Howard Bloom‘s forthcoming book The God Problem: how A Godless Cosmos Creates, is arguably his best book so far, a page-turner with deep thoughts and also entertaining bits top top every page.

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Is The God Problem a publication on the background of science? No, more like a thoughtful novel. Wait, possibly an autobiography? popular music culture?

All the the above, and also none. The God Problem defies categorization; it’s a cascade of publications within books within books, favor the novels that Joyce and also Pynchon. The difference is that Bloom writes around the think of the deepest thinkers of every times, native the Babylonians to our days, then proposes new ideas the his own.

I call it “scientific poetry.” The scientific research is rigorous, and the viewpoint is sound, but Bloom is very first and foremost a good writer who renders cerebral ingredient emotionally moving and entertaining.

This publication has no equations, the is not written for scientists, however it’s an excellent science book that will aid readers no only understand science better, but additionally love the more.

Toolkits the the mind


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Ziggurat model. What simple things best under our noses do we fail to see? asks Howard Bloom (Credit: Sadegh Malek Shahmirzadi, Wikimedia Commons)


The God Problem starts v the story of how mathematics was designed in fourth-millennium BC Mesopotamia to count, split, inventory, and also (especially) taxes property. That puts you in the head that a Mesopotamian. You all of sudden see exactly how radically different and also strangely alien an old viewpoint was.

The Babylonians had no one in their psychological toolkit. None. To them, whatever was a line or a level surface, like the surface ar of one iPhone-sized clay creating tablet. Every reference publication in vision asserts the the Babylonian’s designed the 360 levels of angles.

But The God Problem says they go not. And without the principle of the angle and the circle, the Babylonian sky was as level as a ceiling and Babylonian astronomers never bothered to look up in ~ the sky. Instead, they concentrated on a heat — they provided where dots of light poked into the level ceiling the the heavens native the line they referred to as the “cattle pen” of the horizon.

The bottom, well, umm, line? Explains The God Problem, the Babylonians had circles and angles best under their noses. They used circles in their decorative art. And they make perfect best angles to lay out the corners of their ziggurats. However they never uploaded the circle and also the angle to the toolkit of the mind. What simple things appropriate under our noses, asks Bloom, carry out we fail come see? What straightforward things that us take for granted might be the next large tool that mind?

Bloom move to the Greeks in the very first century BC and produces an ext surprises. Pythagoras — thought about by Bertrand Russell and also Bloom as one of the world who had the best influence in the development of Western believed — was the grasp charismatic cult leader of every times. He taught that ultimate truth is based on numbers.

Writes Bloom, “One that Pythagoras’ contemporary biographers, Christoph Riedwig, asserts the if you and also I were to fulfill Pythagoras, … we’d watch him together a madman through exhibitionist tendencies. Why? Pythagoras’ method of presenting himself smacked not of reason, yet of present business. He was tall, charming, and strange.

His robe was a frighten white. And unlike your everyday Greek man of intellect, under his robes the wore one outrageous violation that the fashion that the day — a donation to couture indigenous the horse-riding barbaric warriors of the steppes to the northeast, the Scythians. Trousers.”

Again, the strange means Pythagoras reasoned reveals much more of just exactly how fragile and temporary our modern ways the thought might be.

Deep structures of the cosmos


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Code 912 moving automaton (credit: Wolfram Mathworld)


You really don’t want to miss Bloom’s account of the life and also works of the thought leaders between Greeks and also the thinkers that today. Yet fast-forwarding to our age, Bloom mirrors that contemporary ponderers are an extremely much favor Pythagoras.

Remember, Pythagoras was sure that number is behind everything, from the music that the heavens come the sneezes, coughs, and mood swings in your day-to-day life. Instead of numbers, Benoit Mandelbort, john Conway, and also Stephen Wolfram hunt for an additional kind that what Bloom calls “Ur patterns” — “deep structures of the cosmos, fads the cosmos repeats over and over again.”

But Conway and also Wolfram’s structures space algorithms, an easy rules. The breakable fractal shapes of Benoit Mandelbrot — a Jewish mathematician escaped indigenous Warsaw who uncle, a modern-day Pythagoras, founded a mystery society the mathematicians — are staggeringly complex but no random. On the contrary, castle are created by iteration of basic mathematical formulas.

The buzzing and meaningful complexity of reality can likewise be generated, Bloom shows, by iteration of basic rules. Termites construct amazingly complex structures by the repeat of straightforward behaviors that space hardwired, by evolution, in your tiny brains, that points out.


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A global Turing an equipment (UTM) imposed in Conway’s video game of Life. The tape, which acts as a warehouse medium, passes the programmable read/write head. (Credit: Paul Rendell)


John Conway is the inventor that the popular and also influential game of Life, and also Stephen Wolfram is the creator the A brand-new Kind the Science. Digital physicists choose Conway and Wolfram think that the ideal model for ultimate reality, whatever that is, may be moving automata, wherein — as in Mandelbrot’s fractals — simple rules and also initial patterns produce unpredictable, beautiful and facility results .

“Can friend build whole cosmos from an easy rules?” marvels Bloom. “Stephen Wolfram is convinced that friend can. In fact, he’s particular that a variation on man Conway’s computer system game can even solve such straightforward scientific mysteries as the unification of quantum physics and also relativity.”

