“The Cosmic Landscape : String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design”

(This article was originally posted on blogger.com on Dec 11, 2005)

Leonard Susskind’s new book, The Cosmic Landscape : String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design is finally out.

While waiting for amazon.co.uk to ship it to Denmark, here I’ll provide a list of related reviews and discussions:

From Publishers Weekly,

As modern physics has developed a better understanding of how the universe operates at its most fundamental levels, one thing has become increasingly clear: we’re damned lucky to be here at all. The laws of physics are precariously balanced, and were the value of one constant slightly different, life as we know it wouldn’t exist. To explain the ridiculous improbability of it all, some physicists have turned to the “Anthropic Principle”: the universe seems perfectly tailored to us because if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to observe it. The underlying rationale for this argument involves the “landscape” of potential laws of physics (which, it turns out, aren’t so immutable after all), a whole bunch of extra dimensions and lots of particle physics. Luckily, Susskind – the father of string theory – does the job right, guiding readers through the current controversy over the Anthropic Principle. Make no mistake: this is the cutting edge of physics as described by one of the sharpest scientific minds around. While the subtitle is a bit misleading (this isn’t about intelligent design in the Kansas Board of Education sense, but actually a controversy at once bigger and less prominent), persistent readers will finish this book understanding and caring about contemporary physics in ways both unexpected and gratifying.

There is a longer, and not too surprisingly, very critical discussion of the Cosmic Landscape at Peter Woit’s blog; Michael Duff posted a critical review in Physics World; and Clifford Johnson has a review of Duff’s review at Cosmic Variance.

Note: if you’re looking for a discussion of the idea of “Intelligent Design” as an “alternative” to Darwin evolution, you’re looking at the wrong book 😉

Update: The is also a review by Kenneth Silber at Tech Central Station; and one by John Ellis in Nature.


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