Experiments demonstrate that people are more distracted when they overhear a phone conversation—where they can know only one side of the dialogue—than when they overhear two people talking and know both sides. Why does half a conversation make us more curious than a whole conversation?
In the ever-fascinating Why? Mario Livio interviewed scientists in several fields to explore the nature of curiosity. He examined the lives of two of history’s most curious geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Feynman. He also talked to people with boundless curiosity: a superstar rock guitarist who is also an astrophysicist; an astronaut with degrees in computer science, biology, literature, and medicine. What drives these people to be curious about so many subjects?
Curiosity is at the heart of mystery and suspense novels. It is essential to other forms of art, from painting to sculpture to music. It is the principal driver of basic scientific research. Even so, there is still no definitive scientific consensus about why we humans are so curious, or about the mechanisms in our brain that are responsible for curiosity.
Mario Livio—an astrophysicist who has written about mathematics, biology, and now psychology and neuroscience—explores this irresistible subject in a lucid, entertaining way that will captivate anyone who is curious about curiosity.
"The Accelerating Universe is not only an informative book about modern cosmology. It is rich storytelling and, above all, a celebration of the human mind in its quest for beauty in all things."
—Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
"This is a wonderfully lucid account of the extraordinary discoveries that have made the last years a golden period for observational cosmology. But Mario Livio has not only given the reader one clear explanation after another of what astronomers are up to, he has used them to construct a provocative argument for the importance of aesthetics in the development of science and for the inseparability of science, art, and culture."
—Lee Smolin, author of The Life of the Cosmos
"What a pleasure to read! An exciting, simple account of the universe revealed by modern astronomy. Beautifully written, clearly presented, informed by scientific and philosophical insights."
—John Bahcall, Institute for Advanced Study
"A book with charm, beauty, elegance, and importance. As authoritative a journey as can be taken through modern cosmology."
—Allan Sandage, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner once wondered about “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in the formulation of the laws of nature. Is God a Mathematician? investigates why mathematics is as powerful as it is. From ancient times to the present, scientists and philosophers have marveled at how such a seemingly abstract discipline could so perfectly explain the natural world. More than that—mathematics has often made predictions, for example, about subatomic particles or cosmic phenomena that were unknown at the time, but later were proven to be true. Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered? If, as Einstein insisted, mathematics is “a product of human thought that is independent of experience,” how can it so accurately describe and even predict the world around us?
Physicist and author Mario Livio brilliantly explores mathematical ideas from Pythagoras to the present day as he shows us how intriguing questions and ingenious answers have led to ever deeper insights into our world. This fascinating book will interest anyone curious about the human mind, the scientific world, and the relationship between them.
The Golden Ratio is a captivating journey through art and architecture, botany and biology, physics and mathematics. It tells the human story of numerous phi-fixated individuals, including the followers of Pythagoras who believed that this proportion revealed the hand of God; astronomer Johannes Kepler, who saw phi as the greatest treasure of geometry; such Renaissance thinkers as mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa; and such masters of the modern world as Goethe, Cezanne, Bartok, and physicist Roger Penrose. Wherever his quest for the meaning of phi takes him, Mario Livio reveals the world as a place where order, beauty, and eternal mystery will always coexist.
„În pofida gafelor, și poate chiar datorită lor, cele cinci personalități pe care le-am urmărit și prezentat în această carte nu numai că au revoluționat domeniile lor științifice, dar sunt și autorii unor creații intelectuale cu adevărat mărețe. Spre deosebire de numeroase contribuții științifice care se adresează doar profesioniștilor din cadrul aceleiași discipline, operele acestor maeștri au depășit granițele dintre știință și cultura generală.“ (Mario LIVIO)
Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein all made groundbreaking contributions to their fields—but each also stumbled badly. Darwin’s theory of natural selection shouldn’t have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Lord Kelvin gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world’s premier chemist, constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a “Big Bang” origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein speculated incorrectly about the forces of the universe—and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. As Mario Livio luminously explains in this “thoughtful meditation on the course of science itself” (The New York Times Book Review), these five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors.
“Thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written” (The Washington Post), Brilliant Blunders is a wonderfully insightful examination of the psychology of five fascinating scientists—and the mistakes as well as the achievements that made them famous.
For thousands of years mathematicians solved progressively more difficult algebraic equations, until they encountered the quintic equation, which resisted solution for three centuries. Working independently, two great prodigies ultimately proved that the quintic cannot be solved by a simple formula. These geniuses, a Norwegian named Niels Henrik Abel and a romantic Frenchman named Évariste Galois, both died tragically young. Their incredible labor, however, produced the origins of group theory.
The first extensive, popular account of the mathematics of symmetry and order, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved is told not through abstract formulas but in a beautifully written and dramatic account of the lives and work of some of the greatest and most intriguing mathematicians in history.
A lo largo de la historia, los matemáticos fueron resolviendo progresivamente ecuaciones algebraicas cada vez más complejas, hasta que toparon con la ecuación de quinto grado. Durante varios siglos se resistió a ser resuelta, hasta que dos prodigios matemáticos -el noruego Henrik Abel y el francés Évariste Galois- , que vivieron en pleno romanticismo y murieron jóvenes y en circunstancias trágicas, descubrieron que no podía resolverse con los métodos al uso y debía ser afrontada con nuevos ojos...
Este libro es la apasionante narración de cómo dos matemáticos se enfrentaron a una ecuación que se resistía a ser resuelta, cómo su gesta abrió nuevas perspectivas en las matemáticas y ayudó a entender las “leyes” de la simetría cuya aplicación desborda el mundo de las matemáticas y la física y llega a la naturaleza y al arte.
人類歷史就是充滿一連串的錯誤與試誤的過程，不論在哪種領域，從聖經、希臘神話、哲學……一直到軍事領域的典籍都是如此。李維歐在本書中討論了五個偉大科學家的嚴重錯誤，包括達爾文、化學家萊納斯．鮑林（Linus Pauling）、物理學家開爾文男爵（Lord Kelvin；William Thomson）；英國著名的天文物理學家和宇宙學家弗雷德．霍伊爾（Fred Hoyle）以及愛因斯坦；他們在其所建構的偉大理論中所犯下的錯誤及其細節；還有這些細節所引發的意想不到的結果。