Impossibility: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits

This new book by John D. Barrow looks at what limits there might be to human discovery and what we might find, ultimately, to be unknowable, undoable, or unthinkable. Weaving together a tapestry of surprises, Barrow explores the frontiers of knowledge, taking in surrealism, impossible figures, time travel, paradoxes of logic and perspective, theological speculations about Beings for whom nothing is impossible -- all stimulate us to contemplate something more that what is.

With sufficient time and money at our disposal, why should we find anything impossible?

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Barrow explores the limits that may be imposed upon a full understanding of the physical Universe by constraints of technology, computes, cost, and complexity. He considers how the nature of the universe's structure prevents us from answering the deepest questions about its beginning, its structure, and its future.

The Limits of Science - A Critique of Scientism

And he delves into the deep limits imposed by the nature of knowledge itself, which have profound implications for any quest for complete knowledge. They take us into the debates over the problems of free will and consciousness. G--ouml--;del's famous theorem about our inability to capture the truths of mathematics by rules and axioms is explored to see if it has any implications for science. Please try again later. This book has become a reference for me in my own search for answers.

  1. Impossibility, The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits by John D. Barrow.
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What I didn't like about the book is that it felt to me that Mr. Barrow advances many of the same agendas of modern mainstream scientific materialism. But, if one can discriminate somewhat against the latter, the book is chock full of simply explained technical concepts. And, to the degree that Mr.

The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits

Htc Nur rated it really liked it Sep 15, Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. This is very convenient if you put the book down and only pick it up again a few months later and need a reminder what you've already read. Hi Doc, No, sorry, I don't know the book. Manish Vohra rated it it was amazing Apr 03, Either way, if you believe decoherence or not, after measurement the 'quantum thing' is not something different than it was before measurement, it's just in a different state. It is an extensive answer to the question of FQXi's essay contest "What is ultimately possible in physics?

Barrow departs from the mainstream messianic world view of scientific materialism, he does an excellent job of asking some tough questions that are less than flattering to mainstream Science and he proposes some anxious doubts as to humanities ability to overcome some of the "intractable" problems that currently plague the human species. In sum, an educational, informative, and provocative script on the state of modern science and its limits. Lastly I found myself in awe of Mr. Barrows comprehensive awareness of so many of the interdisciplinary branches of science, and his extremely sharp insight and technical abilities with respect to modern science.

One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. This book is worth reading for the quotations alone.

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The text is slower reading and the middle is a bit of a muddle, but very deep insights are scattered throughout. No fluff, good science, careful effort of a fine mind. Paradox is the source of existence, and impossibility is the source of meaning. The recognition of limits is a powerful new tool, not the "end of science".

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It allows us to transcend the spacetime metric and understand ultimate reality without the superstitious nonsense. That's my interpretation, and it's very true. The author may have meant something else, of course. Is science fast coming to an end? Can we arrive at a so-called theory of everything? Are there limits to our abilities to discover the nature of reality?

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In trying to tackle such questions, Astronomer John D. Barrow invites readers to an intriguing journey which I understood as twofold. First, it promises to show how the notion of impossibility is far subtler than everyday language suggests and to demonstrate how fundamental are the limitations to science in the broadest sense of human capability to discover and know things.

To support this contention, he serves up a menu of what seems like disjointed readings into the limits of human endeavor as demonstrated in findings in different fields such as astronomy, mathematics, psychology, economics, and others. Each of these readings, which are sub-sections of chapters, is individually interesting and the book overall is not deeply technical, -- and thus remains accessible to the truly curious generalist reader. It covers some familiar basic ideas in different fields, which all depict the notions of limits and impossibility, whether in scientific discovery or in social decision-making.

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The topics range from the technical bounds to scientific experiments, such the speed of light and difficulties of producing the extremely high temperatures not found on earth which are needed to test our version of the forces of nature, to Arrow's impossibility theorem on the inability to generate a consistent ranking of social preferences based on an aggregation of ranking of individual preferences.

Unfortunately, these sub-sections of chapters, while individually very interesting and clearly written, tend to conflate different ideas of impossibility rather than leading to a straightforward conclusion on the fundamental limitations of human endeavors of creation and discovery.

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"[An] illuminating, well-written can only wonder how Barrow can possibly make all these [concepts] fit together into a coherent story about the. Impossibility has ratings and 12 reviews. Ousama said: If you are into science/philosophy and want to know about the universe, this book is for you.

The secondary thrust of the book is on the nature of reality itself. Barrow argues that the kind of limitations he enumerates defines the universe more powerfully than a list of what we think is possible. In fact, he contends that this?

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My judgment on this book is a complex as the range of subjects the author attempts to cover. It is without doubt an intriguing set of propositions loosely connected with some related discussion on the history of scientific thought. I found the discussion of nineteenth century notions of impossibility very informative. Ultimately, the book gives a sense of having covered too much, and thus providing too little in any given area.

I confess that notwithstanding these reservations, I enjoyed reading this somewhat unusual book. Jul 20, Ami Iida rated it did not like it Shelves: You should not read it absolutely! Jan 09, Brian rated it liked it. If not, why not? Someof the arguments get a bit esoteric, but still interesting to know about. The title of the book is rather deceiving.

Impossibility: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits

It was a disappointing read. Jan 07, Scott Kaelen rated it it was amazing. When it comes to science and its limits it's impossible to beat this book. That last statement is known to be true. Ws6g rated it liked it Jul 13, Oliver Westerman rated it liked it Sep 24, Xi rated it really liked it Apr 27, Craig A rated it really liked it Aug 10, Ray Gates rated it really liked it Jun 22, Alder rated it really liked it Apr 16, Jubaraj Choudhury rated it it was amazing Aug 12, Arshed Nabeel rated it liked it Nov 30, Manish Vohra rated it it was amazing Apr 03, Oliver Smith rated it it was amazing Sep 07, Abhishek Shukla rated it it was amazing Feb 07, Wies Bijnens rated it really liked it Jul 18, Ed rated it really liked it Apr 29, Lynette rated it liked it Oct 04, Htc Nur rated it really liked it Sep 15, John rated it it was amazing Apr 20, Steven rated it did not like it Sep 04, Sagahigan rated it it was amazing May 09, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Barrow is a professor of mathematical sciences and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded the Templeton Prize for "Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities" for his "writings about the relationship between life and the universe, and the nature of human understanding [which] have c John D. He was awarded the Templeton Prize for "Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities" for his "writings about the relationship between life and the universe, and the nature of human understanding [which] have created new perspectives on questions of ultimate concern to science and religion".