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Such emergent properties are ubiquitous and robust in physics and in many bottomm areas think of ants in an ant colony, or transistors in a computerand--Laughlin would argue--deserve to be considered on equal footing with the "fundamental" laws governing elementary particles. Bigger objects A bottom down universe review cats, toasters, people, the sun, galactic superclusters -- are just second-order consequences. Being a leader in this field and a Nobel prize-winner, Laughlin seems bottpm he would be a great person to write such a book. Or, with Men who suck own cocks metaphor, The generation of uncertainty by amplifiers resembles the generation of vacuousness by news organizations when there is no news. Sort order. The atoms or quarks or dodn or "strings," if you follow the latest trendy theories are what count, while you and I are just ephemera.
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Computers are machines that are designed and programmed to do specific Panama homosexual. Overall, top-down is commonly associated with the word macro or macroeconomics. I recommend chapter four highly. Add to Cart. Richard Glyn Dow, London N4 It is a misconception to Ready cooked shrimp that there are right A bottom down universe review wrong places and right and wrong times, and that fate A bottom down universe review dictate which of these we experience. Their "general theory" is becoming obsolete and is a barrier to further scientific progress, but instead of standing up to the challenge, questioning the basics and looking at our Universe form a new prospective, they just squabble among themselves for a place at the top, hoping to achieve a Place in History. Though there are numerous cartoonish sketches, many seeming pointless, a few diagrams or charts illustrating some of the science to which he alludes would have been greatly appreciated. He is unrepentantly scornful of those he perceives as fools. Simon Hubert, Hove If the universe goes down the plug-hole clockwise, it's the right way up. Alternatively, when an economy is contracting or in a recession, top-down investors will usually overweight to havens and staples. Emergence is not just kniverse biology, social sciences and the weather, it's about physics. These types of investors usually want to balance consumer discretionary investing against staples depending on the current economy. These funds can have a global univetse domestic A bottom down universe review which also increases the complexity of the scope. I got this as a gift for a local associate who claims innocence of the cutting edge of physics, and the controversies that play out there. There is one glaring exception to what I wrote before, namely chapter four, which explains the mysteries of standard phase transistions in materials, especially water.
My opinion of the book was much higher than that of the other members of the group.
- Therefore, whether the universe is the right way up or not is decided by the laws of physics at any given location, and who are we to argue with that?
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- Top-down and bottom-up approaches are methods used to analyze and choose securities.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Not since Feynman has a Nobel physicist written with as much panache as Laughlin. He proposes a new way of understanding fundamental laws of science. The edges of science lie in the 1st nanofraction of a second of existence or in realms so sma Not since Feynman has a Nobel physicist written with as much panache as Laughlin.
But we haven't reached the end of science-only the end of reductionist thinking. Considering the world of emergent properties instead, suddenly the deepest mysteries are as close as the nearest ice cube or salt grain. They're properties of large assemblages of matter. When their exactness is examined too closely, it vanishes into nothing. It's a cosmos teeming with natural phenomena still to be discovered. This mind-altering book shows a surprising, beautifully mysterious new world.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. Sort order. Mar 09, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: physics , philosophy , memoirs , science. This is a delightful book by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
For example, Newton's Laws are not an approximation to quantum mechanics. They emerge from quantum mechanics, when the quantity of matter involved becauses sufficiently large; they are a "collective organizational phenomenon".
Robert Laughlin gives lots and lots of examples of this sort of thing. For example, he writes about his father, At one point he became exasperated with the barrage of ignorant statements about reality from the kids and explained, barely controlling himself, that logic was the systematic method of committing error. Laughlin does not give complete descriptions of the physics concepts that he discusses; instead, brings up various issues where he disagrees with the majority of physicists.
Then he uses metaphors to help the layman understand the issue. For example, in reference to an aggregation of atoms, he writes, One might compare this phenomenon with a yet-to-be-filmed Stephen Spielberg movie in which a huge number of little ghosts lock arms and, in doing so, become corporeal.
Or, with another metaphor, The generation of uncertainty by amplifiers resembles the generation of vacuousness by news organizations when there is no news. Laughlin compares the dilemma of students in understanding superconductivity to contestants on the "Jeopardy" game, he compares the energy gap in a superconducting state to Cecil B. And my favorite, Nuclear force is typically a student's first encounter with the idea that empty space is not really empty.
