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by Sir Arthur S. Eddington

eBook The Nature of the Physical World download ISBN: 0841438854
Author: Sir Arthur S. Eddington
Publisher: Folcroft Library Editions (June 1935)
Language: English
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Category: Literature
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Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington OM FRS (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician. He was also a philosopher of science and a populariser of science.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington OM FRS (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS was a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century. World War I severed many lines of scientific communication and new developments in German science were not well known in England. He is famous for his work regarding the Theory of Relativity.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington OM (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was Plumian Professor of Astronomy at the University of. .

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington OM (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was Plumian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. He was arguably the most important astrophysicist of the early 20th century, and was also a successful populariser. The present revolution of scientific thought follows in natural sequence on the great revolutions at earlier epochs in the history of science.

Описание: Eddington - the Nature of the Physical World. with regard to former books. conversational style of the lecture-room is generally considered rather unsuitable for a long book, but scientific writer, in forI decided not to modify it. the mathematical formulae which are his natural going I. have.

The course of Gifford Lectures that Eddington delivered in the University of Edinburgh in January to March 1927. It treats of the philosophical outcome of the great changes of scientific thought which have recently come about. The theory of relativity and the quantum theory have led to strange new conceptions of the physical world; the progress of the principles of thermodynamics has wrought more gradual but no less profound change

Sir Arthur Eddington. In these lectures the author Eddington discusses some of the results of modern study of the physical world which give most food for philosophic thought

Sir Arthur Eddington. In these lectures the author Eddington discusses some of the results of modern study of the physical world which give most food for philosophic thought. This will include new conceptions in science and also new knowledge. In both respects we are led to think of the material universe in a way very different from that prevailing at the classical physics. This book is substantially the course of Gifford Lectures which the author Eddington delivered in the University of Edinburgh in January to March 1927. It treats of the philosophical outcome of the great changes of scientific thought.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, 1882–1944, British astronomer and physicist . He was chief assistant (1906–13) at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and was from 1913 Plumian professor of astronomy at Cambridge, where he was director of the observatory from 1914. Eddington was one of the first physicists to grasp the theory of relativity, of which he became a leading exponent. The Nature of the Physical World By A. S. Eddington The University Press, 1929. New Pathways in Science By Arthur Eddington The Macmillan Company, 1935.

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Comments: (7)
I first read this book forty years ago. I found it by accident in the rare book section of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School Library. You could only checkout the book for seventy-two hours. I read the introduction and for the next three days spent all of my free time devouring chapter after chapter. A. S. Eddington was a Professor of Astronomy at the U. of Cambridge. He was invited to give the distinguished Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh Jan. - March 1927. This book is the compilation of those lectures. Eddington progresses from the downfall of Newtonian Physics through Einstein's theories of Relativity and Gravity, through Quantum Mechanics and ends with a chapter on Science and Mysticism. Recently I had an urge to re-read the book and was delighted to see a hardback issue had been published and was readily available through Amazon. The Introduction starts with Eddington describing his two writing tables. One he is very familiar with since his earliest days. It is comparatively permanent, colored and above all substantial. The second table he calls his scientific table is mostly emptiness with swirling electrical particles rushing around with great speed. This is where you can get hooked, line and sinker, if you have an inquisitive nature and always wanted to know what all the fuss about Einstein and time is about.

I discovered from reading a comment on one of the two Amazon reviews that you can download the book free on the Internet from the Henry Foundation[...] This version has a new preface by the foundation's philanthropist Richard Conn Henry. He too was influenced as I was on Eddington's ability to navigate through the space-time gelatin nature of the physical world to the realization that all we observe in the universe is not by chance.

Henry writes: "Forty years of teaching physics gradually made me realize what Eddington realized at once, one must reject materialism, as there is no material. And should one wish to remain an atheist, which one may, then one is forced to be a solipsist. (Physicist, if you should make that later choice - do be careful not to blush.) Well in 2004- to my utter astonishment- I ceased to be an atheist - and instead turned into a theist. I became religious solely through the study of physics. The one result is that I am now happier than I have ever been in my life. I recommend it!

