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John Horgan

The end of science

Can science keep going on at an ever accelerating rate, or will the flow of new ideas dry up in the near future? Horgan asks plenty of well known scientists but doesn't listen to their answers - he's already decided in his own mind, in which science seems to be a form of post-modernist literary criticism. Science is called naïve when dealing with something which is well known, ironic when it's more speculative, so you can't win either way. There's not much here if you want a map of how science will progress in the coming decades, but the book is worth reading for the interviews with such a diverse range of scientists - Horgan manages to get them to answer some awkward questions without being thrown out of the door.

The book covers a wide range of subjects, starting with philosopy and moving through physics and cosmology to evolution, social science and neuroscience. In the later chapters on chaos and artificial intelligence there's more scope for Horgan's criticism of excessive speculation. There's also a chapter on the 1994 Santa Fe conference on the Limits to Scientific Knowledge. In the final chapter, in his responses to his critics, Horgan's arguments seem much more cogent than at the start of the book. Unfortunately the end of the book is reached before this new mode of reasoning makes much progress.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 322 pages  
ISBN: 0553061747
Salesrank: 2210140
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 1997 Broadway Books
Amazon price $5.85
Marketplace:New from $4.21:Used from $0.01
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 334 pages  
ISBN: 0316640522
Salesrank: 2118831
Weight:0.95 lbs
Published: 1997 Little, Brown
Marketplace:New from £3.82:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0553061747
Salesrank: 508489
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 1997 Broadway Books
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 25.51:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
As a writer for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, John Horgan has an unsurpassed window on contemporary science, routinely interviewing the scientific geniuses of our times, scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Hawking, Karl Popper and Noam Chomsky. In THE END OF SCIENCE, Horgan displays his genius for getting these larger-than-life figures to be human, whilst also encouraging them to confront the very limits of knowledge. Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final 'theory of everything' that signals the end? Horgan extracts surprisingly candid answers to these and other delicate questions as he discusses God, Star Trek, superstrings, quarks, consciousness and numerous other topics. In a time where scientific rationality is under fire from every quarter, THE END OF SCIENCE is a witty, thoughtful, profound and entertaining narrative which serves as both a critique of and a homage to modern science.