Oxford University Press
July 15, 2005
There are two approaches by which we human beings have explored our world: the path of science, which has given us increasingly deeper understanding of the nature of our universe, expressed with the grace and precision of mathematics, and reaching far beyond our immediate human experience; and the path of the creative arts, by which we delve inward, into our emotions and imagination, and express our responses through art, language, and music. Yet are the two as separate as they seem? Far from it, for we ourselves are evolved products of the laws and forces of the universe, not external observers. We are deeply embedded in the warp and weft of its very fabric.
In this inspiring, erudite, and white-ranging exploration, John D. Barrow shows how our size, our form, and our aesthetic sensibilities are all molded by the physical nature of the universe we inhabit. He explores the underlying mathematical relationships and patterns behind some of our art and music and their connections with natural forms, and draws out the ways in which the rhythms of our world – of day and night, and the yearly cycle of seasons – have impinged on the human psyche throughout history.
Originally published in 1995, this new edition has been updated and enlarged. From fundamental forces, multiverses, and evolution of complexity, to the patterns in the night sky, the beauty of vases, the music of Bach, Masaccio’s use of perspective, and the fractal nature of Jackson Pollock’s art, this book unveils a richly varied series of surprises that reveal how our existence and culture are framed and guided by the fundamental physical and mathematical structure of our artful universe.
John D. Barrow is Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University, Gresham Professor of Astronomy and a Fellow of the Royal Society. His principal area of scientific research is cosmology, and he is the author of many highly acclaimed books about the nature and significance of modern developments in physics, astronomy, and mathematics, including The Left-Hand of Creation, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, The World Within the World, Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation, Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being, Impossibility: the limits of science and the science of limits, Between Inner Space and Outer Space, The Origin of the Universe, The Universe That Discovered Itself, The Book of Nothing, The Constants of Nature: from alpha to omega and, most recently, The Infinite Book: a short guide to the boundless, timeless and endless. He is also the author of the award-winning play Infinities.