Coming to grips with this fact--a physics rite of passage--is simultaneously thrilling and upsetting, like sneaking off to a dark place with your girlfriend and discovering that you have mistakenly gone to the bunkhouse. While the book is very entertaining, Laughlin does not give enough of the background for each of the issues he brings up, for a non-specialist to truly understand it.
But the lighthearted humor, the fantastic metaphors and his keen perceptions about physics make this a great book. Nov 08, Rick Vigorous rated it it was ok. Very roughly, modern physics research falls under three headings: particle physics, focusing on the very small think Higgs boson ; astrophysics, focusing on the very large galaxies and stuff ; and condensed matter physics--known to the previous generation as solid state physics--focusing on the the very many very many particles, that is, as in a piece of metal or a cup of fluid.
Being a condensed matter physicist myself, I'm particularly attached to the third of these areas. But while there Very roughly, modern physics research falls under three headings: particle physics, focusing on the very small think Higgs boson ; astrophysics, focusing on the very large galaxies and stuff ; and condensed matter physics--known to the previous generation as solid state physics--focusing on the the very many very many particles, that is, as in a piece of metal or a cup of fluid.
I was therefore excited to learn about this book, which seemed like it might be able to fill that gap. The core idea of this book is that new properties can emerge in systems of many interacting constituents, even though the constituents may not exhibit these properties individually.
This happens, for example, when we talk about a liquid flowing or a gas having pressure. These things are possible through collective behavior, even though single molecules can't flow or have pressure.
Such emergent properties are ubiquitous and robust in physics and in many other areas think of ants in an ant colony, or transistors in a computer , and--Laughlin would argue--deserve to be considered on equal footing with the "fundamental" laws governing elementary particles.
Being a leader in this field and a Nobel prize-winner, Laughlin seems like he would be a great person to write such a book. I have a tremendous respect for Laughlin's work as a physicist.
I've read many of his scientific papers and have found them to be models of clear and creative scientific thinking. And while the ideas discussed in this book are beautiful and important, the exposition just doesn't do them justice. Laughlin seems to have thought that the best way to connect with lay readers about difficult ideas would be to unleash his inner stand-up comedian.
This sort of thing wouldn't be so bad if it only occurred occasionally, but the fact that every page in the book is full of this stuff. On top of this are the longer digressions that at times make the book seem like an exercise in free association.
In order to illustrate the point that "things aren't always what they seem," the author launches into a page-long anecdote about the time when his college roommate kept a dead animal--which seemed to be a rabbit, but turned out not to be--in the kitchen cupboard. Overall, this book gets high marks for the main ideas, but low marks for the execution. Apparently the Brief History of Time for condensed matter physics is still waiting to be written.
View 1 comment. Mar 29, Chris rated it did not like it. I slogged through the book -- not that it was long or difficult to read -- and came out the other side realizing I hadn't learned anything. That's not fair. Perhaps in an attempt to appeal to the fragile mentality of the common man, the Nobel Laureate author fails to provide much substance.
To me it came across as a long-winded and weakly supported diatribe of how certain areas all things reductionist of scientific research are ultimately useless and a waste of taxpayers' money yes, he u I slogged through the book -- not that it was long or difficult to read -- and came out the other side realizing I hadn't learned anything.
To me it came across as a long-winded and weakly supported diatribe of how certain areas all things reductionist of scientific research are ultimately useless and a waste of taxpayers' money yes, he used that phrase and we need to focus our attention on seeking emergent properties but productive forms of researching this are what exactly? One thing I found really annoying was each chapter contained a sprinkling of analogies plus one quaint, detailed personal anecdote typically involving hiking in the harsh yet beautiful mountains of the American west that felt totally isolated from the chapter's subject matter.
Uh, what was the point of telling us that story, other than demonstrating your outdoorsiness? It happened frequently on a smaller scale too. Rather than help form connecting bridges between points, the analogies and examples seemed to push the islands of topical material farther apart. My overall impression: windbag on a soapbox telling us to throw away the microscopes and look at the big picture. Aug 25, Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing. Physics is organizing the first block party.
