The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning

The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning - Marcelo Gleiser This author has done it again. I read books in order to find out about our universe and our place in it, and this book does better than any other book since his last book "A Tear at the Edge of Creation". I have no idea why his books do not become instant classics and aren't more widely read. He really relates well to my way of thinking and leaves no stone untold while telling his story. And what a story he tells with this book!

Yes, we are in Plato's Cave, but we do manage to get out from time to time. It is our ignorance that leads us to knowledge. It is the things we don't know that leads to our further understanding. Our very foundations of reality are based on the constructs that we use to explain the patterns we see in data. Particles are made of matter (electrons, quarks,..) and forces. Fields describes these forces and matter and their interactions. The definition of the field is not precise but we continue to use it in our explanations.

The author covers all of the physics that's exciting to me. The Greeks lay the foundations by using intuition and argumentation but never quite adding the empirical. It becomes the void verse matter, the being verse becoming which leads to matter verse energy. Before Einstein, matter needed matter to travel through giving us the aether. The aether makes sense until it's not needed. The Morley Michelson experiments were at first explained by the natural compression of space as objects flow through the aether. The narrative's we use change as our understanding improve and our scientific definitions expand.

There is large problem with the understanding of physics. The measurement problem, the dual nature of light (wave and particle), double slit experiments, that darn dead and alive cat, and how does "spooky action at a distance" (now known as real and called Entanglement) fit into our narratives. Einstein thought reality had to be understandable and that nature at the most fundamental level had to make sense and it must be our operational levels that were failing us. David Bohm and Einstein thought there must be hidden variables to explain the cosmic complexity at the quantum level. At the local level,they have been shown to be wrong.

This book covers all of the controversies associated with the Copenhagen Interruption, and how the act of measuring does change the system being measured. At the heart of understanding nature with the current narratives we have in place there are mysteries that can't be resolved. The more we find out we don't know, the better stories we can end up telling.

Our nexus of knowledge doesn't lie outside of us, it lies within us. We our the ones who determine how we understand and when a light flickers in our cave we find another way to describe what we see.

He's got a nice section on mathematics, Godol's theorem and Turing's universal machine and the Halting Problem. Plato with his cave says math is always discovered not invented. The author will explain why it's best to think of it as being invented not discovered. The incompleteness, lack of coherence as proof for a system, and the problem of the self realization for a finite solution ('Halting Problem') leads to a better understanding of math. By the way, the author does point out for my hero, Mr. Spock, with his logical consistency and understanding will really never be attainable.

This is a book that just keeps on giving. He'll tell the reader about Higgs Bosons, Dark Matter, Dark Energy , expanding universes, what advanced AI can mean for us and a host of other just as interesting things.

Needless to say, I would strongly recommend this book and his other book available on Audible ("A Tear at the Edge of Creation"). Regretfully, this author's books seem to be ignored by the public at large, but if I can convince just one more person to read this book, I would have made the world just a little bit better!