LIFE IS SIMPLE tells, in an entertaining and engaging way, the remarkable story of a simple idea that begins its epic journey 800 years ago with a medieval Franciscan friar and yet somehow still influences some of the most profound ideas in science today.
Occam's razor, like Hobson's choice and Schrödinger's cat, is a phrase that's entered the language. We know more or less what it means without necessarily knowing anything about its inventor or realising the immense power it has as a philosophical and scientific principle. LIFE IS SIMPLE describes brilliantly the context in which William of Occam lived and worked, and the transforming effect that his simple-seeming doctrine has had on the development of our understanding of nature and the universe.
I read LIFE IS SIMPLE and found myself captured by the central premise: that science, though perceived as complicated, is actually the pursuit of simplicity. Johnjoe has created a fascinating book that weaves history, science and humanity together to illuminate what science really is - a topic that could not be more timely. The world is currently waking up to the complexities of science and its role in our world, and this book is an enlightening aid to that new understanding.
In LIFE IS SIMPLE, geneticist Johnjoe McFadden offers a breezy but well-researched look at how the razor has inspired some of science's biggest ideas...his examples illustrate with persuasive power how 'simplicity continues to present us with the most profound, enigmatic and sometimes unsettling insights' into how the universe works
The most sheerly enjoyable history of science of recent years
LIFE IS SIMPLE is a history that takes you through many centuries of understanding the changing language and philosophy of science. I highly recommend you buy it
With flair and accessibility, McFadden walks readers through Occam's many intellectually revolutionary ideas...A dense, provocative, and satisfying foray into the history of science
A compelling assessment of an idea many of us know but few deeply understand
I learned a great deal from reading this book and I thought that the concept of simplicity as the main plot of the story worked well
McFadden's love for William is hard to resist. If you are at all interested in the history of ideas, this is a fabulous read. Even after you've taken a few detours through other material to become better oriented in the controversy over what exactly he's good for, William plausibly still stands as a daring, original figure who deserves a place in the Pantheon, and McFadden has done a great service in bringing the whole William and his influence to wider attention. In short, Life is Simple is enthralling.
Centuries ago, the principle of Ockham's razor changed our world by showing simpler answers to be preferable and more often true. In Life Is Simple, scientist Johnjoe McFadden traces centuries of discoveries, taking us from a geocentric cosmos to quantum mechanics and DNA, arguing that simplicity has revealed profound answers to the greatest mysteries . . . Recasting both the history of science and our universe's origins, McFadden transforms our understanding of ourselves and our world
A tour through two millennia of scientific discovery . . . interesting and illuminating
For all its technical triumphs, science does not take place in a cultural vacuum. McFadden's wonderful and thoroughly-researched account of the history of ideas reveals how simplicity as an overarching principle weaves through all the sciences, telling us something profound about the nature of reality. His vivid descriptions and clear exposition make the subject come alive, and resonate with significance. This is one of the best science books I have read in a decade.
Like a talented stylist or editor, courageous scientists have identified what is redundant . . . and promptly scratched it out. McFadden's book brings this observation to life using two millennia of scientific advancement, never castigating those who were wrong, but instead highlighting how they helped to shape the correct answers that came later
McFadden includes much interesting material drawn from Ockham and other historical sources. His evident enthusiasm is particularly welcome as this book is directed not only at fellow scientists but also at a wider readership
Johnjoe McFadden's delightfully lucid book is itself a model of deceptive simplicity. The words glide off the page in this trenchant analysis of nature's complexities that brings fresh life to centuries of scientific discovery and also points the way towards a clearer future
Thoroughly fascinating . . . Far from being a narrow specialist, [McFadden] has a firm grasp of the complexities of many branches of science . . . Breath-taking in its comprehensiveness and clarity