Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe

Princeton University Press
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What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy possibly have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, theoretical physicists are immune to mere trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, acclaimed physicist and bestselling author Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this provocative book, he argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas—string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology.

Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgment of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds by suggesting possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Finally, Penrose describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work, from twistor theory, a possible alternative to string theory that is beginning to acquire a fashionable status, to "conformal cyclic cosmology," an idea so fantastic that it could be called "conformal crazy cosmology."

The result is an important critique of some of the most significant developments in physics today from one of its most eminent figures.

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Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 13, 2016
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Mathematics / General
Science / General
Science / History
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Science / Physics / General
Science / Physics / Quantum Theory
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Proudly serving the scientific community for over a century, this 95th edition of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is an update of a classic reference, mirroring the growth and direction of science. This venerable work continues to be the most accessed and respected scientific reference in the world. An authoritative resource consisting of tables of data and current international recommendations on nomenclature, symbols, and units, its usefulness spans not only the physical sciences but also related areas of biology, geology, and environmental science.

The 95th Edition of the Handbook includes 22 new tables and major updates and expansions. A new series highlighting the achievements of some of the major historical figures in chemistry and physics was initiated with the 94th edition. This series is continued with this edition, which is focused on Galileo Galilei, James Clerk Maxwell, Marie Sklodowska Curie, and Linus Carl Pauling. This series, which provides biographical information, a list of major achievements, and notable quotations attributed to each of the renowned chemists and physicists, will be continued in succeeding editions. Each edition will feature two chemists and two physicists.

Available in traditional print format, as an eBook, and online, this reference puts physical property data and mathematical formulas used in labs and classrooms every day within easy reach.

New tables:

Section 8: Analytical Chemistry

Figures of Merit Common Symbols Used in Gas and Liquid Chromatographic Schematic Diagrams Varieties of Hyphenated Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry Section 15: Practical Laboratory Data Standard Fittings for Compressed Gas Cylinders Plug and Outlet Configurations for Common Laboratory Devices

Section 16: Health and Safety Information

Abbreviations Used in the Assessment and Presentation of Laboratory Hazards Incompatible Chemicals Explosion (Shock) Hazards Water-Reactive Chemicals Testing Requirements for Peroxidizable Compounds Tests for the Presence of Peroxides Pyrophoric Compounds - Compounds That Are Reactive with Air Flammability Hazards of Common Solvents Selection of Laboratory Gloves Selection of Respirator Cartridges and Filters Selection of Protective Laboratory Garments Protective Clothing Levels Chemical Fume Hoods and Biological Safety Cabinets Gas Cylinder Safety and Stamped Markings Laser Hazards in the Laboratory General Characteristics of Ionizing Radiation for the Purpose of Practical Application of Radiation Protection Radiation Safety Units

Significantly updated and expanded tables:

Section 1: Basic Constants, Units, and Conversion Factors

Update of Standard Atomic Weights (2013) Update of Atomic Masses and Abundances

Section 8: Analytical Chemistry

Expansion of Abbreviations and Symbols Used in Analytical Chemistry

Section 9: Molecular Structure and Spectroscopy

Update of Bond Dissociation Energies

Section 12: Properties of Solids

Major update and Expansion of Electron Stopping Powers

Section 14: Geophysics, Astronomy, and Acoustics

Major Update of Interstellar Molecules Update of Atmospheric Concentration of Carbon Dioxide, 1958-2013 Update of Global Temperature Trend, 1880-2013

Section 15: Practical Laboratory Data

Major update of Reference Points on the ITS-90 Temperature Scale Update of Laboratory Solvents and Other Liquid Reagents

Section 16: Health and Safety Information

Update of Flammability of Chemical Substances Update of Threshold Limits for Airborne Contaminants to 2013 values

Appendix B:

Update of Sources of Physical and Chemical Data

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