Science 2.0 is all about making a difference in a positive way, bringing lots of people in the world together to talk with each other about science. We're the only open science site of decent size, meaning you don't have to be famous or bring a large audience to get invited, you just sign up and write science, so participation and communication are key to the Science 2.0 concept.
Some people, though, don't want to discuss science as much as advocate logical quirkiness and mathematical trickery of their own, a kind of vanity science. So conservation of energy, the First Law of Thermodynamics, gets some play from the anti-physics crowd, and the Second Law, entropy, gets some play from the anti-biology crowd. Usually those people get chased out rather quickly, even if they thought they wanted validation from scientists and a science audience.
Due to that popularity, we also get a lot of books to review. If you're a Science 2.0 member in the US and want to help review, let me know. Personally, I only review a book it if is good. Book authors work hard, they are trying to find an audience and if it is just not science or something along those lines, it may be interesting but we have little reason to talk about it with a science audience. I read a book on pain by a well-meaning, knowledgeable expert, for example, but there isn't enough known science in pain management for me to write anything constructive on that so I didn't write anything.
But sometimes the hubris and crackpottery in a book is so over-the-top, I have to say something negative. If you're going to tell Stephen Hawking he is wrong, for example, you should bring your best game. I was not thrilled with Hawking adopting M-theory, for example, I sort of felt like he was giving up, but he is still Stephen Hawking and I am not - I wouldn't try to write a book disputing him without a decade of research first.
A Theory Of Everything should take quite a bit of time but if you could spend only 3 weeks writing a book on it, over 100,000 words, maybe it is worthwhile. To you. Not necessarily to the audience.
Scott M. Tyson did just that - he wrote a whole book on how physics is wrong in three weeks, called The Unobservable Universe. And it shows.
He says that we need to challenge physics as we were taught, because it's all wrong, but then says "Take my word for it" when he says something vague. He says "Determining the basic makeup of an atom of carbon was the easy part" even though it was not easy at all, it was revolutionary and quite difficult, and he just got done telling us everything we knew was wrong. Is it all wrong or is a carbon atom right and just easy?
He seems to have been inspired because he read Dr. Robert Lanza's "Biocentrism", a book we also did not review for the reasons above; no science. Huffington Post loves Lanza, of course, and if you are the audience for Deepak Chopra, Dr. Oz or any of the other Four Horsemen of the Alternative, HuffPo is the place to blog and read. Lanza's book was on quantum consciousness and essentially contended biology created the universe instead of the universe creating us. Tyson falls back on the anthropic principle also, stating the the probability of us being here is too small for it to be chance; without being able to do the simple reasoning that we are what we are because of what happened and how - who we are today was not a roadmap of science, it is instead a trail.
So Tyson seems to have found Lanza as an inspiration, 'he wrote a vague philosophy with no science needed so I can too' and then used Feynman as validation.
The great thing about an excellent communicator like Dr. Richard P. Feynman is that he was able to convey so many things in an elegant fashion. In the last decade he has finally gotten something approaching the level of respect he deserved all along. The downside is he said so many things that virtually anyone can quote mine him and find some way he agrees with them. In the top five ridiculous justifications for kooky science, not quite as overused as "Galileo was persecuted" and "Einstein was a patent clerk", invoking Feynmann is on the list in the last decade.
It's said in sports that the dingier the event, the better the announcer must dress. So in baseball the sportscaster might wear a coat or a tie and he might not but in club level boxing he will wear a tuxedo. So it goes with science - the lower level the thinking, the more people try to wear a Feynman tuxedo to give it some class.
But it doesn't work, no matter how many times he talks about the double slit experiment. When Tyson decides he should be able to violate the speed of light, for example, he just does, writing "With all due respect to these scientists, this is not the way I choose to see it." And he can do that, because he is the observer so he simply makes it so. The book is more Husserl philosophy thought experiments than science because you have to accept a fundamental assertion that he can't justify in order for everything else to work. If you don't agree with him, you get presented with the words 'dogma' and 'religion' to explain your unwillingness to accept his selective science which says if you can't explain a paradox, anything is possible.
Does he know any science? Sure. He's certainly a smart guy, just like plenty of readers and writers here who have known just enough to be wrong. He has an engineering degree but calls himself an "award-winning physicist". Engineering is physics, of course, but it feels as disingenuous as when lawyer Walter Wagner filed a lawsuit against the LHC and called himself Dr. due to the fact that a law degree, a J.D. in America, is a jurus doctorate. I have a lot of awards, I write on physics, I do amateur physics. This does not make me an actual award-winning physicist. Obviously Tyson could be an award-winning physicist but I can't find what these awards are for - his bio and site and marketing only say he is an award-winning physicist, no list is provided.
A lot of the book is very casual thought experiments and when he is trapped by science and still wants to move on, he writes "We'll just have to learn to live with it" rather than accepting his grand new cosmology may be just philosophy. The 'voidverse' can't wait, after all, and if you would just accept the voidverse and devote trillions of dollars to researching it, all the clean energy you could want is just waiting to be found. But mean old Big Science is too dogmatic if they don't accept that matter is not a property of mass, it is a property of space, namely of the voidverse that is part of the hemiverse that is simply not seen yet. No more LHC needed, let's shut that baby down!
Near the end of the book, he writes "I really hope Stephen Hawking is reading this chapter" but there is not much chance even a gracious thinker like Hawking made it past chapter two. If he was wiser than me, he flipped to a summary that turns out to be at the end. Then he could replace infinity with unity and explain how that can lead to perpetual motion and finally solve the mystery of black holes and the rest of physics the way Tyson does; by guessing.
Well, he doesn't call it guessing. He calls it his Laws of Bio-Quantum Relativity. But you get the idea.
Unobservable Universe, Unobservable Science