Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Required reading: the meaning of life

A former academic, Eric Weinstein, says he's solved the mysteries of the universe, and some at Oxford University agree. Here are three books that are a must read for those trying to understand life, the universe and the reason for being.

Big news from the annals of science last week. A British newspaper reports that the mysteries of the universe may have been solved by a hedge-fund economist who left academia 20 years ago. Eric Weinstein’s theory – he calls it geometric unity – posits a 14-dimensional “observerse”, which contains our work-a-day, four-dimensional, space-time universe.

Weinstein presented his big idea to the prestigious Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University last week and can count several high-profile academics among his supporters.

So, what do you make of geometric unity? If won’t be long, surely, until that question is casually thrown your way at a dinner party.

Don’t panic; just read on.

Weinstein’s theory is the latest in a long line of what physicists call a Theory of Everything. Turn to A Brief History of Time – the 1988 book that made Stephen Hawking the world’s most famous scientist – to learn more. A Theory of Everything, says Hawking, must reconcile the two great theories that underpin our understanding of the physical world: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics.

But you knew that anyway, right? And, of course, you’ll know most of what’s contained in The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox, the D:REAM keyboard player turned physicist pin-up. But before you take on geometric unity, it can’t hurt to brush up on your understanding of quantum physics: a world of subatomic particles wherein one object can be in two places at the same time, and (some say) an infinitude of parallel universes exist. You can see how this Theory of Everything stuff becomes tricky, right?

With your head wrapped around all that, you’re ready to refresh your knowledge of other recent attempts to solve the Big Question. See New Theories of Everything by the Cambridge cosmologist John D Barrow, for a survey that includes the theory that the universe is a computer simulation and that we – our hopes, dreams and everything around us – are nothing more than digital information being shuttled around inside it.

Still, if that’s true, you’ve got to wonder who is using the computer.

twitter Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National