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Anthony Aguirre, Cosmological Koans

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 7:00pm
Anthony Aguirre Cosmological Koans

Bookshop is pleased to welcome Anthony Aguirre for a book discussion and signing of his new book, Cosmological Koans. In fifty brief chapters, Aguirre introduces these Buddhist-style questions—or koans—and then uses physics to explain them. A koan is a brief paradox—such as the classic What is the sound of one hand clapping?—that may seem baffling at first, but which on reflection offers real insight into the mysteries of life. To examine his cosmological koans (Could there be a civilization in a mote of dust? How much of your fate have you made? Who cleans the universe?), Aguirre takes the reader all over the world and back in time, from dissecting cartography in 17th century China to conducting experiments on gravity with Galileo in a Venetian gondola. With a flair for explaining complex science with ease and insight, Aguirre covers cosmic questions from the nature of time to the origin of multiple universes, and shows how scientific giants from Aristotle to Heisenberg have grappled with them.

Playful and enlightening, Cosmological Koans explores the strange hinterland between the deep structure of the physical world and our personal understanding of it, giving readers what Einstein himself called “the most beautiful and deepest experience” anyone can have: a sense of the mysterious.

Anthony Aguirre is a professor of physics at the University of California-Santa Cruz and cofounder of the Foundational Questions Institute. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

“The tremendous insights into the natural world which are the precious gift of the current research in physics and cosmology can be popularized by simplifying and trivializing them; or they can be made to sparkle, looking in the eyes the abyssal questions they open. This is what Anthony Aguirre does, with shining intelligence and profound human sensitivity, in this gem of a book.”—CARLO ROVELLI, New York Times best-selling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

“This unique and beautifully written masterpiece by a leading cosmologist transforms the deepest mysteries of our Universe into a captivating and accessible quest for personal enlightenment.”—MAX TEGMARK, Professor of Physics at MIT and New York Times best-selling author of Life 3.0

“A truly creative exploration of physics and its profound insights into the Universe. The questions at the heart of Koans have been used in Zen practice for more than a thousand years to open the eyes of Buddhist practitioners. Aguirre, an adapt practitioner of physics, ably builds his own Koans to reveal the depths of understanding scientists have gained into the nature of Space, Time and Matter.  A masterful writer, Aguirre has composed an accessible and entertaining exploration of the Cosmos and our place in it. This book is a delightful addition to popular accounts of both the foundations and frontiers of physics.”—ADAM FRANK, author of Light of the Stars

This free event will take place at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Chairs for open seating are usually set up about an hour before the event begins. If you have any ADA accommodation requests, please e-mail by May 26th.

Cosmological Koans: A Journey to the Heart of Physical Reality Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393609219
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 21st, 2019