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  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241310946
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $45.00

The Science of Can and Can't

A Physicist's Journey Through the Land of Counterfactuals




A luminous guide to how the radical new science of counterfactuals can reveal the full scope of our universe

There is a vast class of properties, which science has so far neglected, that relate not only to what is true - the actual - but to what could be true: the counterfactual. This is the science of can and can't.

A pioneer in the field, Chiara Marletto explores the extraordinary promise that this revolutionary approach holds for confronting existing technological challenges, from delivering next-generation processors to designing AI. But by contemplating the possible as well as the actual, Marletto goes deeper still, showing how counterfactuals can break down barriers to knowledge and form a more complete, abundant and rewarding picture of the universe itself.

  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241310946
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $45.00

Praise for The Science of Can and Can't

Clear, sharp and imaginative... The Science of Can and Can't will open the doors to a dazzling set of concepts and ideas that will change deeply the way you look at the world

David Deutsch, author of The Beginning of Infinity

I enjoyed this book very much, not least because of the freshness of its approach to a subject that can easily become hard for the non-scientific mind to grasp. The theory of 'can and can't' is an intriguing way of describing problems that are not only scientific (it describes very well what a storyteller does, for instance), and Marletto's account of some things I thought I more or less understood (the nature of digital information, for one) illuminated them from an angle that showed them more clearly than I'd seen them before.

Philip Pullman

A revolutionary recasting of physics... [It] re-enchants the world and enriches our place in it.

New Scientist

Hugely ambitious, Chiara Marletto is the herald for a revolutionary new direction for physics. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of physics

Professor Lee Smolin, author of Time Reborn

Chiara Marletto writes well about deep issues. I particularly like her suggestion that the current impasse in attempts to unite gravity and quantum mechanics might be broken if we concentrate on what things the two theories tell us can and can't be done

Julian Barbour, author of The Janus Point

[Marletto] calls for physics to move beyond its dependence on such conditions and rules as Newton's laws of motion, argues that the "traditional conception" of physics is limiting, and urges that counterfactuals offer a more complete picture of the physical world. Marletto leads a whirlwind tour of such scientific concepts as motion and the possibility of a perpetual motion machine; thermodynamics and "the theory of the universal constructor"; and quantum computing and the possibility of a universal quantum computer that uses "all of quantum theory"

Publishers Weekly

Chiara Marletto is trying to build a master theory - a set of ideas so fundamental that all other theories would spring from it. Her first step: Invoke the impossible

Quanta Magazine

Novel and interesting

Priyamvada Natarajan, Wall Street Journal

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