermodynamics, and presents novel resolutions of longstanding paradoxes in these theories, such as those of Schroedinger's cat and the arrow of time. Layzer's main concerns in the second half of the book are with the philosophical issues surrounding science. He develops a highly original reconciliation of the conflict between traditional scientific determinism and the intuitive notion of individual freedom. He argues that although the elementary processes underlying biological evolution and human development are governed by physical laws, they are nevertheless genuinely creative and unpredictable.