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Science Books

June 9, 2005

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
Brian Greene, 2000
ISBN: 0375708111

Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Cornell and Columbia universities, attempts to knit, rather than knot, general relativity and quantum mechanics together in this elegant account of string theory. A fascinating book that allows the reader to observe, or at least imagine, how we may observe the universe in years to come by using string theory. While sub-atomic particles can only be observed via the abstract realm of theoretical mathematics, Greene uses plain language to include and enlighten the reader on the potential scientific implications and applications of string theory. With both quantum mechanics [small objects] and general relativity [big objects] beginning to merge in an effort to explain black holes, dark matter, dark energy and a host of other cosmological mysteries Greene's book is a timely contribution. Greene predicts that string theory may be the bridge between the scientific disciplines that eventually provides the standard physical model of the universe.

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life
Richard Dawkins, 2005
ISBN: 061861916X

In this expansive and beautifully presented book, Richard Dawkins takes us on a journey of four billion years into our past to revisit our ancestors. Dawkins uses 39 representative species from discrete periods in human evolution to tell fascinating evolutionary tales. Like Chaucer before him, however, the tales do not exclusively relate to the 'teller', but rather convey a much broader message about evolutionary life and the lessons that can be learned. In his pilgrimage from farmers to bacteria, Dawkins' lively writing style, clarity and erudite explanations hold the reader's attention to the end, making The Ancestor's Tale a very accessible read. Like few other writers, Dawkins does not shy away from his passionate fervour for scientific rigour, and his dislike of religious doctrine, a trait that has also made him a controversial figure. In a recent BBC interview, asked if it was time to move on from debates between science and religion, Dawkins stated that: "We can't move on as long as more than 50 percent of American voters believe the entire universe began later than the Middle Stone Age". Ultimately in The Ancestor's Tale, Dawkins' makes the argument that whatever arbitrary point we choose to begin the journey, and whatever species tells their tale, all evolutionary paths lead back to a single point in the evolutionary chain - the origin of life.

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