Saturday, January 19, 2008

Goldilocks Hits the Jackpot

This is a book I want to read. It's a popular cosmology book written by Paul Davies. It's been out since last spring, before I heard of it. It's called Cosmic Jackpot in the US and The Goldilocks Enigma in the UK, --marketing to national stereotypes, perhaps?

Although the US version is subtitled The Mind of God, I don't think he really believes in "God", although it may be one way of referring to mind which arises from the universe and through a temporally symmetrical quantum causality creates a maximally mindfulness-friendly universe from the set of all possible multiverses.

I found some audio originally at Science Friday. There was also a piece on NPRnews and the SETI Institute's AWA (Are We Alone?) podcast.

The US Amazon had some reviews I thought were well-worth reading. I'll probably order it from but I like the UK Penguin cover, too. A reviewer quotes with disappointment from the end of the book:

So, how come existence? At the end of the day, all the approaches I have discussed are likely to prove unsatisfactory. In fact, in reviewing them they all seem to me to be either ridiculous or hopelessly inadequate: a unique universe that just happens to permit life by a fluke; a stupendous number of alternative parallel universes that exist for no reason; a preexisting God who is somehow self-explanatory; or a self-creating, self-explaining, self-understanding universe-with observers, entailing backward causation and teleology. Perhaps we have reached a fundamental impasse dictated by the limitations of the human intellect. The whole paraphernalia of gods and laws, of space, time, and matter, of purpose and design, rationality and absurdity, meaning and mystery, may yet be swept away and replaced by revelations as yet undreamt of.
That quote -- especially the "limitations of the human intellect"-- just makes me want to read it more. I would have said it differently: "You have to doubt that the universe is really so simple that it can be successfully modeled in fire-monkey's brain -- but keep working on it!"

Bloggers Prospero's Books and Reality Conditions have written intelligently about this book.

Go directly to the source: Paul Davies' own site. Or read some of his writing found online such as Reality in the Melting Pot or this msnbc interview.

Finally, there is his wikipedia page and an introduction to the multiverse.

Update: I ordered the "Goldilocks" British version of the book late at night on the 22nd and it was delivered early the next day! It seems the Amazon( delivery site is pretty close to us – in Urayasu. It joins my stack of other unread books.

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