Reflections on Key Books and Publications, by John D. Barrow.
The Left Hand of Creation: The Origin and Evolution of the Expanding Universe. With Joseph Silk. (Heinemann, London; Basic Books, New York, 1983; various paperback and foreign language editions; Enlarged edition, 1995) One of the earliest popularizations of the new cosmology that emerged during the period from 1974 to 1983.
L’Homme et le Cosmos. With Frank J. Tipler. (Radio France Imago, Paris, 1984) A series of radio interviews about the links between life and the universe.
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. With Frank J. Tipler. (Oxford University Press, 1986; various languages; 2nd edition, 1996) This “classic” book investigates all aspects of the anthropic principles in cosmology and other sciences. Remarkable for its wide-ranging and detailed coverage of history, philosophy, theology, astronomy, physics and chemistry. It became a highly influential book for the interface between science and religion.
The World Within the World. (Oxford University Press, 1988; various languages; 2nd edition, 1995) Discusses the origins of the concept of laws of Nature and the distinctive aspects of the laws of Nature that science has discovered in the universe. Discusses many of the relations between ancient religious beliefs and scientific pictures of the world, especially the links between monotheistic beliefs and the emergence of the idea of lawfulness in Nature.
Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation. (Oxford University Press, 1991; various languages.) This book grew out of the centenary Gifford Lecture series given at Glasgow University. It discusses the idea of ultimate explanation, tracing it from its mythological precursors to early scientific attempts to formulate theories of everything, by Boscovich, Eddington and Einstein. It introduces the new candidate provided by string theory and shows that while a theory of everything of the physicists’ sort is necessary to explain the world, it is far from sufficient. The book lists and discusses all the other aspects of the world that must be understood if we are to understand the phenomena that are seen in the universe.
Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking and Being. (Oxford University Press, 1992; various languages) This book grapples with the meaning of mathematics. It begins by tracing the origins of counting in ancient cultures and follows the development of mathematics to increasingly abstract levels. The central question it addresses is “why does mathematics describe the way the world works and how does that understanding help us understand what mathematics is?”
Perche il Mondo e Matematico? (Laterza, Rome, 1992; various languages) A series of lectures delivered at the University of Milan to a general student audience about the nature of mathematics.
The Origin of the Universe. (Orion, London; Basic Books, New York, 1993; 26 languages) A short, simple description of what we think about the origin of the universe. The first volume in the Science Masters series that was subsequently published in many languages and as an audio book.
The Artful Universe. (Oxford University Press, 1995; various languages) This book looks at the links between our aesthetics senses and the nature of the universe round us. We have emerged out of the physical world and we reflect many of its features. This book discusses topics like music, art, complexity, landscape appreciation, the appearance and influence of the night sky, color, fractals and Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism. It was recently republished as an enlarged new edition under the title The Artful Universe Expanded.
Impossibility: the limits of science and the science of limits. (Oxford University Press, 1998; various languages) A novel discussion of the limits of science, mathematics and human thinking. This book shows that the limits of scientific explanation are as revealing as its successes. The most mature theories that we possess seem always to be self-limiting. They predict that at some level they cannot predict. Discusses the relevance of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem for physics and what cosmological questions appear to be unanswerable.
Between Inner Space and Outer Space. (Oxford University Press, 1999; various languages) A collection of essays and pieces of journalism that appeared largely in foreign languages covering topics such as science and religion, humanity’s place in the universe, science and art, quantum reality, the nature of mathematics, theories of everything, and cosmology.
The Universe that Discovered Itself. (Oxford University Press, 2000) New extended edition of The World Within the World.
The Book of Nothing. (Jonathan Cape, London, 2000; Pantheon, New York, 2001; various languages) A study of all aspects of the vacuum, the void, zero, and nothing. This book argues that the response to these concepts was pivotal in the history of mathematics, physics, philosophy, theology and literature. It discusses the nature of the vacuum in modern physics, the multiple vacua of string theory and inflationary cosmology, the theological background to the idea of creation out of nothing, and the derivation of all numbers from the empty set in mathematics.
Infinities. (Editizione Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Milan in Italian, 2002) Background description of the content of the scenes in the award-winning play Infinities performed in Milan and Valencia.
The Constants of Nature: From Alpha to Omega. (Jonathan Cape, London, 2002; Pantheon, New York; 2003; various languages) This book discusses the origins and meanings of the numbers that define the nature of the universe that we have come to call the constants of Nature. Remarkably, although we can measure them with greater accuracy that anything else in Nature, no one has ever succeeded in explaining or predicting any of their values. In particular, will a theory of everything ever be able to explain their values and are they really constant at all?
The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless. (Jonathan Cape, London; Pantheon, New York, 2005; various languages) Could be said to be the reciprocal of the Book of Nothing, The Infinite Book considers all aspects of the infinite – in theology, mathematics, philosophy, fantasy, science, and even science fiction. It distinguished three types of infinity – mathematical, physical, and transcendental – and shows how an attitude towards physical infinities still plays a guiding role in the development of our latest theories of particle physics, black holes, and cosmology.
The Artful Universe Expanded, 2005. (Oxford University Press, 2005; 2nd edition) New expanded edition of The Artful Universe. Further research publications and more detailed CV information can be found at John Barrow’s departmental web page at http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/about/members/barrow.html