The End of Certainty - Ilya Prigigone
The End of Certainty
At the heart of this book is a challenge to the bedrock of our current scientific thinking. Newton’s science, and indeed that of quantum physics contains no arrow of time. Whilst it may be true that knowing the current movement of balls on a pool table not only reveals where they will go, but also where they have come from, in contrast all around us we see a world that is deeply time irreversible. Smoke and embers do not spontaneously form into pieces of wood and fragments of glass do not leap onto tables to form the shape of a vase.

As Prigigone points out, all of our time reversible equations describe a simplification of what actually occurs in nature. We live our lives with eyes blinkered, dismissing reality as the exception to our neatly formed approximations.

Nobel laureate Prigigone does his best to avoid the mathematics as he describes ground breaking ideas that challenge and redefine science and through it our understanding of our world. In doing so it shakes the foundations of our understanding of everything and points not just to new understanding but new ways of understanding a universe governed by probabilities.

In my case at least, Prigigone did not fully succeed and there are parts of the book in which my lack of mathematical knowledge left me floundering. However don’t be put off and feel free to skip the central chapters. The key ideas all shine through even without the maths and will feed the open mind of those seeking a real understanding of the natural world.

Highly recommended

Steve Unwin
September 2011