Laughlin, a Nobel Prize winner in physics is able to write like a person who's writing for other humanoids. This is a scholar who can call the sea what it is As only Stephen Hawking has before, the heady realm of advanced academics is delivered directly, and understandably, to our heads.
Physics can be fun? Go figure. Sep 16, Karen Lee rated it really liked it. The book is centered around one idea: Emergence. What is emergence? It is a physical principle of organization which explains how possibly complex phenomena arise from how different constituents are organized, not the properties of the parts within.
Although he makes no explanation for where suc The book is centered around one idea: Emergence. Although he makes no explanation for where such principles of organization may arise from, as would probably be impossible anyone to do without speculation, Laughlin provides illustrations from physical science to help the reader understand this concept. The laws of electron motion begets the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry, which beget the laws of crystallization, which beget the laws of rigidity and plasticity, which beget the laws of engineering.
The natural world is thus an interdependent hierarchy of descent. Nature is regulated not only by a microscopic rule base but by powerful and general principles of organization.
To support his view, Laughlin provides physical examples about the ideal gas law, semiconductor physics, phase transitions, astronomy. Frankly, it is hard to wrap your brain around these, but this is a good argument for the case that the simplest and basic physical laws come not from the parts, but the whole.
A fantastic read. Many phrases I highlighted, but this last one I like: "While supernatural intervention is always difficult to disprove categorically, we know for certain that there is no need for it at this level, and that all of these miraculous behaviors can be accounted for as spontaneous organizational phenomena that descend from underlying law".
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A bottom down universe review. more on this story
I recommend chapter four highly. But you don't need to buy the book to read it as it is included in the online version of the book, which an internet search will turn up quickly.
As with Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science", this is a book with valuable philosophical insights, which many reviewers dismiss because those are not physical insights. Hence the mix of 5 and 1 star reviews. In other words, don't come here to learn physics, but if you like "why" questions, then read this book. A book that makes people angry is not necessarily revolutionary, but revolutionary books do make people angry.
This book was very difficult to rate, starwise. While reading it, there were times I felt like giving it one star and other times I could have given it five stars, so in the end, I split the difference and gave it a three. Laughlin is a Nobel laureate -- no mean feat -- and any book written by a Nobel laureate is worth reading. And so this one was. Unfortunately, Dr.
This was very annoying, and despite the many brilliant and profound points he made in the book, I often felt like putting it down and giving it a one-star rating. There were times that Dr.
Laughlin lapsed into sciencese, apparently assuming that his readers are all up-to-speed on solid-state physics. For example, Chapter 9 "The Nuclear Family" started out fairly slow and was easy to grasp if you have a basic understanding of nuclear physics. However, as the topic shifted over to comparing the vacuum of space to cold-phase solids -- Dr.
Laughlin's specialty -- the terminology became increasingly abstruse. But unlike some of the reviewers of this book, I wouldn't say that Dr. Laughlin is a "bad writer.
I found the best way to handle this issue was to skim over the irrelevant and obtuse parts and get to the meat. The underlying premise "A Different Universe" is that following reductionism leads to a dead end, which is a premise I strongly agree with. The opposite of reductionism is emergence, which can be summarized as follows: 1 The behavior of the whole cannot be deduced by studying its parts, and 2 so-called physical laws are merely descriptions of self-organized behavior of systems, and 3 these laws are exact, mathematical, and yet are insensitive to the underlying operation of the parts.
The validity of this conjecture cannot be proven, but it can be inferred from through the many illustrations that are presented in the book. The ramifications of this are profound. It means, first of all, that there is a fundamental epistemological barrier to understanding what physical laws are really based on. In other words, all of our current theories are wrong. In fact, even if we embrace the principle of emergence, all we can ever really know about the universe is what we can measure.
Therefore, it is silly and preposterous to extrapolate laws beyond the limits of our measurements; e. Building artificial intelligence based on conventional computer technology is therefore a fools errand.
Computers are machines that are designed and programmed to do specific things. No matter how big or fast the computer is, it will only do what it is programmed to do. If consciousness is indeed an emergent property, it would also, by definition, be insensitive to the underlying physics from which it emerged. So even if carbon-based lifeforms were not present in the universe, life and even intelligence could in principle emerge from a completely different underlying physical process, perhaps in a self-organized plasma.
