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Fear of a Black Universe: An Outsider's Guide to the Future of Physics

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"The rabbit hole gets wrestled here. An old school saying applies: the more you know, the more you don’t know. Dance along this read into the unknown and find out that this book may be the best ever answer to ‘What is soul?'"
—Chuck D, rapper and co-founder of Public Enemy

*Starred Reviews* from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly!
Named a Best Book of 2021 by
Library Journal, Kirkus, and symmetry Magazine

In this important guide to science and society, a cosmologist argues that physics must embrace the excluded, listen to the unheard, and be unafraid of being wrong.

Years ago, cosmologist Stephon Alexander received life-changing advice: to discover real physics, he needed to stop memorizing and start taking risks. In Fear of a Black Universe, Alexander shows that great physics requires us to think outside the mainstream — to improvise and rely on intuition. His approach leads him to three principles that shape all theories of the universe: the principle of invariance, the quantum principle, and the principle of emergence. Alexander uses them to explore some of physics' greatest mysteries, from what happened before the big bang to how the universe makes consciousness possible. Drawing on his experience as a Black physicist, he makes a powerful case for diversifying our scientific communities. Compelling and empowering, Fear of a Black Universe offers remarkable insight into the art of physics.

ISBN-13: 9781541699632

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Basic Books

Publication Date: 08-31-2021

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Stephon Alexander is a professor of theoretical physics at Brown University and an established jazz musician. He was the scientific consultant to Ava DuVernay for the feature film A Wrinkle in Time. His work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other outlets.

Table of Contents

Part I

1 Escape from the Jungle of No Imagination 3

2 The Changeless Change 17

3 Superposition 35

4 The Zen of Quantum Fields 53

5 Emergence 63

6 If Basquiat Were a Physicist 75

Part II Cosmic Improvisations 93

7 What Banged? 95

8 A Dark Conductor of Quantum Galaxies 105

9 Cosmic Virtual Reality 119

10 Embracing Instabilities 129

11 A Cosmologist's View of a Quantum Elephant 143

12 The Cosmic Biosphere 157

13 Dark Ideas on Alien Life 173

14 Into the Cosmic Matrix 187

15 The Cosmic Mind and Quantum Cosmology 203

Acknowledgments 215

Notes 217

Index 227