Oxford University Press
August 25, 1988
Do there really exist laws of Nature out there waiting to be discovered? How did this notion of laws of Nature arise? And are these laws the ultimate reality or merely pieces of temporary legislation enacted by ourselves to guide us through the jungle of experience? Why are they so well described by mathematics? Are they the same everywhere and everywhen? Is it even possible that there really are no laws of Nature at all – that they are an illusion? How does our own existence limit what can be known about the Universe?
This book presents a wide-ranging interdisciplinary study of the evolving concept of laws of Nature. From the magical notions of primitive cultures to the latest ideas about chaos, black holes, inflation, and superstrings the author traces the gradual development of our concept of what laws of Nature are and how we come to know them. The scientific and mathematical topics discussed are of major importance to philosophers and scientists. This book gives them the opportunity to see these new ideas discussed in a serious but non-technical style within a historical context.
John D. Barrow is Lecturer in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.