The One: How an Ancient Idea Holds the Future of Physics (Hardcover)
A "fascinating [and] provocative" argument by a particle physicist—marshalling a "heady mix of history, philosophy and cutting-edge theory" (Wall Street Journal)—for monism, the ancient idea about the universe that says, All is One
In The One, particle physicist Heinrich Päs presents a bold idea: fundamentally, everything in the universe is an aspect of one unified whole. The idea, called monism, has a rich three-thousand-year history: Plato believed that “all is one” before monism was rejected as irrational and suppressed as a heresy by the medieval Church. Nevertheless, monism persisted, inspiring Enlightenment science and Romantic poetry. Päs aims to show how monism could inspire physics today, how it could slice through the intellectual stagnation that has bogged down progress in modern physics and help the field achieve the grand theory of everything it has been chasing for decades.
Blending physics, philosophy, and the history of ideas, The One is an epic, mind-expanding journey through millennia of human thought and into the nature of reality itself.
Heinrich Päs is a professor of theoretical physics at TU Dortmund University in Germany. He has held positions at Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Hawai’i and has conducted research visits at CERN and Fermilab. He lives in Bremen, Germany.
“The history is thoroughly researched, the physics is cutting edge and Päs’s larger point resonates: much, or maybe all, of what we take for reality is an artifact of our limited perspectives.”—Scientific American
“Are we one with the universe? It is a question as old as mankind, as deep as a wormhole, and as broad as the infinitely branching possibilities of the many-worlds interpretation. But Päs is ready for the challenge and delivers an original and fresh account of both the history and the science of monism. An enticing read for those who seek to understand their place in nature—and who does not?”—Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Existential Physics
“Usually, we say the universe is made of particles, but Päs shows how quantum physics inverts that. The whole comes first, not the parts—the parts come from fragmenting the whole. I’ll never see reality the same way again!”—George Musser, author of Spooky Action at a Distance
“Päs delivers an entertaining and enlightening tour of physics, religion, and philosophy, yielding a monistic vision of fundamental reality as a vast unified whole: The One. In place of the pluralist image of a world composed from many little particles, Päs offers an image of one entangled cosmos from which all else emerges. The result is an important new program for physics based on quantum cosmology, from which space, time, particles, and all the rest are to be derived from the universal wave function via decoherence—a new hope for our understanding of fundamental reality.”—Jonathan Schaffer, Rutgers University