Review of a book review : The View from the Center of the Universe

I recently happened to come across this review about a book titled "A View from the center of the Universe", by Joel R.Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams. The caption for the book is "Discovering our Extrodinary place in the Cosmos". I could not help but copy-paste the review here, and express my love for the way the review was knit. I really wish, you could spend some time reading it. Thank you, if you chose to read.

These kind of books have a charm of their own. However, the aim of the blogpost is not to spray some words of appreciation or criticism for the book. Rather, we here, have something more subtle to appreciate. The reviews about a book, by real book lovers can be identified with the sheer fragrance of intellect that emanates from the writing, all the while using a rather unimaginative invention of humans, called words.

Words are packets of data for conveying information, and they have their limitations. Firstly, you must be aware of the word the author writes, for the communication to happen between you and him/her(author). In the five paragraphs quoted below, the author (who unfortunately could never be identified by me with simple Googling techniques) has written a brilliant review about the book and this wise man has knit those words beautifully. 'A good read', to be precise. Enjoy.

The married couple of philosopher Nancy Ellen Abrams and cosmologist Joel R. Primack are uniquely placed to discuss how our understanding of the Universe affects how we perceive our role in it. The ancient creation myths provide comfort and meaning, but they are fantasies. In contrast, modern cosmology offers a glimpse of reality but leaves many people cold. In View from the Center of the Universe, Abrams and Primack challenge themselves to try and get the best of both world views.

In the distant past, we convinced ourselves that we had a special place in the Universe. Geographically we were at the center of space, with everything revolving around us, and biologically we thought that humans were an exceptional creation. But as each century passed, we realized that we are less and less special. Today, we see ourselves as insignificant in the context of the whole Universe. The Copernican revolution relegated and redefined Earth as just another planet, and made the Sun the hub of the Universe. Then astronomers showed that the Sun is not even at the centre of the Milky Way, and eventually it became clear that there are billions of other galaxies, which made Earth seem trivial.

The problem with becoming increasingly insignificant was appreciated as far back as the seventeenth century by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal: "I feel engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing and which know nothing of me. I am terrified . . . The enternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me."

The existence of dark matter only further relegated humanity, as Primack pointed out in 1984: "Yet another blow to anthropocentricity: not only is man not the center of the universe physically (as Copernicus showed) or biologically (as Darwin showed), it now appears that we and all that we see are not even made of the predominant variety of matter in the universe!"

But Abrams and Primack argue that humans still hold a central and special position in the Universe, perhaps not geographically but in many other ways. For example, we are special because we are made of the rarest material in the Universe, namely large atoms. Also, we live at a central time, because most nearby galaxies are past their violent youths but are not yet senescent. And we live at the midpoint of our planet's life, which is a few billion years before it will be roasted by our Sun swelling into a red giant. And humans have a reasonably central size, roughly halfway between the smallest length scales (10-33 cm) and the distance to the cosmic horizon (1028 cm)


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