At 14, Wolfram “wrote his an initial book on particle physics. At 17, the clinical journal Nuclear Physics published a record he’d written. At 18, he created a widely acclaimed document on heavy quark production,” and also became the youngest person to victory a MacArthur Genius Grant. “Wolfram concluded,” states Bloom, “ the you can even use cellular automata to fix seemingly impossible problems like how to reconcile quantum physics with relativity.”

Then yes a parallel plot. Many authors compose to clarify your thoughts to themselves, and Bloom is no exception: in the autobiographical sketches scattered throughout the book, he writes about himself. Yet he puts girlfriend in his pair of shoes — or his bedroom slippers — and lets you experience his adventures. In the process, you get to it is in Jewish for one day. Then you become an atheist at the age of 13 and also learn why Bloom does no feel the require to develop a God to develop the universe.

A debilitating disease leaves you — a scientist who experiment in mass culture turns you into a media expert/publicity consultant because that Michael Jackson, Prince, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, and also many other stars — border to her bed for years and also unable to work. Yet from your bed, you find the Internet and also create online communities to comment on your ideas, consisting of some of the principles that later result in your books.

You regulate to gain out of her bed after ~ 15 years. And also in 2006, as Bloom, friend co-author a document in the theoretical physics web preprint site arXiv top top “Conversational (dialogue) design of quantum transitions.” The radical file proposes that the source of a particle and every one of that particle’s feasible detectors “talk” prior to the particle is ultimately observed by just one detector. These talks carry out not take ar in physical time, however in “hidden time.”

The covert time model, states Bloom, “treats time together a form of communication. The treats time as a form of info extraction. It treats time together a kind of translation. In fact, time is the ultimate extractor that implicate properties. Or, to use Claude Shannon’s word, time is the can be fried extractor the meaning.” In typical Bloom style, the Appendix, which an ext conventional scientists would more than likely fill through formulas, explains the society life of bees.

Entropy, information, and also meaning


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Howard Bloom (credit: plunder Kritkausky)


I never met him in person, yet I had actually the pleasure and the honor to meet him virtually and also talk come him in numerous online events. I think the Internet, an arising group mind constructed by a “recruitment strategy” that makes us all components of a planetary (and morning cosmic) search engine and an interpretation generator, is just one of the protagonists the this book.

In Bloom’s file of Claude Shannon, an additional seminal thinker that played an important role in the computer modern technology of our times, “information” is defined as the entropy (disorder) the a signal.

According to Shannon, maximally entropic (random) noise — a sequence of random numbers — can not be compressed to something simpler and also therefore has actually maximum details content.

But the raises a problem: arbitrarily noise, by definition, no have any type of useful information, Howard Bloom says, or meaning! Important locations of modern science (What is entropy? does the universe destroy information or develop information?) are muddled by confusion in between different aspects of information.

Entropy is about information, however life is around meaning, the points out: “Meaning method more 보다 it go in Claude Shannon’s vocabulary. Meaning is a sense of direction. A feeling of whereby to walk next.”

In David Bohm’s “implicate order” formulation that quantum physics, hidden meaning unfolds in a seemingly arbitrarily world. Bohm wrote in his 1980 Book Wholeness and also The Implicate Order that “what we speak to empty an are contains an tremendous background that energy, and also matter as we recognize it is a small, ‘quantized’ wavelike excitation on optimal of this background, rather like a tiny ripple ~ above a substantial sea.” Space, he said, is “full, not empty.” full of what? Implicate order, says Bloom.

“Strangely, Bohm had his greatest impact on the brand-new Age movement. In 1985, he co-wrote a book on The finishing of Time with legendary Indian “World Teacher” J. Krishnamurti, and his dialogs with the Indian mystic were collected in two much more books.”


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The huge bagel world (credit: Sabine Allaeys)


The big bagel theory

Howard additionally describes some imaginative physics concepts of his own, like his “big bagel theory,” devised in 1959 .

Imagine a big bagel (similar come a doughnut) with an infinitesimally small hole in the middle.

The matter universe expands rapidly (now recognized as “inflation”) up native the big-bang singularity at the hole, and also then slows down, and over the ~14 billion years, broadens out in a circle on the surface of the bagel.

An antimatter cosmos does the same, the explained, but moves in the contrary direction in the hole: down. In the far-off future, “once the 2 universes run out that the power that has actually shot them away from each other, castle ‘sense’ each other’s call. Castle slowly start to fall into every other’s arms. Lock slowly start to succumb come the pull of each other’s gravity.

“When matter and antimatter fulfill at the outer edge of the bagel castle annihilate. They revolve to life energy. And they do a dimensional flip. The external edge the the bagel i do not care the bagel’s hole. The hole from i m sorry a new big bang emerges.”

Fast-forward come 2003, once cosmologists noticed unanticipated “circles in the sky” patterns in the cosmic microwave lift (CMB) that might be finest explained by — you guessed it — the “doughnut universe” model, according to candid Steiner, a physicist at Ulm college in Germany, in a 2008 file in Classical and also Quantum Gravity (arXiv version) cited in Nature News.

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I am sure all reader of Bloom’s vault books, The Genius the the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision the CapitalismThe Lucifer Principle: A Scientific exploration Into the forces of HistoryGlobal Brain: The development of massive Mind indigenous The huge Bang come the 21st Century, and How ns Accidentally started The Sixties, room impatiently waiting for the relax of The God Problem on respectable 24.