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The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything

Richard Morris

Some books have a hard time living up to their titles, but The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything does just fine. Physicist and writer Richard Morris seeks to explain the current state of knowledge in cosmology and subatomic physics; as if that weren't enough, he goes on to give us his take on how scientists do their work. What would have been three short works in the hands of a lesser writer becomes a challenging, enlightening book that pushes readers forward from the first page. Morris's gift for explanation is a wonder--few can get across the intricate ephemera of superstring theory without losing the audience at some point, but before we know it, we've already covered the scary stuff and are on to something new. Perhaps the most important section of the book is its last, "The Scientific Imagination." Here the author lays out his thoughts on scientific work--saying, for example, "there is no scientific method"--and shows us that research and theorizing are just as creative and playful as painting and singing. Examples from such greats as Einstein and Galileo cement his arguments and inspire the reader to see the white-coated lab technician as just another stereotypical fantasy. It may not answer the Great Questions (we're not close yet), but The Universe, the Eleventh Dimension, and Everything is a satisfying survey of what we know and how we learned it. -- Rob Lightner

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