Accounts and photographs of walks, climbs and treks in some of the world's most spectacular mountain landscapes


Books - Science & Nature


Books on Modern Science & Nature in the quest to answer the big questions:-

The origin and evolution of the universe. The origin and evolution of life. The conflict between Science and Religion.


Overview | Quotes | General

Cosmology | Evolution | Quantum Theory | Computers | Religion | Recent Advances


Overview:


Information vs Ignorance

Einstein - learning

Ingersoll - Science

Asimov

The universe began with the "Big Bang" some 14 billion years ago. The chemical elements have been generated in the "Big Bang" and by thermonuclear reactions in the stars and dispersed in space by supernovae.

The Sun is a third generation star formed with the Solar System and the Earth from condensed space dust some 4.5 billion years ago. Our sun is just another star in just another galaxy in no special position in the universe.

The universe consists of some 73% dark energy, 23% dark matter and 4% baryonic matter ( eg protons and neutrons ).

Complex hydrocarbon molecules, the basic building blocks of life, have been found in space. From RNA, the first self-replicating molecule and the predecessor of DNA, the evolution of complex life on Earth is explained by Darwinism and Genetics.

The origin of life and the formation of RNA are still unexplained as is the origin of the universe ie what happened before the "Big Bang"?

How the fundamental laws of science / parameters of nature are established and why they are so precisely right to enable the evolution of the universe and complex life remains to be determined. Scientists seek a rational explanation while theologists and philosophers invoke the supernatural - ie deities / supreme intelligence / God The question is: " was our universe designed for life or is it a lucky universe in a generally unlucky multiverse? " ( viz - Anthropic Principle ) .

According to Lee Smolin new universes are generated by black holes and their properties have evolved to match those necessary for the evolution of our universe and complex life within it. 

According to Stephen Hawking universes are spontaneously created with many different laws due to quantum fluctuations. From the multiverse of all possible universes ours is one with the right laws to provide the conditions for the evolution of complex life. It is unnecessary to invoke the supernatural.

We are made from Stardust


Quotations:



" God did not create the Universe. Theology is unnecessary "
Stephen Hawking

" Celestial truth lies with science rather than scripture. " Copernicus


" Theologians came to realize that they would look foolish 

if they continued to deny what men of learning regarded as reality. " Big Bang


" The boundary of science is where knowledge ends and ignorance begins " William Whewell


" Scientists replace supernatural myths, philosophical blunders and religious dogmas

with accurate, logical, verifiable natural explanations. " Big Bang


" God is what man invented to compensate for his ignorance of science. "  John Le Carre


" The only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible " Albert Einstein


" Science offers a surer road to God than does religion " Paul Davies


" I have always thought it curious that, while many scientists claim to eschew religion,

it actually dominates their thoughts more than the clergy " Fred Hoyle


" If there is a God then He is a mathematician " Mathematical Philosophy


" Some foolish men declare that a Creator made the world. 

The doctrine that the world was created is ill-advised and should be rejected.

If God created the world, where was He before creation? ..... " The Mahapurana, Jinasena


" God is in the details " , " The God of the Gaps " ( the default option ) Charles Coulson


" I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. 

My God created laws that take care of that. 

His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking but by immutable laws " Albert Einstein


" Many people find that modern science is far removed from God. 

I find on the contrary ....

in our knowledge of physical nature we have penetrated so far 

that we can obtain a vision of the flawless harmony which is in conformity with sublime reason " Hermann Weyl


" You cannot believe in God and be a true scientist " Craig Venter, Human Genome Project


" I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. 

