Re: The Fabric of Reality

Damien Broderick (
Wed, 13 Aug 1997 12:46:38 +0000

At 11:48 AM 8/11/97 CST, Rick wrote:
> I made a reference to Michael Talbot's "The Holographic Universe".
> AH! Damien, y'got me in a mad dog paddle all of a sudden. Talbot's
> book may have been pablum but when you're a baby, it's digestable.
> M-theory? Kicking in? Loopy space? Brane (sp??) theory? And sorry,
> but acronyms are too plentiful...TOE??? I'm receptive and I'm ready
> for a chewier meal. Your direction is requested.

Sorry for the clotted terminology. It's hard to know on an open list like
this how much other people have read, what their clockspeed is, all that.
I'm in the peculiar situation of never having done any science or math
since... well, ever, since I got stuck in a technical school (wood work and
sheet metal and like that) due to my renowned stupidity, and they weren't
big on labs or science teachers... BUT, despite that background I've been
reviewing pop science books now for a decade for the Australian national
newspaper, so I have a kind of lay sense of what's horseshit and what
isn't. M-theory, as I mention elsewhere, is membrane theory - hence
`branes', which is a topological term of some generality. Loopy space -
Lee Smolin and Abhay Ashtekar have been developing a version of general
relativity in which space and time are `foamy', made of `loops' (which
recalls an earlier but failed approach by the genius John Wheeler, called
`geometrodynamics'). These loops somewhat resemble the strings (and now
membranes) of the alternative quantum-based elementary particle theories.
TOE is Theory of Everything, which superstring theory aims to be but
Smolin's current analysis, based on `evolving laws', denies is possible
(sort of). I recommend Smolin's new book THE LIFE OF THE COSMOS, but it
might be a bit compressed as a starter. Maybe try some of John Gribbin's
recent books first - SCHRODINGER'S KITTENS, say. Or one of Paul Davies' -
SUPERFORCE is good, but out of date... but so is everything next week. :)

Regards, Damien Broderick