Life Is Simple

How Occam's Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781541620438

USD: $18.99  /  CAD: $22.99

ON SALE: September 28th 2021

Genre: Nonfiction / Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects


A biologist argues that simplicity is the guiding principle of the universe
Centuries ago, the principle of Ockham’s razor changed our world by showing simpler answers to be preferable and more often true. In Life Is Simple, scientist Johnjoe McFadden traces centuries of discoveries, taking us from a geocentric cosmos to quantum mechanics and DNA, arguing that simplicity has revealed profound answers to the greatest mysteries. This is no coincidence. From the laws that keep a ball in motion to those that govern evolution, simplicity, he claims, has shaped the universe itself. And in McFadden’s view, life could only have emerged by embracing maximal simplicity, making the fundamental law of the universe a cosmic form of natural selection that favors survival of the simplest. Recasting both the history of science and our universe’s origins, McFadden transforms our understanding of ourselves and our world.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Reader Reviews


“In LIFE IS SIMPLE, geneticist Johnjoe McFadden offers a breezy but well-researched look at how the razor has inspired some of science’s biggest ideas…his examples illustrate with persuasive power how ‘simplicity continues to present us with the most profound, enigmatic and sometimes unsettling insights’ into how the universe works.” 
 —Scientific American
"The most sheerly enjoyable history of science of recent years."—Simon Ings, The Spectator (UK)
With flair and accessibility, McFadden walks readers through Occam’s many intellectually revolutionary ideas...A dense, provocative, and satisfying foray into the history of science.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A compelling assessment of an idea many of us know but few deeply understand.”—John Keogh, Booklist
“Occam’s razor, like Hobson’s choice and Schrödinger’s cat, is a phrase that’s entered the language. We know more or less what it means without necessarily knowing anything about its inventor or realising the immense power it has as a philosophical and scientific principle. LIFE IS SIMPLE describes brilliantly the context in which William of Occam lived and worked, and the transforming effect that his simple-seeming doctrine has had on the development of our understanding of nature and the universe."—Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy
“Original and profound.”
 —Jim al-Khalili, author of The World According to Physics and Life on the Edge
“I found myself captured by the central premise: science, though perceived as complicated, is actually the pursuit of simplicity. The world is currently waking up to the complexities of science and its role in our world, and this book is an enlightening aid to that new understanding."—Michael Brooks, author of 13 Things that Don’t Make Sense
Read More Read Less