Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marcelo Gleiser: "The Island of Knowledge" (Talks at Google)

http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/t/the-island-of-knowledge/9780465031719_custom-ba4b9eed077161ba335114b225768736fcf4297c-s6-c30.jpg

Marcelo Gleiser stopped by Google recently to discuss his new book, The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning (2014). His previous books are The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang (2005), The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Science and the End of the World (2002), and A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe (2010).

Here is the publisher's ad copy for the new book from Amazon:
Do all questions have answers? How much can we know about the world? Is there such a thing as an ultimate truth?

To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” In The Island of Knowledge, physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of existence. In so doing, he reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited.

These limits to our knowledge arise both from our tools of exploration and from the nature of physical reality: the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem, and our own limitations as an intelligent species. Recognizing limits in this way, Gleiser argues, is not a deterrent to progress or a surrendering to religion. Rather, it frees us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it. Science can and must go on, but recognizing its limits reveals its true mission: to know the universe is to know ourselves.

Telling the dramatic story of our quest for understanding, The Island of Knowledge offers a highly original exploration of the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers in history, from Plato to Einstein, and how they affect us today. An authoritative, broad-ranging intellectual history of our search for knowledge and meaning, The Island of Knowledge is a unique view of what it means to be human in a universe filled with mystery.
Gleiser is a smart and entertaining guy, so this is likely a fun read.

Marcelo Gleiser: "The Island of Knowledge"


Talks at Google
Published on Oct 15, 2014



In The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning (2014), he traces our search for answers to some of the most fundamental questions of existence and reaches a provocative conclusion: the main tool we use to find answers – science – is fundamentally limited. Yet recognizing science’s limits, Gleiser argues, is not a deterrent to progress or a surrendering to religion. Instead, it frees us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it.

Marcelo Gleiser is Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College and the author of three previous books, The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang (2005), The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Science and the End of the World (2002), and A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe (2010).
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