Hidden Unity in Nature's Laws

Hidden Unity in Nature's Laws

One of the paradoxes of the physical sciences is that as our knowledge has progressed, more and more diverse physical phenomena can be explained in terms of fewer underlying laws, or principles. In Hidden Unity, eminent physicist John Taylor puts many of these findings into historical perspective and documents how progress is made when unexpected, hidden unities are uncovered between apparently unrelated physical phenomena. Taylor cites examples from the ancient Greeks to the present day, such as the unity of celestial and terrestrial dynamics (17th century), the unity of heat within the rest of dynamics (18th century), the unity of electricity, magnetism, and light (19th century), the unity of space and time and the unification of nuclear forces with electromagnetism (20th century). Without relying on mathematical detail, Taylor's emphasis is on fundamental physics, like particle physics and cosmology. Balancing what is understood with the unestablished theories and still unanswered questions, Taylor takes readers on a fascinating ongoing journey. John C. Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge. A student of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam, Taylor's research career has spanned the era of developments in elementary particle physics since the 1950s. He taught theoretical physics at Imperial College, London, and at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and he has lectured worldwide. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.


"The book is an undoubted success. John Taylor does not try to exaggerate results or make unsupported claims, and he attempts at all times to elucidate complicated matters in simple language....many worthwhile ideas are expounded here which even a newcomer to physics could understand. I strongly recommend this book." --Nature

"The book is elegantly clear and beautifully written...The author seems to have an immense intuitive skill for picking those topics that will evoke the reader's interest...This is far and away the best account of physics for the general reader I have ever seen. It is not a physics text. It contains no calculus, and thus will not tutor the reader in the art of solving specific problems in physics. But it fully conveys the mystery and fascination physics has exerted on humankind since the age of the Greeks. It should occupy a privileged position on the bookshelf of anyone curious about the world around us." Mathematical Association of America

"Successful books about science for nonscientists tread a fine line. Information must not be lost in discussions that are too technical, but scientific rigor must not be sacrificed for story line. Taylor takes a hstorical approach to physics, beginning with the Greeks and finishing with cosmology and elementary article physics at the end of the 20th century.... Explaining the topics and their implications to nonscientists is difficult, but Taylor ... succeeds...." Choice

'This book covers a vast expanse of physics and is a genuine tour de force for its insights and intellectual honesty. This is an exceptional book by an exceptional physicist.' The Times Higher Education Supplement