9781524749019

Probable Impossibilities Musings on Beginnings and Endings

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781524749019

  • ISBN10:

    152474901X

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2021-02-09
  • Publisher: Pantheon

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Summary

The acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams tackles "big questions like the origin of the universe and the nature of consciousness ... in an entertaining and easily digestible way” (Wall Street Journal) with a collection of meditative essays on the possibilities—and impossibilities—of nothingness and infinity, and how our place in the cosmos falls somewhere in between.
 
Can space be divided into smaller and smaller units, ad infinitum? Does space extend to larger and larger regions, on and on to infinity? Is consciousness reducible to the material brain and its neurons? What was the origin of life, and can biologists create life from scratch in the lab?
 
Physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, whom The Washington Post has called “the poet laureate of science writers,” explores these questions and more—from the anatomy of a smile to the capriciousness of memory to the specialness of life in the universe to what came before the Big Bang.

Probable Impossibilities is a deeply engaged consideration of what we know of the universe, of life and the mind, and of things vastly larger and smaller than ourselves.

Author Biography

ALAN LIGHTMAN is the author of six novels, including the international best seller Einstein's Dreams, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. He has taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He is currently professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT.

Table of Contents

Probable Impossibilities 3
Between Nothingness and Infinity 6
What Came Before the Big Bang? 23
On Nothingness 37
Atoms 49
Modern Prometheus 59
One Hundred Billion 83
Smile 86
The Anatomy of Attention 91
Immortality 97
The Ghost House of My Childhood 104
In Defense of Disorder 110
Miracles 122
Our Lonely Home in Nature 134
Is Life Special? 139
Cosmic Biocentrism 149
The Man Who Knows Infinity 163
 
Notes 185

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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