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Central Library | Q175 .A53 2002 | Adult Non-Fiction | Non-Fiction Area | Searching... |

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### Reviews 1

### Choice Review

This unique book is magnificently written with wit and penetrating insights by mathematical physicist Altmann (emer., Univ. of Oxford, UK). He succeeds in showing how many scientists think and operate with logic and philosophy in their quest to better understand the behavior of nature at fundamental levels. This book bridges the gap between science and philosophy for the first time in a style that invites all readers into the struggle to make sense of the universe. Physical concepts are enunciated correctly, with a genuine appreciation for their values seldom achieved by writers. The emphasis is not on detailed scientific knowledge, but on the flexibility of the mind necessary for doing science. Some of the key ideas in logic, philosophy, relativity, quantum mechanics, and other great concepts are cleverly presented in remarkably clear prose suited for most professionals. The final chapter opens inquiry into the question given in the book's title. Marvelous footnotes answer most questions posed by active readers; great index; comprehensive bibliography. Graduate students through professionals. F. Potter formerly, University of California, Irvine

### Table of Contents

Preface | p. 19 |

Acknowledgments | p. 25 |

1. What This Book is All About | p. 27 |

Is Science in Crisis? | p. 29 |

Metaphysics and Meta-physics | p. 30 |

Two Views of Nature | p. 33 |

2. Words and Necessity | p. 37 |

A Rose Is a Rose: Tautology | p. 38 |

Analytic Propositions | p. 38 |

Synthetic Propositions | p. 40 |

Necessity | p. 41 |

The A Priori | p. 42 |

Positional Predicates | p. 43 |

Coda | p. 44 |

Notes | p. 45 |

3. How to Deal with Properties by Logic | p. 47 |

Toward Laws of Nature: Properties | p. 49 |

Ravens Are Black: Material Implication | p. 50 |

Truth Tables and the Logical Functions | p. 51 |

The Universal Quantifier: Induction | p. 54 |

Ravens Are Black: Paradoxes of Confirmation | p. 56 |

What Have We Learned about Induction? | p. 60 |

Properties | p. 61 |

Useful Untruths: Counterfactuals | p. 62 |

Coda | p. 65 |

Notes | p. 66 |

4. Of Hume and Poached Eggs: Causality | p. 69 |

The Sun Heats the Stone | p. 71 |

Hume the Skeptical | p. 73 |

Powers, Efficient Causes, and Other Pretty Ideas | p. 74 |

Causal Chains | p. 76 |

Dispositions | p. 79 |

The Poached Egg at Last: Hume on Custom or Habit | p. 82 |

A Brief History of the World | p. 83 |

Evolution and the Principle of Natural Selection | p. 85 |

Back to Hume's Custom or Habit | p. 87 |

The Anthropic Argument (Anthropic Principle) | p. 89 |

Necessity Again | p. 91 |

The Logic of Causal Statements in Science | p. 92 |

Facts and How to Digest Them | p. 95 |

Two Great Normative Meta-physical Principles | p. 97 |

Coda | p. 100 |

Notes | p. 104 |

5. Virtuous Circles: Length and Time | p. 113 |

The Ontology of Time | p. 114 |

How to Measure Space and Time | p. 116 |

The Timescale | p. 118 |

Conventionalism and Virtuous Circles | p. 122 |

The Causal Timescale | p. 124 |

Coda | p. 126 |

Notes | p. 126 |

6. Virtuous Circles: States | p. 129 |

What Is a State? | p. 130 |

Newton on Newton's Second Law | p. 133 |

Time-Independent States and State Functions | p. 141 |

Newton's Third Law: Action and Reaction | p. 142 |

Are Old Laws Dead? | p. 143 |

The Importance of Being Surprised | p. 145 |

Coda | p. 147 |

Notes | p. 148 |

7. Time Held Me Grue: Projection and Prediction | p. 151 |

The New Paradox of Induction: Grue and Bleen | p. 152 |

