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The Universe Within

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  332 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The most anticipated nonfiction book of the season, this year's Massey Lectures is a visionary look at the way the human mind can shape the future by world-renowned physicist Neil Turok.

Every technology we rely on today was created by the human mind, seeking to understand the universe around us. Scientific knowledge is our most precious possession, and our future will be s
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 5th 2012 by House of Anansi Press
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Ben Babcock
Certain things just make Canadian public broadcasting awesome, and the Massey Lectures are one shining example. For one week, since 1961, with a few exceptions, CBC radio has broadcast annual lectures on a topic from philosophy or culture by notable figures. These lectures now get published in book format. Douglas Coupland’s most recent novel, Player One , is an adaptation of the lectures he gave in 2010. Now Neil Turok, a noted physicist and current director of the Perimeter Institute, has had ...more

It appears that those seeking answers to the big questions around ontology and epistemology are more likely to be found in physics than philosophy. Neil Turok is the Director of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario and a protégé of Stephen Hawking (who is also on faculty at the Perimeter Institute). This book represents the Massey Lectures for 2012.
I began with great hopes that I would emerge with a better understanding of modern physics, but found the first half of the book almost impen
Patrick Andersen
Some background: I attended the Calgary Massey lecture (chapter 4 of the book)and have a degree in Chemistry and I consider myself reasonably comfortable with quantum mechanical theory.

The good: I really, really enjoyed his potted history of physics. He does a good job of explaining complex ideas in accessible terms. His overall style works.

The bad: Nearly half of the Calgary lecture (this book is essentially the transcript, so half of chapter 4 and good portions of other chapters) are autobiogr
Beth J
Really 4 1/2 stars, because the author is repetitious in some parts.

Loved this book. Although it was right at the edge of my ability to understand parts of it, it was fascinating. Every 10 years or so, I like to catch up with the latest developments in the quantum world. This book is based on this year's Massey Lectures, a Canadian institution that always delivers an in-depth, thoughtful look at an interesting topic by a speaker who is knowledgeable and good at communicating.

This latest look a
This was a fairly quick read, enjoyable as a refresher on modern physics and inspiring as a call to arms for more-- better!-- scientific discovery. I do feel as though the tone failed at times to toe the line between being layman-accessible and being fully explanatory. I was occasionally bored by what seemed to me to be over-explanations of simple classical physics, but otherwise occasionally overwhelmed by the complexity of string theory; being a scientist myself, I have a hard time watching de ...more
This is the book that got me hooked onto the Massey lectures, which will present me with many joyful insights in the future. In case the name is not familiar at once, as was the case with me, just remember the name of the Hawking-Turok theorem, which he already has under his portfolio. And Neil Turok's in his 40s!

The storytelling is totally immersive, and yes I completely understand that a lot of it is due to the format in which the book is intended to follow, namely a series of public lectures.
Jason Williams
The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos by Neil Turok

I had not heard of Neil Turok before, but as a book from the Massey Lectures it was sure to be thought provoking.

While not as in-depth as some of the more popular recent physics books, it does illuminate the names of some researchers and scientists that I had not encountered before.

Turok is enthused about the potential of recent finds in the field, and the book is incredibly up-to-date with summations of the recent CERN discoveries about t
This is the book from Turok's Massey Lectures series. I have an enriched reading experience with this one, since a) I've seen/heard him speak many times, so I can hear him in head and b) Perimeter Institute is 5 minutes away, so we get to go to PI lectures frequently.

In this series of lectures, Neil covers a wide range of topics to do with Physics and Cosmology, but he does it in a Neil way - always tying it to human experience. Real people doing science.

I'm pretty sure that Turok sees scientifi
Chris H-C
Ah, science fact. Such a different kind of read from science fiction.

This author falls into the 'endlessly optimistic' camp. He picks out anecdotes from physics history to paint a picture of geniuses and collaborators being inspired and confounded by the mysteries of each age. Up-to-date as of last year, it is quite interesting for its view on modern advances in cosmology.

Good stuff, even though I disagree with some of his points (like how we're nearly done understanding the world. I have a feel
Turok explains concepts clearly and conversationally. His approach is that science should be accessible to all and scientists should engage with those in the fields of history, art, literature, and music—we all share the same goal, to explore and appreciate the universe and cooperation is the way of the future. An incredibly inspiring book.
Daniel Kukwa
An expansive look at what physics reveals to humanity, that manages to present a beautiful overview without completely shredding my brain. That said, it gets a point off for an odd and out-of-tune swipe at the Dawkins' brigade in the it chiding them for their bold temerity.
Brooke Graham
I cried twice in the first chapter.

This book will make you think.

The CBC Massey Lectures are an annual series given by key thinkers, the latest series given by noted theoretical physicist Neil Turok. The Universe Within is an exploration of physics, from classical to quantum, where Turok takes us by the hand and guides us through the history of science right up to string theory and quantum computing.

