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Supersymmetry:  Microperceptions in a Theory of Everything
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Gordon Kane
Supersymmetry (Cambridge, Mass:  Helix/Perseus, 2000. 199p.)

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This was one of a series of science books I bought in 2002-3, and have been gradually reading. along with others I got along the way on various topics of science. I got to this one in June 2006.

Kane presents a thoughtful and understandable review of the current attempts to formulate a general Theory of Everything.  His focus is on explaining the concept and broad theory of "Supersymmetry," based on the concept of a symmetrical relationship between elements of the universe and a balance of forces and matter.

The approach in Supersymmetry is to achieve clarity by a regularity and consistency of explanation that can then be extended to account for all specific cases and situations now known or as new ones are discovered.  Kane provides a good explanation of the varieties of String Theory, one of the approaches to a Theory of Everything.  This explanation made more sense than previous books I have read.

Kane's way of explaining provides good visual and verbal pictures, without compromising the character of the theory under scrutiny.  He uses lots of diagrams, and while he uses math and refers to the mathematical explanations, he is very practical and explains what the math is doing at each stage.  That is, we learn what all this is trying to account for, what factors have to be taken into account at each stage of investigation.  

He refers to other prominent and knowledgeable writers, and builds explanations around anecdotes and public events.  This story-telling approach gets the reader involved in the mystery of the search.  This helps make sense of some of the steps taken and some of the tentative answers or theories that often don't make sense without their context.  

Kane's helpful summary of the history of scientific discovery and development of explanatory theories is very helpful in understanding the new theoretical physics where so much creative and thoughtful work is being done.

The problems being addressed in Supersymmetry and other approaches to a Theory of Everything are complex, since they deal with a level of reality smaller than the human senses can detect directly.  Theorized aspects of reality are still being searched for, but these depend on the ongoing development of instruments that can "see" [detect] at smaller and smaller level, extending ever further the human perception of sub-atomic reality.

One aspect he clarifies is that theoretical physics is still based on the basic scientific premise of experimental evidence.  From reading numerous other books by and about Theoretical Physics and Quantum Mechanics, I have had some doubts about the experimental basis of current theoretical physics.  Kane explains the levels of primary and secondary evidence and the perceptions tese provide.  I have not seen this addressed, at least directly.  Kane's explanations of procedure and method clarify many aspects not commonly known about the current state of particle physics in relation to cosmology.

In that regard he outlines what areas of possible knowledge he feels have now been exhausted and which will continue to need and provide development and further knowledge about our universe.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Blurring the Sci Fi Boundary
A Real-Science Time Travel Plan!

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First written and posted on Amazon.Com 14 June 2006
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 27 November 2006
Last edited 24 September 2007

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

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