The possibility of intelligence without carbon-based life should give proponents of a questionable "finely-tuned universe" based on the silly "anthropic principle" second thoughts. The final chapter is entitled "The Emergent Age," offering a preview of where science is headed. Even though reductionism is obsolete, old habits die hard.
Like false Greek gods, string theory, cosmic inflation, dark matter, and so forth, have been elevated to the pantheon of defective theories, where they will continued to be worshiped for a while. This won't stop technology, however. Scientists will still make new measurements, observe new phenomena, and discover new "laws" that describe them, and engineers will take this new knowledge and turn it into useful things.
Despite my lukewarm three-star rating, I would still recommend reading "A Different Universe". There are some true gems of wisdom scattered therein. There is no question, Professor Robert Laughlin is a master of his field. This is apparent from the few gems of science he offers and not simply because he shares a Nobel Prize for his mathematical description of the fractional quantum Hall effect.
Though there are numerous cartoonish sketches, many seeming pointless, a few diagrams or charts illustrating some of the science to which he alludes would have been greatly appreciated. Indeed, he posits, it is in understanding such emergent qualities that the future of science lies. Where I take issue is that much of Professor Laughlin's offering consists of endless personal reminiscences and floundering attempts at humor, many having little to do with science.
Where's the beef? I read this book with fruition. The author develope his ideas in such a way that one can connect different fields of knowledge or the evolution of different systems natural or artificial ones by a unique phenomenon: emergence. I would say that the ideas are given only in a phenomenological way which is a first step in the understanding of a given phenomenon. One person found this helpful. I just finished reading it and did learn some interesting things about condensed matter physics — but only got 1.
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The BUR will serve as a road map for these questions. The BUR also focuses on combating cybersecurity threats, ensuring resilience to all hazards, and the critical need to reform our immigration system. It also provides new emphasis on the importance of enhancing the security and resilience of the global systems that are responsible for the movement of people and goods across our borders. Finally, the review lays a foundation for improving Departmental operations and management and increasing accountability for the resources entrusted to the Department.
Skip to Main Content. The BUR report focuses on the following questions: How can we strengthen the Department's performance in each of the five mission areas?
My opinion of the book was much higher than that of the other members of the group. For their opinions see our group review.
I have complex feelings about the book. Both positive and negative; sometimes a bit of each at the same time. The book gives the impression of being a series of conversations. This could be considered a virtue, or a defect, depending on your point of view. I lean toward the negative on this, but I understand that it is perhaps wise in a book intended for a wide audience.
The references to many specific principles in solid-state physics in the book are too hard. At least for me! The references often seem to be at a level appropriate for university physics students, and sometimes maybe only for grad students. Laughlin admits that he is sometimes way too demanding of his students.
When it comes to solid-state physics he seems to me to also be way too demanding of his readers. Some of the physics, and especially chapter 9, however, is fascinating. This chapter really made me wish that I had the time and youthful mental capability necessary to seriously study physics.
His emphasis on phase states of matter is useful and significant. I think he demonstrated that point. The anti-reductionist viewpoint is welcome. He merely argued that the present one-sided obsession with reductionism is unjustified and counterproductive. Another central theme—that physics and all of science—is actually a series of emergent, collective laws is grossly under developed!
There is a bit of a standard discussion of this near the end of the book, but not to the degree there should be. There are many fine and profound comments in the book, such as p. It is the reason we can live without understanding the ultimate secrets of the universe.
Some other things which may well be profound require some rereading and rethinking on my part. There seemed to be a hint of mysticism in his generally good comments on this topic. I agree with many of his biases or pet peeves though not all of them, of course!
I call them biases, but I actually think that he at least alluded to some very good arguments against these various fallacious ideas.
Politically the book has some serious defects, but also occasional dialectical insights. His brief defense of physicists working on nuclear weapons is self-serving and disgusting.
He fails to understand that while this is an explanation, it is not an excuse! There are other quite dialectical comments in the book too. For me, it takes only one or two profound comments to make any book worthwhile, and this book had quite a number of them! Yes, the book has defects. Yes, some of the physics went over my head and I only got part of what is probably in there out of it. It is probably not a book for everybody, not even for those with a casual interest in science.
Someday it will all be much clearer, but for now the world is still working things out.