Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A comprehensible universe

One of the most neglected books published in 2008 was Father George Coyne and the Reverend Michael Heller's short work, A Comprehensible Universe. Coyne and Heller provide an urbane and informative guide to the development of the scientific method, and its historical relationship to Greek philosophy and the Judaeo-Christian religion. Both authors possess a professional understanding of science and cosmology, and provide a reliable, non-technical guide to the subject matter.

I've always considered that philosophers and scientists should work in castles or palaces, hence this recollection from the Preface particularly caught my attention:

Both authors met at the Vatican Astronomical Observatory in the Pontifical Palace amidst the bucolic surroundings of Castel Gandolfo where the papal summer residence is located. During long evenings, when the autumn winds went howling through the labyrinth of corridors and staircases in the palace,...they started working on the English version of the manuscript. While working together at Castel Gandolfo it was often easier and quicker for the co-authors to communicate via e-mail than to search for one another in the vastness of the palace.

Coincidentally, there is an excellent Richard Dawkins interview with George Coyne on the former's website. Dawkins allows Coyne to speak at length, and whilst he naturally challenges some of Coyne's opinions, the interview is far from confrontational.


The Dandy Highwayman said...

That book looks interesting - I shall add it to my ever increasing list of books to buy, after which it will go on my pile of books that I own but haven't got around to reading yet.

Incidentally, what's your take on the new Bussard Fusion results?

Gordon McCabe said...

I'm no fusion expert, I'm afraid, but the notion of aneutronic fusion looks interesting.

The Dandy Highwayman said...

It's all well beyond my pre-university Physics. I'm mostly interested in it because I have fantasies of strip mining the moon for helium-3.