From Certainty to Uncertainty:

From Certainty to Uncertainty:

The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century (2002)

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248 pages | 6 x 9

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PDF Full Book
248 pages | 6 x 9

From Certainty to Uncertainty:

The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century (2002)

Contractual obligations prohibit us from offering a free PDF of this title published under the Joseph Henry Press imprint of the National Academies Press.

The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.

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F. David Peat

Suggested Citation

From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.

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"impressively wide-ranging study ... immensely thought- provoking book"
-- New Scientist, June 1, 2002

"This well written and easily read book is intended for a general audience -- one that might be interested in contemporary science and some of its implications for social life."
-- Physics World, July 2002

"Peat, one of science's more colourful historians, chronicles the shift [from certainty to uncertainty] with his usual creativity, drawing parallels between quantum physics, art and philosophy that will surprise many. It's good to see a -- literally -- different perspective."
-- Focus, January 2003

"Peat has masterfully shown how the certainty of the 19th century ... clashed in combat with the new uncertainty personified by Albert Einstein. ... Anyone interested in the demise of the dominance of science in people's minds and how it will affect our futures should read this well-written book."
-- Science Books & Films, November/December 2002

"...a remarkably lucid exposition of the advancement of science in the 20th century. ... an inspiring survey of the most spectacular scientific, technical and artistic ideas of the 20th century; Peat is exceptionally effective when it comes to a graspable presentation of the most sophisticated theoretical accomplishments in science, like G del's theorem or Chaos Theory. Advanced readers will surely enjoy the exuberant style of the book and will be stimulated to share the author's concern for the commencing millennium. ...From Certainty to Uncertainty is a book full of philosophical wisdom. ... An admirable companion to reconsider -- at the beginning of the 21st century -- the most noteworthy ideas of the preceding one."
-- Metapsychology Online Review, June 2002

"Through wonderfully concise, clear metaphors, physicist Peat traces the philosophy of science from the 19th through the 20th centuries..."
-- Publishers Weekly, May 6, 2002

"We liked this book because it ranged so far and wide. ... This book which, believe it or not, is reader-friendly even to the scientifically challenged, should go on every bookshelf. We have moved our own copy from the Teetering Pile to the Keeper Shelf."
-- Constant Reader column by Ann LeFarge, June 2002 (The Constant Reader can be found in the Gazette Advertiser, Harlem Valley Times, Hyde Park Townsman, Millbrook Round Table , The Pawling News Chronicle, The Register Herald, The Putnam County Courier, and The Voice Ledger.)

"From the outset, it is clear that [Peat] is an impassioned advocate of this perspective of uncertainty, building a progressively solid case for its significance over the previous limiting 'arrogant' view. ... In chapter after chapter of historical analysis, he illustrates the limitations of viewing the world through an oversimplified lens and takes us on a grand tour of that same world liberated from such distortions and perceived in its natural complexity."
-- What is Enlightenment?, February-April 2004

"In his endeavour to explain these subtle concepts [of relativity and quantum theory], he has frequent recourse to analogy, but takes care not to over-simplify. ... Ultimately, this is a book where ideas are more important than the technicalities of theory. ... It is a book that will make you think."
-- The Mathematical Gazette, July 2004

"This book puts the development of science and ideas in the 20th century into a challenging perspective. ... This book raises more questions than it answers. For that very reason it can be recommended as a good read."
-- The Scientific and Medical Network Review, Summer 2004

"F. David Peat takes us on a wide-ranging, intellectual journey through the major scientific ideas of the 20th century, from physics and complexity to psychology and ecology. It's a grand, exhilarating tour of the post-modern world."
-- Marcia Bartusiak, author of Einstein's Unfinished Symphony

"Lucid, engaging, provocative... simply brilliant. Peat delivers a fascinating take on why uncertainty in quantum physics intimately affects every aspect of our lives and thoughts. This timely book should be required reading for anybody who cares about where we all go from here."
-- James Burke, author of Circles: Fifty Round-Trips Through History, Technology, Science, Culture

"The journey from certainty to uncertainty is not confined to a scientific tale. It is the story of how human thought has changed in every aspect so that we now live in an age where the only certainty is uncertainty. By making his story an intimate one and absorbing the reader with the very human nature of intellectual revolution, David Peat has done a wonderful job of illustrating how our vision of the universe has changed so radically, so quickly."
-- Michael White, author of The Pope and the Heretic and Leonardo: The First Scientist

"An important synthesis. ... Essential background for any serious futurist or policy analyst."
-- Future Survey, December 2002

"Peat effectively presents problems he sees confronting the world, and he expresses confidence that they will be solved. ...quite accessible."
-- Providence: Studies in Western Civilization, 2004