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P C W Davies

The Goldilocks Enigma

The laws of physics sometimes look as if they have been set up to allow for the emergence of life. In 'The Goldilocks Enigma' Paul Davies looks at the various explanations of why this should be so. For some people it is clear evidence of the existence of a deity. Others point to the idea of a multiverse - lots of universes exist, so some are bound to be 'just right' for life. Davies' preferred explanation takes a different tack - mind is central to the universe and participates in its existence. In summary, this book is easy to read but contains plenty of thought provoking material.

Davies devotes much of the first half of the book to explaining the concepts of modern physics and cosmology. Remember, however, that this is a speculative book, rather than one designed to teach you physics. For instance Davies mentions the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems, but a few pages later says 'A disorderly arrangement of particles moving according to general relativity will generally not all converge to a point' - well my impression is that singularity theorems were proved to show that they will. Now Davies may be justified in saying what he did, but I felt that an opportunity was lost to clarify a difficult subject. info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 0618592261
Salesrank: 1002555
Published: 2007 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Amazon price $13.80
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Hardcover 366 pages  
ISBN: 0713998830
Salesrank: 140956
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2006 Allen Lane
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Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 0618592261
Salesrank: 909536
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2007 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Amazon price CDN$ 57.95
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 25.00:Used from CDN$ 0.85
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Product Description
Cosmic Jackpot is Paul Davies’s eagerly awaited return to cosmology, the successor to his critically acclaimed bestseller The Mind of God. Here he tackles all the "big questions," including the biggest of them all: Why does the universe seem so well adapted for life?

In his characteristically clear and elegant style, Davies shows how recent scientific discoveries point to a perplexing fact: many different aspects of the cosmos, from the properties of the humble carbon atom to the speed of light, seem tailor-made to produce life. A radical new theory says it’s because our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, each one slightly different. Our universe is bio-friendly by accident -- we just happened to win the cosmic jackpot.

While this "multiverse" theory is compelling, it has bizarre implications, such as the existence of infinite copies of each of us and Matrix-like simulated universes. And it still leaves a lot unexplained. Davies believes there’s a more satisfying solution to the problem of existence: the observations we make today could help shape the nature of reality in the remote past. If this is true, then life -- and, ultimately, consciousness -- aren’t just incidental byproducts of nature, but central players in the evolution of the universe.

Whether he’s elucidating dark matter or dark energy, M-theory or the multiverse, Davies brings the leading edge of science into sharp focus, provoking us to think about the cosmos and our place within it in new and thrilling ways.