Book Review: The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack (Three Stars)
“Everyone from Aristotle to … Buffy the Vampire Slayer has at one point asked, ‘What does it all mean?’ As of this writing, we have yet to reach a consensus.”
A Brief History of Time for a new era. Mack communicates better than Hawking. A good review of the current (2020) state of astrophysics. She patiently takes the reader through current thinking of the end of the universe as seen by the contending schools.
“Even though we puny helpless humans have no chance of being able to affect (or effect) an end of the cosmos, we can begin to at least understand it.”
Told in a conversational manner, as if discussing funeral arrangements of a not-too-close relative over tea. Has all the blind spots and false assumptions that we expect of academicians with just enough irony to soften the blows.
“I’m sure you’ve heard this from many people,” Clifford Johnson tells me, nonchalantly, a few months later, “but I think we’re getting better at realizing one of the things we’ve been saying in string theory for a long time, which is that spacetime isn’t fundamental.”
Skip Chapter Eight; Mack name-drops her colleagues. Perhaps someone’s job is at stake.
“The bad news is that this consistent picture of the Standard Model also tells us that our Higgs vacuum—the perfectly balanced set of laws that govern the physical world—is not stable.
Our whole beautiful cosmos appears to be living on borrowed time.”