The laws may have been decreed by God but God does not intervene to break the laws. " Stephen Hawking


" Science is the pursuit of knowledge about God's creation. "  Pope Benedict XVI


" Science has turned up no proof of the divine and

there is a lot less room for a creator than before - the space for God is shrinking. " Leon Lederman


" Geology, this brand new science, was the key to unlocking thousands of years of fettered and blinkered prejudice.
For the first time the earth had a provable history,
a written record that paid no heed or obeisance to religious teaching and dogma
.", The Map that changed the World



" Maybe it's time we redefined God as something more than the creator of the universe ", Andrei Linde ( re creating baby universes in the lab )

General Science & Nature:


" Of all the creations of humanity by far the most important has been the creation of science

Science has taken us from the swamp and lifted us to the threshold of the stars. " Physics of the Future


A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson Einstein's RefrigeratorThe Universe Next DoorThe Mind of GodThe End of ScienceThe Next 50 Years A Devil's ChaplainUnweaving the Rainbow

Impossibility - the Limits of Science The Single Helix - A Turn around the World of ScienceDeep Simplicity - Chaos, Complexity & Emergence of LifeAn Inconvenient Truth - Al Gore  Profiles of the Future - Arthur C.Clarke  Deep Future  The Science of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Earth from the Air A Short History of Planet EarthRocks, Minerals & Gemstones  Small World  Gaia  Here be Dragons - The Scientific Quest for Extraterrestrial Life  Paradigms Regained - The Mysteries of Modern Science  101 Things You Don't Know about Science

Prehistoric Past Revealed The Canon - Basics of Science  The Map that changed the World  Physics of the Impossible  Climate Change in Africa  Molecules

 Our Cosmic Origins - From the Big Bang to Intelligent Life  Monster of God - The Man-Eating Predator  Robot - The Future of Flesh and Machines  The Reason Why - The miracle of life on Earth  Blasphemy  New Life Stories - Richard Attenborough  

Physics of the Future  Light Years - an exploration of the physics of electromagnetic radiation  The Time Traveller - Research, design and development of a time machine  Wonders of Life  Paradoxes - The nine greatest enigmas in science  Spectrums - Our Mind-boggling Universe, from Infinitesimal to Infinity

The Hair of the Dog and other Scientific Surprises  The Rosetta Stone - Decoding the Hieroglyphs  Paradigms Lost  Seven Elements That Have Changed The World:  Forces of Nature


Climate Change / Global Warming - Deniers


Revolutionary advances that mean we'll soon be able to take an elevator into space, access the internet via our contact lenses, scan our DNA for signs of disease and even change the shape of objects.

Computers:

Robot - The Future of Flesh and Machines  How to Build a Computer made easy  Guide to Home Networking




Cosmology / Astrophysics / Astrobiology:


Cosmos - Carl SaganIntelligent Universe: A New View of Creation and EvolutionA Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes Black Holes & Baby Universes Stardust The Biggest Bangs The Magic Furnace  Space - Our Final Frontier

God's EquationAntimatter The Birth of Time - the Age of the Universe Einstein for DummiesThe Last Three Minutes - the ultimate fate of the universe How Far is Up - The men who measured the UniverseSpace, Time and Einstein  Extreme Universe

The Life of the Cosmos Stephen Hawking's Universe - The Cosmos Explained  The Big Bang  Big Bang - The most important discovery of all time  The Grand Design - Stephen Hawking  From Eternity to Here  The Life of the Cosmos 

 The 4% Universe - Dark Matter, Dark Energy  Our Universe - an introduction  Deep Future  Astrobiology


Evolution of the Universe


" To suppose universal laws of nature capable of being apprehended by the mind and yet having no reason for their special forms but standing inexplicable and irrational is hardly a justifiable position. Uniformities are precisely the sort of facts that need to be accounted for. Law is par excellence the thing that that wants a reason. Now the only possible way of accounting for the laws of nature and for uniformity in general is to suppose them the results of evolution "  

Charles Sanders Pierce, The Architect of Theories, 1891


" Must all of our scientific understanding of the world really come down to a mythological story in which nothing exists before 20 billion years ago save some disembodied intelligence who, desiring to start a world, chooses the initial conditions and then wills matter into being? I suspect that the attraction for such a story is at least partly fuelled by the nostalgia for the religious conception of the world and by a desire to see ourselves in the place of the creator of the world.
" So there never was a God, no pilot who made the world by imposing order on chaos and who remains outside, watching and proscribing."
Life of the CosmosLee Smolin 


" The universe is not only queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose " JBS Haldane




Recent Advances:



Evolution / Biology / Darwinism / DNA / Genetics:


Darwin


Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Dawkins - Evolution


Geology - fossil record


The Evidence for Evolution;-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIEoO5KdPvg

" We don't need a supernatural explanation for the existence of life

- it is probably an inevitable consequence of the laws of nature. " Brian Cox, Wonders of Life


" Richard Dawkins is an implacable opponent of those who water the dark roots of superstition. " Philip Pullman


" In the USA there is no better example of the misunderstanding of science than creationism.