Virbonos | p. 153 |

More Terran Worries | p. 155 |

Resolution of the Paradox: Entrenchment | p. 156 |

Prediction or Prophecy? | p. 159 |

Coda | p. 160 |

Notes | p. 161 |

8. The Laws of Nature | p. 165 |

The Formalities of Lawlikeness | p. 167 |

How to Use Logic to Formulate Laws. Causation | p. 169 |

More about Logic and Laws. Principle of Symmetry | p. 171 |

Symmetry: Not Paradoxes but Noble Blunders | p. 176 |

The Principle of Sufficient Reason | p. 183 |

The Great Meta-physical Principles | p. 184 |

Are There Laws of Nature? | p. 189 |

Are the Laws of Nature True? | p. 191 |

How to Hallucinate Inexpensively | p. 197 |

Coda | p. 198 |

Notes | p. 200 |

9. Models: How to Handle Space and Time | p. 203 |

Models and Graining | p. 204 |

Caution about Limit Taking | p. 208 |

Infinitesimals Are Not as Small as You Think | p. 208 |

Not So Much a Paradox as Exquisite Mischief Making | p. 210 |

How Not to Be Mesmerized by Mathematics | p. 214 |

The Continuum | p. 216 |

Coda | p. 217 |

Envoy. A Dialogue | p. 218 |

Notes | p. 220 |

10. Is There A Scientific Method? | p. 223 |

The Pioneers of the Scientific Method | p. 225 |

The Visionaries | p. 228 |

Instrumentalism | p. 231 |

Popper and After | p. 232 |

The Real Thing: The Scientist's Aims | p. 241 |

Methods, Models, and Explanations | p. 242 |

Coda | p. 246 |

Notes | p. 249 |

11. Nature's Tool-Kit: Space, Time, Fields | p. 253 |

Space: Newton, Leibniz, Mach | p. 255 |

Waves versus Particles | p. 256 |

Fields | p. 261 |

Maxwell and Maxwell's Equations | p. 263 |

Newton's Equations and Galileo's Relativity Principle | p. 265 |

Einstein the Conservator | p. 266 |

The Velocity of Light as a Limiting Case | p. 269 |

Relativistic Time: Synchronization of Clocks | p. 270 |

More about Time: Simultaneity of Distant Events | p. 271 |

Time Scales for Moving Frames | p. 273 |

Contraction of Lengths | p. 273 |

Spacetime and Applied Ontology | p. 275 |

Spacetime and Causality | p. 279 |

General Relativity and Geometry | p. 281 |

The Illusions of Conventionalism | p. 284 |

The Ether Is Dead: Long Live the Vacuum | p. 286 |

Vacuum and Fields | p. 288 |

Entrenchment and Common Sense | p. 292 |

Coda | p. 293 |

Notes | p. 295 |

12. Time's Arrow | p. 301 |

Language and Time | p. 302 |

Time's Symmetries in Mechanics | p. 303 |

The Truth about Life: Friction | p. 304 |

Order and the Arrow of Time | p. 306 |

More about Friction | p. 308 |

Heat, Thermodynamics, and Disorder | p. 309 |

Entropy and the Maxwell Gas Model | p. 312 |

Identity and Naming | p. 314 |

Boltzmann's Cup of Tea | p. 316 |

Entropy, Disorder, and the Second Principle | p. 320 |

Boltzmann and After | p. 321 |

The Cosmological Arrow of Time | p. 323 |

Contra Loschmidt: All Is Revealed | p. 324 |

The Psychological Arrow of Time | p. 327 |

Coda | p. 329 |

Notes | p. 330 |

13. Nature's Lottery: Probability | p. 333 |

An Approximation to History | p. 335 |

Two Views of Probability | p. 336 |

Is Probability A Priori? | p. 339 |

D'Alembert's Blunder and Insight | p. 341 |

The Monte Carlo Fallacy | p. 344 |

Frequencies | p. 347 |

The Ergodic Principle: Buridan's Ass Goes Places | p. 350 |

Random Sequences | p. 353 |

The Bare Bones of the Mathematics of Probability | p. 355 |

The Laws of Large Numbers | p. 361 |

The Frequency Definition of Probability | p. 362 |

Statistical Probability | p. 363 |

Probability in Classical Physics | p. 365 |

Coda | p. 366 |

Notes | p. 366 |

14. Mathematical Heavens and Other Landscapes | p. 369 |

Empiricism and Belief | p. 371 |

Universals and Platonism | p. 371 |

Mathematical Platonism | p. 373 |

Intuitionism and Mathematical Proof | p. 380 |