Being an emeritus professor of chemistry (medicinal) I was delighted to see that physics like chemistry leads one, if one is honest, to the understanding that the chemistry of the life processes and the nature of the physical world are Divine symphonies. I have recently purchased and sent to friends and family six hardback copies of “The Nature of the Physical World”. You can also purchase a Kindle version for $0.99 but it does not come with the few figures.

In conclusion, some books as well as scientific discoveries, paintings, music, etc., lay dormant for decades or more before they are widely accepted or appreciated. The Nature of the Physical World by A.S. Eddington is one of those treasures.
Donald J. Abraham, Ph.D.
Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) was an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician. He wrote many other books, such as The Philosophy of Physical Science,The Internal Constitution Of The Stars,The Theory of Relativity and its Influence on Scientific Thought,Space Time and Gravitation - An Outline of The General Relativity Theory, etc.

He explains in the Introduction about the “non-substantiality of electrons,” and says, “To a request to explain what an electron really is supposed to be we can only answer, ‘It is part of the ABC of physics.’ The external world of physics has thus become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions.”

He continues, “In these lectures I propose to discuss some of the results of modern study of the physical world which give most food for philosophic thought. This will include new conceptions in science and also new knowledge. In both respects we are led to think of the material universe in a way very different from that prevailing at the end of the last century.”

He says, “Suppose that location is, I will not say entirely a myth, but not quite the definite thing it is made out to be in classical physics… That would explain a great deal. It would explain, for instance, why all the forces of Nature seem to have entered into a conspiracy to prevent our discovering the definite location of any object… naturally they cannot reveal it, if it does not exist.” (Ch. I)

He observes, “We have been accustomed to regard the world … as stratified into a succession of instantaneous states. But an observer on another star would make the strata run in a different direction from ours. We shall see more clearly the real mechanism of the physical world is we can rid our minds of the illusion of stratification. The world that then stands revealed, through strangely unfamiliar, is actually much simpler.” (Ch. III)

Famously, he wrote, “If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it MIGHT happen that my screen made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming in typewriters they MIGHT write all the books in the British Museum. The chance of their doing so is decidedly more favorable than the chance of the molecules returning to one half of the vessel. When numbers are large, chance is the best warrant for certainty.” (Ch. IV) [Some variation of this quotation has erroneously been attributed to T.H. Huxley, and others. But note that Eddington was NOT talking about evolution, etc.)

He asks, “Is there an end to space? If space comes to an and, what is beyond the end? On the other hand the idea that there is no end, but space beyond space for ever, is inconceivable. And so the imagination is tossed to and fro in a dilemma. Prior to relativity theory the orthodox view was that space is infinite… Einstein’s theory now offers a way out of the dilemma. Is space infinite, or does it come to an end? Neither. Space is finite but it has no end; ‘finite but unbounded’ is the usual phrase.” (Ch. IV)

He admits, “As a scientist I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang; unscientifically I feel equally unwilling to accept the implied discontinuity in the divine nature. But I can make no suggestion to evade the deadlock.” (Ch. IV)

He notes, “The cast-iron determinism of primary law is, I think, still widely accepted but no longer unquestioningly. It now seems clear that we have not got hold of any primary law---that all those laws at one time supposed to be primary laws are in reality statistical… I think it might be said that Nature has been using rather unfair dodges to prevent our discovering primary law… I believe that Nature is honest at heart, and that she only resorts to these apparent shifts of concealment when we are looking for something which is not there. It is difficult to see now any justification for the strongly rooted conviction in the ultimate reestablishment of a deterministic scheme of law…” (Ch. V)

He states, “Of the two alternatives---a curved manifold in a Euclidean space of ten dimensions or a manifold with non-Euclidian geometry and no extra dimensions---which is right? I would rather not attempt a direct answer, because I fear I should get lost in a fog of metaphysics. But I must say at once that I do not take the ten dimensions seriously; whereas I take the non-Euclidian geometry of the world very seriously, and I do not regard it as a thing which needs to be explained away.” (Ch. VII)

He ends Chapter VIII with the statement, “I do not think that the whole purpose of the Creation has been staked on the one planet where we live; and in the long run we cannot deem ourselves the only race that has been or will be gifted with the mystery of consciousness. But I feel inclined to claim that AT THE PRESENT TIME our race is supreme; and not one of the profusion of stars in their myriad clusters looks down on scenes comparable to those which are passing beneath the rays of the sun.”

