The One (Hardback)
How an Ancient Idea Holds the Future of Physics
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In The One, particle physicist Heinrich Päs presents a bold idea: fundamentally, everything in the universe is an aspect of one unified whole.
This idea, called monism, has a rich 3,000-year history: Plato believed that 'all is one', but monism was later rejected as irrational and suppressed as a heresy by the medieval Church. Nevertheless, monism persisted, inspiring Enlightenment science and Romantic poetry.
Päs shows how monism could inspire physics today, how it could slice through the intellectual stagnation that has bogged down progress in modern physics and help science achieve the 'grand theory of everything' that it has been chasing for decades.
Blending physics, philosophy, and the history of ideas, The One is an epic, mind-expanding journey through millennia of human thought and into the nature of reality itself.
[A] heady mix of history, philosophy and cutting-edge theory that is fascinating, provocative … stimulating and engrossing.
The history is thoroughly researched, the physics is cutting edge and Päs's larger point resonates: much, or maybe all, of what we take for reality is an artifact of our limited perspectives.
"It has always been the dream of philosophers to have all matter built up from one fundamental type of particle," said Paul Dirac in 1930. With expert guidance from Heinrich Päs, in The One we glimpse the scale and grandeur of the dream in one of its modern forms: everything is quantum information.
Usually we say the universe is made of particles, but Päs shows how quantum physics inverts that. The whole comes first, not the parts – the parts come from fragmenting the whole. I'll never see reality the same way again!
Are we one with the universe? It is a question as old as mankind … But Päs is ready for the challenge and delivers an original and fresh account of both the history and the science of monism. An enticing read for those who seek to understand their place in nature – and who does not?