The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin

The Trouble with Physics

In this groundbreaking book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that physics — the basis for all other sciences — has lost its way. For more than two centuries, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly. But today, despite our best efforts, we know nothing more about these laws than we knew in the 1970s. Why is physics suddenly in trouble? And what can we do about it?One of the major problems, according to Smo...

Details The Trouble with Physics

TitleThe Trouble with Physics
Release DateSep 19th, 2006
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreScience, Physics, Nonfiction, Popular Science, Philosophy, History, Reference, Sociology, Audiobook, Quantum Mechanics

Reviews The Trouble with Physics

  • Manny
    An interesting and well-written book. Smolin started out wanting to write about the sociology of research funding in the US. He is extremely worried about the fact that it has become difficult for young researchers to get money to pursue novel ideas, with most funding concentrated on a small number of mainstream projects which are regarded as "safe". In many fields, this has already been taken to the logical extreme, with nearly everything focuss...
  • notgettingenough
    If you are looking for an uptodate discussion of the controversy of string theory and whether it's a cult or just a hoax, The Multidisciplinarian has posted a nice essay complete with lots of further reading: The Trouble with Strings. One of the things Smolin discusses is the sociology of string theory. The Multidisciplinarian comments: A telling example of the tendency for string theory to exclude rivals comes from a 2004 exchange on the sci.phy...
  • David
    It is well known now, that a very large cadre of talent in theoretical physics has been working on string theory. The theory solves a lot of problems in physics, and Lee theoretical physicist Lee Smolin has published a number of papers on the subject. The problem is that, the theory does not make any predictions that might allow it to be "falsifiable". So, according to my definition of a theory--a scientific idea that is supported by much observa...
  • Trevor
    Manny got me to read this book (admittedly it has taken me a while to get around to it) not so much with this review here, but rather with the trouble I was having with reading another book on string theory that had maths that was well over my head and that I abandoned in despair. I have a negative gut reaction to string theory – it sounds like crap to me – and so books that confirm my gut reaction are...
  • Mohamed al-Jamri
    هذا هو أحد أفضل كتب الفيزياء التي قرأتها، بل تستطيع أن تقول أن به الكثير من الفلسفة وعلم الاجتماع أيضًا وهو محفز على التفكير ويضعك في الصورة الكاملة لما يحدث في عالم الاكتشافات الفيزيائيةيبدأ الكاتب بمقدمة قوية ولكن حزينة، فهو يقول أن التقدم العل...
  • Manuel Antão
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.All Much Ado about Nothing: “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin “The Weinberg-Salam model requires that the Higgs field exist and that it manifest itself as the new elementary particle called the Higgs boson, which carries the force associated with the Higgs field. Of all the predictions required by the unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces, only this one has not...
  • Rob
    I first came across The Trouble with Physics when Richard mentioned Manny's excellent review in a comment on my review of The Elegant Universe. I left The Elegant Universe feeling invigorated about physics [1] but sour on string theory.Simply put, for as elegant as string theorists claimed that string theory was, something (everything?) about it seemed... not quite right. There was a "too good to be true" element to it, but beyond that, it did no...
  • Mohamed IBrahim
    صرخة جريئة من عاام فيزياء نظرية مرموقة حول الأزمة الحالية للفيزياء النظرية، رغم ان الأمور قد تغيرت كثيراً منذ كتابة هذا الكتاب.نسخة إلكترونية
  • Marcus
    This is possibly the best physics book I've ever read. Most physics books acknowledge that there are certain unknowns such as dark matter or certain aspects of string theory, but they all cleverly hide the real, and somewhat desperate, situation with contemporary physics. It's rare to find someone in any field who is willing to say "despite appearances, we don't know really what's up." Smolin does exactly that. He argues that we are in the slowes...
  • Szplug
    As to the content of this exceedingly excellent examination of the state of modern theoretical physics through the eyes of a deeply-learned and concerned practitioner, the reviews by Manny and Rob are both superb and cover all of the bases with flair.If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd run with the math skills I had garnered back in the day together with a speculative bent honed whilst seated, chin-in-hand, upon the toilet, and try t...
  • M.L. Rudolph
    2006. Whoa. Not for the faint of heart. You gotta love your fermions and your gluons. And you need to appreciate a good brane.It took me two months to work my way through this book. Pecking away. I'm not a scientist, by far, and I plodded through determined to see what I could learn. I'm glad I did.It was good to read that the world of physics is just as screwy as any other corporate grouping. Suffering from groupthink, careerists, and ladder-cli...
  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    This book should actually be called the trouble with string theory :) Most of you know that I am a massive Brian Greene fan and absolutely love my world "stringy" even superly so. I find string theory to have an energy and power that sparks the imagination and excites the theorist in all of us. Having said that I tried to take an objective view when reading through Smolins work and felt that he laid out his arguments (not necessarily against it b...
  • Richard Thompson
    It is very hard in writing a popular book about physics to strike the right balance between rigorous explanation and appeal to a broad audience. From the favorable Goodreads reviews, it is evident that a lot of people think that Smolin has struck the right balance here, but not for me. There is just too much hand waving in this book for my taste. He trots out scientists and their theories like characters in an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical -- "Hi, I...
  • Dr M
    Smolin's polemic is often misconstrued as a criticism of superstring theory as a physical theory. Indeed Smolin is harsh on string theory, but not because it is a bad theory per se, but because the string-theory community provides a prime example of the problem Smolin is really addressing, namely how we do theoretical physics in the first place. Smolin argues that theoretical physics (at least where foundational issues of quantum physics, gravity...