Sets and Natural Numbers | p. 384 |

Formalism | p. 390 |

Self-Reference and Its Paradoxes | p. 392 |

Metalanguages | p. 393 |

The Catalogue Paradox | p. 395 |

The Godel Theorem: A First Shot | p. 397 |

Godel Numbers | p. 401 |

A Second Shot at Godel's Proof | p. 402 |

Godel and Platonism | p. 405 |

The Anti-Platonists Contra Godel | p. 406 |

More Godelian Dreams: Human Mind versus Machines | p. 410 |

A Case Study: Complex Numbers | p. 414 |

An Interlude | p. 422 |

Is There a Largest Integer? | p. 423 |

A Tale of Two Worlds | p. 427 |

Mathematics as an Empirical Science | p. 428 |

The Unreasonable Worries on the Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences | p. 430 |

A Tail End: Chasing the Infinity | p. 433 |

Coda | p. 436 |

Notes | p. 438 |

15. Peeping Tom Peeping at the Microworld | p. 445 |

Quanta and the Infirmities of Waves and Particles | p. 449 |

The Uncertainty Principle | p. 456 |

Trajectories, Histories, and Complementarity | p. 459 |

The Two-Slit Experiment. Interference | p. 462 |

Delayed Choice Experiment | p. 465 |

Measurements and Eigenstates | p. 468 |

Variables and Operators | p. 469 |

Commutation and the Uncertainty Principle | p. 472 |

The Uncertainty Principle and Probability Distributions | p. 473 |

Coda | p. 475 |

Notes | p. 475 |

16. Quantum States | p. 479 |

The State Function | p. 480 |

The Schrodinger Equations | p. 482 |

The Meaning of the Probabilities | p. 484 |

Stationary States and Quantization | p. 485 |

Eigenstates and the Principle of Superposition | p. 487 |

More about the Physical Meaning of the Superposition Principle | p. 495 |

Stationary States and Quantum Jumps | p. 497 |

Identical Particles and the Pauli Principle | p. 498 |

Back to Philosophy: Identity and Naming | p. 500 |

Coda | p. 504 |

Notes | p. 505 |

17. The Great Quantum Muddle | p. 509 |

The Beginnings | p. 512 |

The Interpretation of the Wave Function | p. 513 |

Why Heisenberg Cried: Bohr's Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics | p. 516 |

Einstein, Probability, and the Breakdown of Determinism | p. 517 |

Quantum Mechanics a la Popper | p. 519 |

Bohr: Complementarity and All That | p. 519 |

Einstein versus Bohr: First Rounds of the Dogfight | p. 522 |

The Superposition Principle and the Ignorance Interpretation | p. 522 |

Schrodinger's Cheshire Cat | p. 525 |

Coda | p. 530 |

Notes | p. 531 |

18. Is the Quantal Description of Reality Complete? | p. 535 |

The Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen So-called Paradox | p. 536 |

An Introduction to the New Results about Action at a Distance | p. 539 |

Crucial Experiment: Two Nonparallel Analyzers. Bell's Inequality | p. 546 |

Action at a Distance and Metaphysics | p. 552 |

Coda | p. 554 |

Notes | p. 554 |

19. Wave Function Reduction and Dream Quantum Worlds | p. 557 |

Reduction of the Wave Function. Decoherence | p. 558 |

Measurement | p. 561 |

The Time Arrow in Quantum Mechanics | p. 562 |

Bohm's So-called Ontological Theory of Quantum Mechanics | p. 564 |

The Many-Worlds Interpretation | p. 567 |

Coda | p. 569 |

Postil | p. 569 |

Notes | p. 570 |

20. Is Nature Supernatural? | p. 573 |

Three Views of Nature | p. 575 |

The Abolition of Matter | p. 579 |

The Invention of the Mind | p. 581 |

The Case against Physicalism: Dualism | p. 584 |

What Dr. Johnson Should Have Said: The Defense of Scientific Realism | p. 591 |

Where Has the Spirit Gone? | p. 593 |

Back to Mental States | p. 596 |

Science and Nature | p. 598 |

The Present and Future of Science | p. 611 |

Finale. Science and Belief | p. 613 |

Notes | p. 623 |

Glossary | p. 629 |

Bibliography | p. 631 |

Index | p. 657 |