Amazon.com reader comments.
Beautiful, Eloquent, Personal and Enlightening, April 3, 2004
By Autodidact Andy "IndiAndy" (Golden State California)
What is this
book about? In a few words it is about "Nothingness"
or the vacuum or "Void", cosmology and the fate
of our Universe. What is the Void? It may surprise you to
find out that physicists unilaterally agree that, in a strict
sense, there is no such thing as nothing anywhere in our Universe.
What is the nature of the apparent emptiness between particles
of matter and the space between galaxies? The answer - Fields.
These fields are the ubiquitous, ephemeral, and evanescent
Higgs, Gravitational, Electromagnetic (QED), (electro) Weak,
and Strong (QCD - color). This answer is obviously incomplete.
QFT may be penultimate to an absolutely fundamental M-theory.
In an additional sense, I think it's fair to say that Patterns
is a study of one humble astronomer's experience, observations,
and search for meaning in and of the physics of Spacetime
& Gravity, the Vacuum, and the physics of Fields. It is
a search you can comfortably ride along with - sharing in
the exploration, gaining ontological handles for carry-on
Well, how does
`Patterns in he Void' read? `Patterns' isn't the usual gee-wiz
historical chronology or rundown of concepts and theoretical
breakthroughs made by the respective physicists. Dr. Odenwald
uses accessibly technical language tempered in confidential,
sincere and conversational prose - addressing deep issues
& questions that you and I, as mere mortals in spectator
physics, might seek meaningful answers for. He is personal,
warm, candid and forthcoming - even in his chapter that tackles
the stark outlook for the ultimate fate of humanity and the
seemingly inevitable heat death of Universe. Be prepared,
some chapters have a bit of foreboding and melancholy. I can't
help but feel as if this is the story of how the author faced
his fears and came to final acceptance of the honest scientific
facts regarding the ultimate demise of Life and the Universe.
Sten uses a refreshing approach in the beginning of each chapter
giving occasional real-life stories that lend warmth, meaningful
context and impetus for further reading - welcoming one to
move forward without trepidation. For example, he reminisces
about star parties with like-minded friends of his youth -
earnest and eager in their amateur astronomical attempts to
grasp the big picture of cosmology. He also shares some of
his later outings and adventures in the rugged backcountry
wilderness where strange and ominous events brought his mind
to the precipice of epistemology. These often tie-in with
issues of mind & matter - consciousness, brain perception,
and physical observation with regards to theoretical physics.
To be sure, this is not the titillated/fluffy & tangential
speculation of the paradox in measurement, uncertainty, and
quantum conundrums one sees in much of todays popular quantum
physics publications. You can find these philosophical treatments
in just about every other book.
Early in the
book, a seashore tide pool is used as an exquisite metaphor
for discovery. Eloquent analogies abound throughout the text.
Quantum Fields, Superstring, Supersymmetry, and M-Theories
are wonderfully elucidated in later chapters. The beauty and
power of physical theories and, to a very limited extent,
the mathematics used in their description is shared in accessible
language. On an incidental note, I perceived subtle hints
of something strange early in this book. It almost seems as
if, while on one hand, the idea of the "Ether" has
been successfully dismissed in physics, on the other modern
physical theorists have evolved the ether into sophisticated
The center of the book contains a series of 12 glossy-colored
plates spread across 8 pages. These include gorgeous imagery
from Scanning-Tunneling Microscopes and supercomputer simulations
of atomic and other sub-microscopic images along with intricate
fractals and uncanny Galactic Super clusters. Spectacular
photos brought to you by the Hubble Space Telescope add to
the repertoire of magnificent art in these plates.
uses in 5 pages to describe 9 major terms that are thematic
elements throughout the text. They are: Dimension, Field,
Hyperspace, Nothingness, Quantum, Space, Space-Time, and Vacuum.
The bibliography is a bounty of books, articles, and references
used in the development of the text. I strongly encourage
you to mine this section for seminal sources to further your
comes after my second reading and I eagerly anticipate my
third, fourth and fifth readings. But why stop there? Because
of his creative style and delivery, it was easy to connect
to Sten's fascination with the great mysteries of the infinite
heavens and the infinitesimal fabric of reality. I related
with his desire and intent of writing a book that comprehensively
pieces together diverse threads into an artful masterpiece.
A few last words to describe this wonderful work: `Patterns'
is beautifully written, thoroughly objective, cogent, technically
concise, conceptually accessible, and gives a succinct yet
coherent discourse of the deepest, most fundamental aspects
of physics. I think Patterns is a fitting landmark in the
broader path the aspiring autodidact chooses to follow. I
only wish I had written it...
honest..., December 30, 2002
By selfconscious (Las Vegas, Nevada USA)
gives us a non-academic perspective on a topic usually reserved
for ivory tower types. This view is welcome and friendly and
vulnerable. Sten courageously shares with us his fears and
disappointments as he delves ever deeper into a bottomless
subject. It's just so nice to hear someone admit to wishing
like heck that UFOs, etc were real, only to bite the epistemic
bullet and admit mundane reality appears to rule. What a let
down. And then what's left?...death itself awaits.
In very human terms Sten clues us in on the professional inside
information that astronomers chat about amongst themselves.
This is so neat! And Sten has no dogmatic axe to grind...none
so's you'd notice anyway. In a personal communication to me,
he kindly comfirmed this openness. He simply says, "Wait
and see..." With that conclusion, Sten has earned my
respect and gratitude.
I must also
insist, however, that careful examination of cosmological
opacity can very easily force our attention back unto human
affairs, where we can still effectively pursue improvements.
Prof. Munitz's conceptualization of the cosmos as a Boundless
Existence in his three final books helps assuage the fear
that Sten seems caught up in. I can recommend the Munitz books
as a serious source of comfort...even beyond the death that
looms so ominously.
of the Void, June 22, 2002
Frank Mccormick "Bookworm" (Williamstown, NJ United
I have a fascination
with nothing[ness]. PATTERNS IN THE VOID is therefore the
perfect addition to my collection of books concerned with
the void (THE HOLE IN THE UNIVERSE, THE BOOK OF NOTHING, etc.).
But beyond that it is a really interesting and deep book.
A combination of lyrical prose, cutting-edge science, personal
anecdotes, and philosophical musing conspire to create a thought-provoking
book that will change the way you look at the world around
you. Though at times morose, sometimes downright depressing,
it is still in the end a powerful and approachable addition
to the genre. Highly recommended.