Creationism is nothing more than religion masquerading as science. 

The universe has precisely the expected properties of no design and no purpose

- nothing but blind indifference." Michael Shermer


" Just as evolutionary biology made it possible for intellectually fulfilled people to do without creationism, computational cognitive science makes it possible to dispense with the concept of the soul. "  Steven Pinker


" Humans are just one of the branches of the tree of life shaped by the same evolutionary forces.

Any other differing account of human origin ( ie religious dogma / creationism ) are pure myth. " Before the Dawn


" Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. " Theodosius Dobzhansky


" The idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law " Daniel Dennett


" the body and soul are inseparable " Physics of the Future


" Does life have some magical, mystical essence, or is it, like any chemical reaction carried out in a science class, the product of normal physical and chemical processes? Is there something devine at the heart of a cell that brings it to life? The double helix answered that question with a definitive NO " James D.Watson


Nature vs Nurture:

"Does the way I am owe more to a sequence of As, Ts, Gs and Cs ( the four bases of DNA ) inherited from my parents, or to the experiences I've had ever since my father's sperm and mother's egg fused together? " James D.Watson


" if we could make better human beings by adding genes then why shouldn't we? " James D.Watson


" There is nothing in biology yet found that indicates the inevitability of death " Physics of the Future


" Most of the secrets of the development of life are contained in early embryos, and we are extremely likely to be able to use what we learn from such embryos to save many lives and ameliorate many conditions which make life miserable, we would not only be crazy but wicked to cut ourselves off from these benefits. " Robert Edwards


" Prominent evolutionary biologists have argued that religious belief is a universal human instinct - there is a group of genes for believing in God or gods. A religious instinct may be no more than a by-product of an instinctive superstition to believe that all events have wilful causes. " Matt Ridley - Genome


".. humans are not the creation of an all-wise,
 all-powerful deity but the product of evolutionary forces.
" Professor Steven Rose



" The purpose of life is reproduction "



" Religious fundamentalists - Christian, Jewish, Islamic - deny evolution accounts for life on earth "
The Canon



" Creationists first paint science as a body of facts and certainties
then attack this or that certainty for not being so certain after all
. " The Canon



" It's irritating to hear people who hold fundamentalist views accuse scientists of being the inflexible ones
 when it is the other way around
. " The Canon



" Creationists regard evolution as a matter of opinion - it does not matter what the evidence is. "
The Canon



" Everyone alive today is either an African or a descendent of Africans.
Most African Americans have European ancestors.
All European Americans have African ancestors. "  
Mapping Human History




" For geneticists the term race is not definable.
 There is a clear genetic influence on attitudes to racism eg apartheid, white supremacy.
Religious affiliation is totally cultural.
There is a genetic influence on religious beliefs.
 "  Genes Unzipped



" Genetically there is no such thing as race " The Seven Daughters of Eve



" Comparative genomics has shown that the human species is a genetic continuum and the differences between populations are restricted to a very small subset of genes that affect superficial appearance such as skin colour "
Genetics



" People can be genetically assigned from their genotype / DNA to their continent of origin ie race. "
Before the Dawn 



" The denial of evolution is not about the science but about religious ideology. "
Making of the Fittest



" The theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth that has stood rigorous scrutiny and on which much human knowledge and achievement rest. To reject this truth or to treat it as one theory among others is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and to transmit such ignorance to children. "
Making of the Fittest



" There is suffiicient genetic variation between different groups of people
 to justify the terms sub-species and race " Strange  Fruit



Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill:  

Catholic leaders, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal Keith O'Brien, criticised the legislation but senior Labour MPs and peers accused the Catholic Church of trying to "dictate Government policy" and of "scaremongering". Lord Winston, a Labour peer and one of the foremost authorities on reproductive health, said the Catholic Church risked "destroying its probity" with "overblown" statements about the legislation accusing Cardinal O'Brien of deliberately misleading the public - " His statements are lying, they are misleading and when the Catholic Church tells untruths it brings discredit upon itself  ". Telegraph


Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, described its implications as "grotesque" 

and akin to "Nazi-style experiments".

In an open letter, Cardinal O'Brien said he was "appalled" that Gordon Brown was promoting the bill. Cardinal O'Brien wrote: "The grotesque implications of these procedures are utterly horrifying and fly in the face of all medical guidance on consent to research." He said this behaviour was last seen under the Nazis, and urged the prime minister to urgently amend the legislation.

Catholic Labour MP Jim Sheridan said the comments were outrageous. Mr Sheridan accused the Catholic Church of "scaremongering", and said a more measured approach was needed. The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said the remarks were "very far from reality", adding: "Winding people up is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church."


The Selfish GeneThe Blind WatchmakerClimbing Mount Improbable The Ancestor's TaleEvolutionThe Fifth Miracle: the Search for the Origin of LifeThe Double Helix

DNA - The Secret of Life Clones, Genes and Immortality Out of EdenRiver out of Eden Bones of ContentionApe Man  Genes, Peoples & Languages  How the Leopard Changed its Spots - Evolution of Complexity

Richard Dawkins Our Posthuman Future  Improving Nature: The Science & Ethics of Genetic Engineering  CLONE - The Road to Dolly & the Path Ahead  Mendel's Demon ( Gene Justice and the Complexity of Life )  Genome - The Autobiography of a Species  Lifelines: Biology, Freedom, Determinism

Becoming Human Evolution - 101 Key Ideas  Biology  Mapping Human History  Your Genes Unzipped  The Seven Daughters of Eve - Our Genetic Ancestors  The World from Beginnings to 4000BC

 Origin of Species  Origin of Species  Evolution - The Rough Guide  Genetics  Life Ascending  Darwin's Sacred Cause

 Virolution  Making of the Fittest - DNA and Evolution  The Naked Woman  The Naked Man  The Naked Ape  Greatest Show on Earth - Evidence for Evolution  The Lost Dinosaurs

 Darwin's Island  First Life - Evolution of early life on Earth  Born in Africa - Quest for origins of Human Life  Before the Dawn - The history of our ancestors  Charles Darwin - Origins and Arguments  Strange Fruit - The Race Debate

 Mind Management  End of the Dinosaurs  A Troublesome Inheritance  Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind  The Greatest Show on Earth - Evidence for Evolution


 

 - Genes / Genetics / Biology ( Science / Facts )
   Vs Memes/ Psychology / Sociology ( Beliefs / Perception )

References:-

The final episode of the Frozen Planet documentary series by the BBC which considers the threat posed by man to the natural world through climate change will not be shown to audiences in the USA.


Quantum Theory & Particle Physics:


In Search of Schrodinger's Cat  The Search for Superstrings, Symmetry, and the Theory of Everything  Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality  The Quest for Unity  Higgs - Invention and Discovery of the God Particle  Bohr and Quantum Theory  The Infinity Problem



What are we made of?

The world is made from the chemical elements. Elements consist of atoms. Each atom has a nucleus containing positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons. Surrounding the nucleus are negatively charged electrons bound to the nucleus by electrical attraction. The electron is one of the fundamental / elementary particles but the proton and neutron are not. Both the proton and neutron consist of quarks. The quarks are bound together by the strong nuclear force which also binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus. The mass of a particle is derived from its interaction with the Higgs Field and is  contructed entirely from energy.

References:-


God / Theology / Religion / Philosophy / Morals / Ethics:


Stephen Hawking and his lifetime of contributions:-

Stephen Hawking
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