The End of Discovery

The End of Discovery

Are We Approaching the Boundaries of the Knowable?

Oxford UP, 2010




This is an ambitious yet accessible book that spans the universe from its creation to yesterday and includes pretty much everything in it. Physicist and professor Russell Stannard, a confident guide through this complex and, at times, contradictory territory, proves skilled at analogies and visualizations, and sympathetic over the difficulty of the questions he raises. These are mind-shattering inquiries: thoughts about thoughts and observations about observations. The author presents this confusion as the status quo and illuminates how all the contradictions of physics still come together to define a universe. Stannard also reminds the reader that everything he describes could be obsolete tomorrow. He provides perspective for – and getAbstract recommends this book to – all those interested in science, predictions of the future, philosophy and human nature.


Limits to Scientific Discovery

Science has advanced rapidly throughout recent history, but don’t assume this progression will continue – ¬it can’t. Science won’t reach its limits anytime soon, but it will stop making fundamental discoveries. This won’t be because humanity knows everything; rather, the human brain evolved for certain functions, and human intelligence has its limits. For example, confirming string theory would require a “particle accelerator the size of a galaxy.” Certain profound questions have long resisted resolution, perhaps because they have no answers.

What Is the Relationship Between the Brain and the Mind?

Scientists cannot explain the relationship between brain activity and people’s “mental experience.” This leads to an even larger question: Why should you “have mental experiences at all?” You know you’re conscious, and you assume other people are, since they act like you, but you can’t know that directly. The “problem of consciousness” has been around for thousands of years, sitting at the intersection of two different ways of discussing things. One “language” talks about what you feel and think; the other addresses scientific and mathematical...

About the Author

Russell Stannard is an emeritus professor of physics at the United Kingdom’s Open University.

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