The Recursive Universe:
Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge

by William Poundstone


Isaac Asimov:

"Poundstone has chosen a startlingly innovative and fascinating way of discussing the deepest problems of existence and knowledge by interweaving a consideration of the Universe and simple, mathematical games such as 'Life.' Absolutely illuminating."


Martin Gardner:

"Poundstone's book is a fantastic explosion of intellectual fireworks. Taking off from John Conway's amazing computer game of Life, in which incredibly complex and beautiful patterns emerge from childishly simple simple recursive 'transition rules,' the reader quickly finds himself on a mind-dazzling trek through the exciting, controversial jungles of modern physics. The journey culminates in a Leibnizian vision of a recursive universe. Like Conway's game, our world may be one of perhaps an infinite variety of possible worlds, monstrously complex, but unrolling in obedience to a simple set of logically consistent rules. The book is not only essential for all Lifenthusiasts. It should be read by anyone concerned with the awesome philosophical implications of today's physics and cosmology."


Los Angeles Times Book Review:

"The work is a tour de force in every area it touches, and it touches some of the most important and deepest thinking of the 20th century. This highly original and creative work provides a new way of looking at familiar facts. . . . Poundstone's book is a science writer's ideal, satisfying to both specialist and amateur."


Douglas Hofstadter:

"a superlative account of the miracle of reductionism . . . Poundstone does a masterful job of explaining how it all comes about."