Review of Sabine Hossenfelder’s “Existential Physics”

Jenann Ismael at her own website:

There is a tradition of physicists writing popular books that reflect philosophically on what physics can teach us about the human condition. This book is a contribution to the genre. Hossenfelder is a physicist who works on quantum gravity, with a blog that made her known as a gadfly in her field. A previous book took on one of the sacred cows of theoretical physics – the pursuit of beauty in theorizing – and in this book she says that she is going to bring established science to bear on the kinds of questions that ordinary people ask: “people don’t care much whether quantum mechanics is predictable, they want to know whether their own behavior is predictable; … They don’t care much
whether galactic filaments resemble neuronal networks; they want to know whether the universe can think”. More ambitiously, she is going to convey what physics tell us about the human condition. What are we? (Are you just a bag of atoms?) Has physics ruled out free will? The book, she says “is for those who have not forgotten to ask the big questions.” She isn’t going to talk about the speculative parts of science, for the most part. She says that she is just going to report what established science says about the kinds of questions that appeal to non-professional curiosity. Brilliant!

More here.