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Cosmological Koans: A Journey to the Heart of Physical Reality

Cosmological Koans: A Journey to the Heart of Physical Reality

by Anthony Aguirre

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Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on May 19, 2020

Overview

Cosmological Koans invites the reader into an intellectual adventure of the highest order.

Through more than fifty Koans—pleasingly paradoxical vignettes following the ancient Zen tradition—leading physicist Anthony Aguirre takes the reader across the world from West to East, and through ideas spanning the age, breadth, and depth of the Universe.

Using these beguiling Koans (Could there be a civilization on a mote of dust? How much of your fate have you made? Who cleans the universe?) and a flair for explaining complex science, Aguirre covers cosmic questions that scientific giants from Aristotle to Galileo to Heisenberg have grappled with, from the meaning of quantum theory and the nature of time to the origin of multiple universes.

A playful and enlightening book, Cosmological Koans explores the strange hinterland between the deep structure of the physical world and our personal experience of it, giving readers what Einstein himself called “the most beautiful and deepest experience” anyone can have: a sense of the mysterious.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393358315
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/19/2020
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 922,679
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Anthony Aguirre is professor of physics at the University of California–Santa Cruz and cofounder of the Foundational Questions Institute. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Table of Contents

A Map of the Journey ix

Introduction xi

Part 1 The Path Laid Out before Us

1 The Arrow (1630) 3

2 Setting Sail (1610) 10

3 Being Time (1630) 16

4 The Tower (1608) 23

5 A Perfect Map (1617) 31

6 The Cosmic Now (now) 38

7 Drifting Dreams of Venice (1609) 44

8 Choose Your Path (1612) 53

9 Taking the Leap (1612) 60

Part 2 An Uncertain Trail through Treacherous Terrain

10 Releasing the Djinn (1610) 71

11 Many Paths Make the Road (1617) 81

12 Sufficient Reason for a Roll of the Dice (1611) 87

13 Through the Gates (1612) 99

14 Splitting the World (1624) 108

15 What Cannot Be Known (1627) 118

16 What We Talk about When We Talk about Free Will (1610) 124

17 The Mind of Ming (1618) 134

18 A Halting Problem (1610) 142

Part 3 Torn Apart and Reassembled

19 Instructions from the Cook (1625) 149

20 Nothing Is Lost (now and then) 157

21 Being and Knowingness (1610) 166

22 Each Morning Is the Universe (1612) 172

23 Wandering in the Desert (1610) 179

24 A Hundred Thousand Million Kalpas (1612) 184

25 Mountains and Mist (1612) 190

26 Hazy Bifurcations in Decohered Histories (1610) 196

Part 4 Lofty Peaks with Endless Views

27 Beneath the Firmament (1608) 201

28 Celestial Spheres (1611) 209

29 Through the Looking Glass (1608) 217

30 Theodicy (1610) 222

31 The Floating Gardens (1611) 229

32 The Painting in the Cave (1613) 236

33 A Dialogue concerning Infinitely Many Things (1608) 243

34 Sickness unto Death (1615) 249

35 An Honored Guest (1611) 255

Part 5 Who Am I? Don't Know!

36 Who Sleeps, Perchance to Dream? (unknown) 263

37 A Simple Arrangement of Some Bits (1610) 268

38 What Survives (1627) 275

39 The Ice Garden (1621) 284

40 An Unfettered Mind (1612) 288

41 The Simulation Argument (unknown) 294

42 Time and Free Will (1624) 299

43 An Arc of Recohering Trajectories (1610-1641) 308

Part 6 Form Is Emptiness; Emptiness Is Form

44 What Is It You Sail In? (1620) 313

45 The Clear Blue Sky (1614) 318

46 At the Foundation (1620) 328

47 The Great Inheritance (1611) 334

48 A Long Hidden Game (1629) 341

49 The Mind-Only School (1619) 348

50 East and West (1630) 354

51 The Arrow (1630) 360

Acknowledgments 361

Notes 363