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The Universe Within

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  467 Ratings  ·  75 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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(showing 1-30)
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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
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
Dec 21, 2012 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction

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
Beth J
Dec 20, 2012 Beth J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Stefany GG
Jul 24, 2015 Stefany GG rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sci-div
Un repaso de la física moderna, con un lenguaje sencillo y esperanzador, como una llamada de atención para dejar de ser testigos desinformados y dar ese paso a tomar acciones e involucrarte en la ciencia. Plantea la necesidad de mantener una mente inquisitiva, ahondar en las profundidades de todo aquello que damos por sentado y ser partícipes de lo que está por venir. El autor, además, nos llama a abogar por una ciencia más humana donde las ideas sean llevadas a cabo por mentes brillantes conect ...more
Nov 28, 2012 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 01, 2014 Chrissy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 15, 2012 Kaitlyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2012 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 02, 2013 Brooke Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried twice in the first chapter.
John Pollard
Nov 12, 2016 John Pollard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seems quite typical of other cosmos-esque type books I have read i.e. fascinating and well written by one of those very clever and enlightened scientists who communicates well. The old ground of the history of scientific discovery is there again, but it doesn't matter as I always forget it so it is nice to go over it all again. The area where it piqued my interest most was in quantum physics which sounds almost beyond understanding; well far beyond my understanding, but from what Neil ...more
In spirit of #NonFictionNovember2016.
Listened to the final brilliant lecture today. Loved it!
I've never been good at physics, unfortunately, but this book gives me hope. Wish I've been taught by Neil Turok... He rocks!
Jan 18, 2013 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jul 01, 2013 Tlaura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Johannes C
Aug 25, 2016 Johannes C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well prepared and interesting. I especially enjoyed the history and philosophy of science stuff. I also found the quantum computing stuff interesting, which I did not feel as taken with when I encountered it briefly in school. One of my favourite things was the little part about universal scales (from the Plank length scale at 10^-35 meters to the size of the known universe at 10^25 meters scale, and the scale of cells at 10^-5 meters as the geometric mean.)

I'm not as optimistic about scien
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
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
Apr 01, 2013 Larry Markley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Bill Swan
Dec 09, 2012 Bill Swan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 14, 2013 Colin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 16, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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
Jun 07, 2014 Jonn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2016 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phd-studies
Going further afield and beyond the limits of spacetime: before the big bang, deep inside the quantum computer's qubit, back to presocratic philosophers, perhaps Turok's greatest innovation in the new arena of modern science is geography. Not just the trifecta of England, Northern Europe and America, he includes South Africa, the Far East, neglected South and Canada as sites of the universe's growing consciousness. He warns of the aimlessness of the digital revolution where we are all connected ...more
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Neil Geoffrey Turok is a South African physicist, and the Director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His work has been in the area of mathematical physics and early universe physics, including the cosmological constant and a cyclic model for the universe.

Turok was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Mary (Butcher) and Latvian-born Ben Turok, who were activists in the anti-aparthei
More about Neil Turok...

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