PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewHalpern skillfully brings [Gamow and Hoyle\'s] fascinating stories to light ... Halpern also poses fundamental questions about how science should be done ... Throughout the book, Halpern provides many helpful metaphors and analogies ... Halpern doesn’t shy away from the characters’ flaws. In particular, he shows how Hoyle’s work later in life lay on the fringes of physics.
PositiveNatureCanales explores so many fields and societal implications of scientific debates, from atomic bombs to stock-market fluctuations, that she seems to weave in nearly every demon reference of the past four centuries, however tangential. Some meandering historical asides stray from her solid survey of seminal demonic invocations ... Her history would have benefited from an exploration of the disputes between astrology and science in the medieval period, such as those between figures such as Abu Rayhan al-Biruni and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) in Persia ... Carl Sagan wrote that because scientists frequently use their imagination in their work, they don’t know what to expect as they push against the boundaries of knowledge. Canales has given us a glimpse into this haunted realm.
PositiveNatureThe book has a few minor shortcomings. Becker gives too much space to recent applications building on Bell’s research, and too little to new developments in the philosophy of science. Yet he, like cosmologist Sean Carroll in his 2016 The Big Picture, does make an explicit case for the importance of philosophy. That’s a key call, with influential scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson dismissing the discipline as a waste of time. What Is Real? is an argument for keeping an open mind. Becker reminds us that we need humility as we investigate the myriad interpretations and narratives that explain the same data.