29. A walk across the universe

Potter: You Are Here cover“Why is there something rather than nothing?” asked the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz several centuries ago. It’s one of the main questions animating Christopher Potter‘s first book, You Are Here. And given that there is something, how did it come into being? And how for that matter did we come into being, several billions of years after the universe began?

These are some of the potentially dizzying questions that set Christopher’s investigation of the universe and our place in it in motion. This “portable history of the universe” ranges in its purview from the infinitely large and far away – distances measured in billions of light years – to the infinitely small (which he calls “the realm of tininess”), which is equally important to our understanding of how the universe works.

The book also has fascinating things to say about the origins of life, the scientific mindset and the way in which human consciousness is “woven into the fabric of the universe”, as Freeman Dyson put it. (Potter cites Schrödinger’s memorable observation that without any comprehending consciousness in the universe, the great performance plays to empty stalls.)

In the interview he tells me how the impulse to write the book came out of a period of crisis in his own life.  That only makes the cogency and élan with which the book is written all the more remarkable.

In addition to the main podcast, which you can hear by clicking the ‘Play’ icon at the top of this post, there are also a couple of audio extras: Christopher explains the title of the book here. And if you click here you can listen to him reading an extract from the book. I’ll be posting a link to a video interview shortly.

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  1. Books of the Decade - Christopher Potter - 1 December 2009

    […] In August, Christopher appeared in programme 29 on Podularity – “A Walk across the Universe” – which you can listen to by clicking here. […]

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