Monday, January 05, 2015

For the first book out of the gate this year, we have Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe by Martin Rees. Unfortunately, it's just not that great a book. At only 167 pages I wasn't expecting a lot of depth, but there's little here that I wasn't already familiar with. His selection of six numbers that influence the structure of the universe was pretty strong, but his writeups were often disturbingly vague. He regularly points out that &lsque;small’ variations in these numbers could have drastic effects on the structure of the universe, but his descriptions of same are remarkably vague, and &lsque;small’ sometimes means ± 20% and sometimes means differences of 1000-fold. As a well-educated layman in the field, I found it all very vague and filled with gosh-wow handwaving rather than educational.

The average layman is probably going to be equally lost. Rees is clearly trying to steer a middle course here between presenting enough data to educate the layman, but not to much as to bury him. But his explanations aren't strong, and I think the average reader would walk away more confused than enlightened.

In short, not recommended.

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