  • DJ
    It is obvious that Lee Smolin cares deeply and sincerely about the future of his field of physics. I read this with the intent to get a balanced view of string theory (having already read Brian Greene’s gushing pro-string theory book ‘The Elegant Universe’) but got so much more. Smolin’s book offers a deeper look at scientific history, culture, and philosophy as well.I highly recommend this book to anyone who: * wants an overview of the c...
  • Robert
    Here's a book that is good but could be better.It has the general aim of explaining the current state of fundamental physics, first in terms of the physics itself and second in terms of how it is practised (with particular reference to the USA). THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICYSee the complete review here:
  • John
    I really liked this book. I've been curious for years about what all the fuss was about, regarding string theory. I've watched a few shows on TV that had string theorists that tried to explain it, like Brian Greene, but they always seemed to just talk around it with flowery language, never explaining the nuts and bolts of how exactly it was the "theory of everything". Lee Smolin does a good job of showing that the emperor has no clothes. If he is...
  • Nikki
    I came out of reading this book with a pleasing illusion that I understood something of the state of modern physics. Smolin’s style worked for me in explaining things well enough that, for once, I wasn’t left boggling and having to reread pages over and over again to cram the concepts into my head. Perhaps it helps that he’s not an inveterate supporter of string theory, and can explain where it doesn’t work as an explanation for our unive...
  • Justin Tapp
    To qualify my review a little better, before I read this book I read:Black Holes and Baby Universes (Stephen Hawking)The Universe in a Nutshell (Hawking)The Grand Design (Hawking)The Hidden Reality (Brian Greene)The Fabric of the Cosmos (Greene)The Elegant Universe (Greene)Lee Smolin's style is similar to Greene's in that he describes a chronological history of the development of string theory and gives simple analogies to explain complex topics....
  • Bishnu Bhatta Buttowski
    I thought Physics wasn't able to pickup girls anymore. [laugh][laugh] Nevertheless, the ending of the book was indeed something.I didn't expect some ethical and sociological aspect of Physics from this book. All I thought about was the technical aspect which covered almost two third of the book.Progression of the book:The book started off with the background of scientific revolution that kicked off since early era of Hippocrates and Aristotle exp...
  • Félix
    My rating of this fine work reflects mostly my own shortcomings in making my way through a subject that quite often was beyond my comfort zone in physics. Spoiler alert: the science has hit some formidable brick walls in terms of being able to support many years of expanding theoretical efforts with real-world experiments. Having been written before the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider, the book leaves us hanging on what has been predicted b...
  • Ericka Clouther
    The beginning of the book was about physics and was maybe a 3 as it varied between being the same old, a little above my head, and kind of a bummer. The rest of the book was a challenge to change the way we think about science in general and physics in particular. I found that section at the end more interesting.
  • Odo
  • BetseaK
    This was a worthwhile and well-intentioned critical overview of the issues troubling the field of contemporary theoretical physics, with the emphasis on the ones concerning the string theory (or rather, theories). Being among those laypersons who find the string theory somehow detached from reality and therefore hard to understand, as obvious from my review ( of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden D...
  • Jafar
    This book attempts to explain why physics is in such a sorry state, and why no new revolutionary ideas have been put forward in the past few decades – certainly nothing that can be compared with relativity or quantum physics. John Horgan said the same thing about all branches of science in The End of Science, but Smolin focuses on physics only, and he partly blames it on the string theory being fashionable and stifling other approaches to solvi...
  • Amar Pai
    If I had to summarize this book in one sentence, I would say: nothing, because I didn't understand hardly any of it. It's not the author's fault, as his pop-science explanations of recondite scientific theories and phenomena (supersymmetry, gauge theory, quantum electrodynamices, string theory obviously) seem about as clear as they could be. I just didn't have the energy to pore over the chapters trying to understand things. From what I gather, s...
  • Daphne
    Wow. This is an important work for anyone interested or concerned with the current state of science and funding. Beyond the fact that I learned more about theoretical physics and string theory here than any other pop-sci book before, I couldn't get enough of this one. I'll never be able to grasp the hardcore numbers involved in physics of this scope, but I can appreciate the theories and ideas involved. Smolin did a better job explaining it to me...
  • Kadri
    I found the first two thirds of this book mildly interesting, but the last third of it was excellent. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to start reading this book from about chapter 16, read until the end, and then go on from the actual beginning.
  • Jose Brox
    4.5/5 estrellas.La teoría de cuerdas, aunque originalmente prometedora porque parecía capaz de unificar las cuatro fuerzas fundamentales y construir una teoría del todo sencilla que explicara con un único parámetro natural el valor de los 20 parámetros del modelo estándar de partículas, se ha ido complicando más y más con el tiempo, al tratar de concretar su objetivo, sin éxito (habiendo llegado ya a las 11 dimensiones y los 105 parám...
  • Tuomas
    The book is essentially a critique of string theory, although that really only provides a framework for a broader and deeper discussion of the state of physics and science, the philosophy of science and problems in the academia. Smolin’s writing is enjoyable and I kept nodding by myself enthusiastically through most of the book. However, at times it may feel that the themes of the book are not quite connected, or they are discussed only superfi...