Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Book Report - This Idea Must Die

The book I decided to read was "This idea Must Die" by John Brockman. It talks about all of the scientific ideas that need to be put to rest. It is said that these scienfitic ideas are blocking human progress and thats why they want them to die off. John Brockman asked 175 of some of the worlds greatest scientists, economists, artists, and philosophers "what scientific idea is ready for retirement?" and provided us a book of short the essays of the people answering this question for different ideas. i found this book to be very interesting, yet very confusing. It was confusing because some chapters were very hard to understand and some were said to sound very biased and more like a rant rather than giving information on the problem. But, I also found it to be very interesting because I was able to compare my beliefs to the authors and also I learned alot and also change how I feel about certain ideas.

One of the first ideas I found to be interesting was that "The Big Bang was the First moment of Time" (Pg. 32) He explains that the big bang is a hypothesis that the universe has been expanding for 13.7 billion years from and extremely hot and primodial state. That fact doesnt bother him, he explains what concerns him is the further hyposthesis is the origin of the universe was the first moment of time . So, all thats exist or has ever existed is 13.7 billion years old. This is what bothered him because of how unsucessful the hypothesis was. It leaves out many unanswered questions about the universe. The universe was to have started off in a special state for it to evolve into anything like our universe. He says this hypothesis is remarkebly generic and unconstraining due to the many possible states the universe could have started out as. He continues by saying how extaordinarily homogeneous and symmetric our universe was. He asks the question why and continues to say that since the big bang was the first moment of time, there can be no specific answer becuase there was nothing before the big bang to base an explanation on. This brought on the idea that God has made the universe and made it so.
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The second idea I found to be interesting was a chapter about "The Universe" (Pg.11) In this chapter, the author talks about needing to retire a 2,500 year old scientific idea of the universe as the single volume of space and time that contains everything. He explains that 21st cosmology suggest that all the stars, galaxies, space and time we see in the cosmos since the big bang does not surround all of reality. He points out that the universe has been observed and measured for thousands of years and has been sucessful because now we know more about the origin of the universe, but its no longer possible to identifity it. The observations of the universe only extend to a little more than 10 billion light years from earth. No matter how long the universe exist, we will only have acess to a certian part, while a certain amount of universe still remains beyond what the observations say.
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The third idea I found to be interesting was about "The Scientific Method" (Pg.392) . In this chapter, the author talks about how the scientific method itself should die off. Its the idea that theres only one scientific method and only one way to obtain scientific results. The scientific method has limitations; they are based on a hypothesis that is able to be tested, and falsifiable, also different experiments and observations that can be repeated. This makes certain topics and problems harder to understand when using the scientific method. One example of a scientific project that didnt fit the scientific method was in 1928, Alexander Fleming accidentally left a cover off a petri dish used to cultivate bacteria. the plate was contaminated with by a mold that contained penicillin. In this case, there was no problem or question to start with because it was accidental. There are many problems and cases that wont be able to fir the scientific method.
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In conclusion, this book is pretty interesting. I learned alot from a lot of the chapters and was able to understand what other people believe and why. Although alot of chapters sounded more like venting about the problem and just very confusing it was fun trying to partially understand. I would recommend this book if you like learning about new things and many problems where you believed or not believed to be true.

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