The One True Platonic Heaven:

The One True Platonic Heaven:

A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge (2003)

224 pages | 5 x 7.5

Get the book now

224 pages | 5 x 7.5

More Purchase Options

More Purchase Options



PDF Full Book


The One True Platonic Heaven:

A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge (2003)

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.

  • Overview
  • Reviews
  • Related Resources


John Casti

Suggested Citation

The One True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction of the Limits of Knowledge. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

Import this citation to:

"Formal and informal discussions of quantum mechanics and their strange consequences and other rarefied matters are fascinating. ... There is a lot of value here..."
-- New Scientist, April 19, 2003

"[Casti's] book is fun to read as much for the thoughts it stimulates as for those it addresses. ... When his cast of characters settles down to talk about scientific matters, the clarity of exposition makes for compelling reading."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2003

"Casti takes some license in putting words into these mouths, but he provides insight into these people's thoughts and opinions on topics ranging from quantum logic to the structure of economic systems. The exercise provides a candid look at the logical barriers that great scientists have overcome in their pursuits."
-- Science News, July 5, 2003

"Casti knows his subject and explains it lucidly; the discussions of physics and math are reasonably accessible and quite engaging. ...readers eager to explore the principles of theoretical physics and math may appreciate Casti's reconstruction of the great debates."
-- Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2003

"Fun, if you dig quantum mechanics... physics... you know."
-- Constant Reader column, June 2003

"We live in the age of computers. Like other inventions that serve us well, computers also have a history. One important dimension of that history relates to a theme as abstruse and abstract as the limits of human knowledge. ... In this slender volume, science writer Casti distills the essentials of this and a number of related topics (like quantum logic and thinking machines) in a fascinating genre of scientific fiction. ... The players come alive in the re-created episodes. Those who are familiar with the names and topics will find the book delightful, if not deep; but even those with only a basic background in science and mathematics will find it absorbing and informative. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
-- CHOICE, November 2003

"...the problems of the day are described in an interesting and useful way. ...a work like this is a terrific way to creatively explore profound concepts... The book does well in introducing important figures and questions in the fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science."
-- MAA (Mathematical Association of America) Online

"As would be expected among a gathering of super brains, the ideas cover the gamut, the intellectual dynamic is lively, and, above all, the conversation honestly reflects the positions of each individual. ... As a pedagogical work, this book succeeds in presenting the viewpoints of important historical scientists. As a speculative work, it succeeds in raising valid questions about the scope and limits of scientific endeavor."
-- Library Journal, May 1, 2003

"Imagine a physics textbook in which the great scientists suddenly come to life as unpredictable characters sauntering down shady streets as they debate cosmic theories. Just as he did in The Cambridge Quintet (1998), Casti blends real science with compelling fiction. ... Thanks to Casti's daring imagination, we are allowed to intrude on the exclusive world of IAS and listen in on the profound conversations of its brightest luminaries."
-- Booklist, April 15, 2003

"...the book provides a very interesting vignette of intellectual history, sketching out ideas and personalities that have had a lasting importance."
-- TechCentralStation, May 28, 2003

"John Casti has dedicated himself to bridging the gap between the supposed 'two cultures' of science and the humanities, and The One True Platonic Heaven, as entertaining as it is informative, is another strong lifeline thrown across the chasm."
-- John Banville, author of the novels Doctor Copernicus and Kepler

"In this highly imaginative book, Casti raises the question of whether Nature itself raises barriers to our understanding. The One True Platonic Heaven is a fictional confection with a hard center of scientific truth."
-- Gregg Herken, author of Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller

" [A] must read."
-- Today's Books, August 4, 2003