John D. Barrow

in London, The United Kingdom
November 29, 1952



John D. 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 2006 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".

He is a member of a United Reformed Church, which he describes as teaching "a traditional deistic picture of the universe", and live in Cambridge, UK.

Average rating: 3.77 · 6,856 ratings · 592 reviews · 53 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Book of Nothing: Vacuum...

3.97 avg rating — 1,104 ratings — published 2000 — 18 editions
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The Infinite Book: A Short ...

3.90 avg rating — 949 ratings — published 2005 — 22 editions
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The Origin Of The Universe

3.77 avg rating — 428 ratings — published 1994 — 31 editions
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The Constants of Nature: Th...

3.74 avg rating — 435 ratings — published 2002 — 18 editions
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New Theories of Everything

4.06 avg rating — 288 ratings — published 2007 — 11 editions
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100 Essential Things You Di...

3.46 avg rating — 436 ratings — published 2008 — 21 editions
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Impossibility: The Limits o...

3.97 avg rating — 298 ratings — published 1998 — 18 editions
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PI in the Sky: Counting, Th...

3.96 avg rating — 246 ratings — published 1992 — 13 editions
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The Anthropic Cosmological ...

3.89 avg rating — 191 ratings — published 1984 — 3 editions
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The Book of Universes: Expl...

3.90 avg rating — 240 ratings — published 2011 — 17 editions
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“History is full of people who thought they were right -- absolutely right, completely right, without a shadow of a doubt. And because history never seems like history when you are living through it, it is tempting for us to think the same.”
John D. Barrow, PI in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being

“Any universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind able to understand it

-Barrow's Uncertainty Principle”
John D. Barrow, 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know

“Turing attended Wittgenstein's lectures on the philosophy of mathematics in Cambridge in 1939 and disagreed strongly with a line of argument that Wittgenstein was pursuing which wanted to allow contradictions to exist in mathematical systems. Wittgenstein argues that he can see why people don't like contradictions outside of mathematics but cannot see what harm they do inside mathematics. Turing is exasperated and points out that such contradictions inside mathematics will lead to disasters outside mathematics: bridges will fall down. Only if there are no applications will the consequences of contradictions be innocuous. Turing eventually gave up attending these lectures. His despair is understandable. The inclusion of just one contradiction (like 0 = 1) in an axiomatic system allows any statement about the objects in the system to be proved true (and also proved false). When Bertrand Russel pointed this out in a lecture he was once challenged by a heckler demanding that he show how the questioner could be proved to be the Pope if 2 + 2 = 5. Russel replied immediately that 'if twice 2 is 5, then 4 is 5, subtract 3; then 1 = 2. But you and the Pope are 2; therefore you and the Pope are 1'! A contradictory statement is the ultimate Trojan horse.”
John D. Barrow, The Book of Nothing: Vacuums, Voids, and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe

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