He suggests, “The principle of indeterminacy is epistemological. It reminds us once again that the world of physics is a world contemplated from within, surveyed by appliances which are part of it and subject to its laws. What the world might be deemed like if probed in some supernatural manner by appliances not furnished by itself we do not profess to know.” (Ch. X)

He says, “The things which we might have built but did not, are there just as much as those we did build. What we have called a building is rather a selection from the patterns that weave themselves. The element of permanence in the physical world, which is familiarly represented by the conception of substance, is essentially a contribution of the mind to the plan of building or selection.” (Ch. XI)

He explains, “the stuff of the world is mind-stuff… by ‘mind’ I do not exactly mean mind and by ‘stuff’ I do not at all mean stuff. Still this is about as near as we can get to the idea in a simple phrase. The mind-stuff of the world is, of course, something more general than our individual conscious minds; but we may think of its nature as not altogether foreign to the feelings in our consciousness.” (Ch. XIII)

He asserts, “However much the ramification of the cycles may be extended by further scientific discovery, they cannot from their very nature trench on the background in which they have their being---their actuality. It is in this background that our own mental consciousness lies; and here, if anywhere, we may find a Power greater than but akin to consciousness. It is not possible for the controlling laws of the spiritual substratum… to be analogous to the differential and other mathematical equations of physics which are meaningless unless they are fed with metrical quantities. So that the crudest anthropomorphic image of a spiritual deity can scarcely be so wide of the truth as one conceived in terms of metrical equations.” (Ch. XIII)

He notes, “It is a consequence of the advent of quantum theory that physics is no longer pledged to a scheme of deterministic law. Determinism has dropped out altogether in the latest formulations of theoretical physics and it is at least open to doubt whether it will ever be brought back.” (Ch. XIV)

He suggests, “We must suppose that in the physical part of the brain immediately affected by a mental decision there is some kind of interdependence of behavior of the atoms which is not present in inorganic matter. I do not wish to minimize the seriousness of admitting this difference between living and dead matter. But I think that the difficulty has been eased a little, if it has not been removed.” (Ch. XIV)

In the concluding chapter, “Science and Mysticism,” he says, “The starting-point of belief in mystical religion is a conviction of significance or… the sanction of a striving in the consciousness. This must be emphasized because appeal to intuitive conviction of this kind has been the foundation of religion through all ages and I do not wish to give the impression that we have now found something new and more scientific to substitute. I repudiate the idea of proving the distinctive beliefs of religion either from the data of physical science or by the methods of physical science.” (Ch. XV)

He concludes, “I have sometimes been asked whether science cannot now furnish an argument which ought to convince any reasonable atheist. I could no more ram religious conviction into an atheist than I could ram a joke into the Scotchman. The only hope of ‘converting’ the latter is that through contact with merry-minded companions he may begin to realize that he is missing something in life which is worth attaining… We are anxious for perfect truth, but it is hard to say in what form perfect truth is to be found… And the deepest philosophical researches as to the nature of the Deity may give a conception equally out of proportion for daily life; so that we should rather employ a conception that was unfolded nearly two thousand years ago.” (Ch. XV)

He says in his Conclusion, “The lack of finality of scientific theories would be a very serious limitation of our argument, if we had staked much on their permanence. The religious reader may well be content that I have not offered him a God revealed by quantum theory, and therefore liable to be swept away in the next scientific revolution… Our eyes once opened, we may pass on to a yet newer outlook on the world, but we can never go back to the old outlook.”

This is a fascinating book, despite the fact of its having been written in 1928; scientific theories have advanced since then, but most of Eddington’s explanations and speculations remain thought-provoking and challenging.