Turok’s easy style makes this book remarkably approachable: the tone is neither patr
The author is a scientist who works in the field of cosmology and string theory. This makes him uniquely qualified to write a mediocre popular science book, which he has done. He covers Einstein, relativity, big bang cosmology, the standard model, and string theory. I like that he stays away from anthropic arguments and multiverse explanations. Though, these topics are ever so lightly touched upon. There is an autobiographical theme woven in there. Blink and you'll miss it. After dishing out his ...more
Larry Markley
I heard about this author (Neil Turok of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario) from the YouTube channel MinutePhysics (operated by Henry Reich, also of PI). This book is fascinating; it is part record of the achievements of modern physics, specifically cosmology, part memoir of Turok who was a witness and part of many achievements. Turok also writes about his own endeavor to set up institutes for the study of STEM subjects in sub-Saharan Africa (Turok was born in South Africa if I'm not ...more
Reprints with some modifications a series of lectures the author gave on quantum mechanics in modern physics. I get the feeling it would be more successful in lecture format, but in book form Turok's style is frustrating and repetitious. To be sure: in the few places where the physical arguments become almost comprehensible it's riveting. But Turok is so determined to avoid equations and technical exposition at all costs that you just can't get any kind of feel for how physicists think and work. ...more
Barbara McVeigh
Can't believe I read a book about quantum physics. The book traces the development of scientific thought - from classical mechanics to being able to see the beginnings of the universe. I especially liked the last chapter where Turok explored the possible effects of quantum technologies on human development. Made me want to check out some of McLuhan's prophetic writings. The Universe Within is kind of an academic version of the television series, Cosmos.
Bill Swan
This book is long on personal anecdotes and a bit shorter (than I wanted) on what quantuum physics actually might mean. Turok talks about quantuum computers, for example, but assumes that we all know how quantuum reality (is there such a thing?) will be applied to create the supercomputer of the future. Most of us need a bit more info on the technical challenges, and how these are being overcome.

The limitations may say more about the limitations of the reader, of course. The science of today see
Nice overview of the history of physics, from Newton to cutting-edge quantum theory, with some diversions into the sociological impacts of science and the hopes for the future. Unfortunately a lot of it was fairly familiar, so I found myself glossing over quite a bit. The latter half of the book diverts so some of his more personal experiences, and then attempts to extrapolate on what we can expect in the upcoming age of quantum computers, without quite satisfying questions on the technology its ...more
It was ponderous and less than interesting. I wanted to like it but I just didn't, hence "OK" rating. He repeated his background story more often than needed (I guess because the lectures were delivered in segments/chapters). I have been to South Africa and I do know first hand about the conditions in the country prior to the "Reconciliation." I visited in Jan-Feb 1991 just after Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison (yes, just at the onset of Gulf War 1 also!). As such I did find his ...more
Now here’s a book that’ll peak your curiosity. In the latest lecture in the CBC Massey Lectures, Neil Turok installs a deeps sense of wonder through a fairly detailed story of the cosmos and physics’ attempt to understand it. Don’t let the details of electromagnetic fields, vacuum energy, or the multitude of -tons and -icules scare you off. Throwing yourself into a the foreign world of science and physics can be a humbling and a wondrous experience. Don’t worry, it’s not all talk about protons a ...more
this one isn't as advanced as a few popular science books I've already read so in the first couple chapter I was a little bored. however, turok posses an almost sagan-like optimism and passion for recruiting new minds to science. his belief that we can and will make the world a better place with science is truly charming. and of course, his glowing description of Canada sealed the deal for a four-star rating
This book is a little above the heads of persons who are not into physics (like myself), although the author does a good job at some points in making ideas understandable through simple examples. The history behind things was very interesting. Everyone should read the last chapter in this book, as it has significant implications for the future of mankind, regardless of how the world began. Definitely a good read for the layperson wishing to know more about this topic.
Michel B.
Hunh? Enjoyed the history of the great scientists and their theories/discoveries. My problem is that much of these ideas, even explained, were way above my head. As such, I only 'got' about 10% of it. Probably all my fault rather than the author's.
This light little paperback is anything but. Carrying around The Universe Within is akin to lugging a mighty physics textbook with you everywhere you go. Turok uses a brief 250 pages to explain and explore the entire universe, from the big bang to subatomic particles. He eloquently weaves his travels through science, physics and the western school system into explanations of complex theories by greats such as Einstein, Schrodinger and Heisenberg. At times, the technical science is a tad dense, r ...more
H Wesselius
I had a hard time to deriving a sense of purpose and unity to this lecture series. The Massey lectures usually take place over four nights and thus you expect some disparate ideas yet usually there is a general unity to them.

Turok begins with a general overview of the history of science and an outline of today's models and theories. There are better explanations out there. Because of the lecture format, Turok is forced to be compact without the usual analogies and diagrams for the visual learne
Rolland Kacsoh
I have reread the last chapter in this book several times as a useful outlook on the next century of human progress. Smacks a bit of "Childhood's End" but grounded in present scientific developments.
The joy of this book isn't the science it presents, which must be pretty well known for anyone who has even a passing interest in science. The joy of it is the combination of the knowledge into one large tapestry, making the information feel new and exciting. Bringing in information from physics and astrophysics, plate tectonics, evolutionary biology, genetics, and more the reader moves from the stars to a time when water was the happening place for life, and land was barren, to that great momen ...more
Better as a passionate call for appreciating scientific wonder and advancements, as well as increased funding for science training in Africa, than as a primer on the state of quantum physics. While Neil Turok does an commendable job explaining the key developments in quantum physics over the 20th century (especially the Bell entanglement experiment), the fact that he doesn't go into details on things he clearly understands deeply made some parts difficult to follow. Worth the read though, partic ...more
I am science-curious, but not particularly science-literate, and this book was perfect for me. Turok doesn't shy away from big ideas but rather explains them cogently and coherently. The idea that life as we know it took more than one Big Bang to materialise blows my mind. We are the product of a quite literally incomprehensible amount of time passing.

I felt that the chapter about his outreach in Africa was interesting, but didn't really fit with the flow of the book. Perhaps this is because the
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