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Publisher's Summary

One of our great contemporary scientists reveals the 10 profound insights that illuminate what everyone should know about the physical world

In Fundamentals, Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek offers the listener a simple yet profound exploration of reality based on the deep revelations of modern science. With clarity and an infectious sense of joy, he guides us through the essential concepts that form our understanding of what the world is and how it works. Through this audiobook, we come to see our reality in a new way - bigger, fuller, and stranger than it looked before.

Synthesizing basic questions, facts, and dazzling speculations, Wilczek investigates the ideas that form our understanding of the universe: time, space, matter, energy, complexity, and complementarity. He excavates the history of fundamental science, exploring what we know and how we know it, while journeying to the horizons of the scientific world to give us a glimpse of what we may soon discover. Brilliant, lucid, and accessible, this celebration of human ingenuity and imagination will expand your world and your mind. 

This audiobook includes a PDF of tables from the book. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Frank Wilczek (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A gorgeous and inviting overview of the fundamental facts of physical reality.” (Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now)

“This is an exuberant, gorgeously crafted, and intellectually thrilling book, written by one of our greatest living scientists yet hospitable to all. To be reminded that time and space, mystery and order, are so much stranger and more generous than we can comprehend - this is a gift to public life and moral imagination in a young century where what is visible and tangible feels chaotic and constricting. This book is also unexpectedly spiritually thrilling. Wilczek makes the remarkable move of picking up and evolving the classic scientists’ faith that their investigations would reveal the mind of our maker, as well as Einstein’s self-described ‘cosmic spiritual sensibility.’ What began as an exposition, as Wilzcek writes, ‘grew into a contemplation.’ The result is a profoundly enriched understanding, accessible to the religious and non-religious alike, of what it means to be human - and what we might be pointing at when we use the word God.” (Krista Tippett, host of On Being and author of Becoming Wise)  

"If you were to go back just two hundred years and tell people what we knew, from the origins of the universe to the molecular basis of life, and how weird and unintuitive nature is at the atomic scale, they would think we were crazy. But if you showed them what we have created with that knowledge, they would think we were magicians. In this engaging and highly accessible book, Frank Wilczek shows how the vast edifice that is modern science was constructed with only a few ingredients and assumptions, but depended crucially on a way of thinking—about the nature of evidence and how it applied to the world around us. Anyone interested in the underlying basis of the complexity of today’s science will enjoy this book.” (Venki Ramakrishnan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and author of Gene Machine)    

What listeners say about Fundamentals

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  • 01-13-21

Precious knowledge explained well

I love the content - beautiful. What's odd is the rising inflection in the middle of sentences, creating questions where none was intended. Listen to the full sample and you'll hear it in a few places, and believe me it gets a lot worse in the rest of the book where the content is scientific. Its effect is to cast a blanket of doubt on the author's math and science. But the author has great clarity and you'll appreciate that.

Sure a lot went over my head, but I think I could grasp all of it if I knew how to cancel out the rising inflections also known as uptalk. The author describes space, time, energy and matter in a way that invites your own visualization techniques, and it's powerful.



10 people found this helpful

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Physicist maybe, but no theologian!

Foolish effort to compare a domain he studied deeply (physics) to one that he seems to have grasped barely at all (theology). More significantly, he seems confused by how to relate these two domains.
Because of this a delightful book becomes tedious

7 people found this helpful

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Easy to understand for a beginner in Physics

The format of the book was great. Every chapter had about an hour or less of audio so it was easy to listen in multiple short sessions. If you are interested in Quantum dynamics this is the best first step i coul recommend for a beginner as me.

6 people found this helpful

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Is this for kindergarteners?

Wilczek has the ability to explain very complex physics to the lay person. This audible has nothing to do with that. It's an attempt at artistic writing that turns quickly into long-winded, somewhat unfocused thoughts that end up nowhere. I don't know who the target audience for this was, but I can't imagine it being for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of reality in any sense that Wilczek has insights to deliver.

6 people found this helpful

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Machina est Deus

Mildly interesting science wrapped in a cloud of religious scientism that makes banal overtures of even-handedness toward religion while violating even the "you can't get an ought from an is" axiom. I should have read something else.

6 people found this helpful

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Another repetitive book of scientific facts

There is a pandemic of unoriginal "authors" that like to get credit and recognition by regurgitating text books and what real authors from the not too distant past said/explained already. I couldn't pass chapter one without thinking about the works of Sagan, Krauss, Kaku, NDT, Greene and many others.
Not worth it.

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On second read,,,,,will read again

For a novice like me this was a little overwhelming. So I am reading again. Have been exposed to the main concepts before but this book tends to make things clearer. Also It attempts to bring all disciplines together which is what I have been trying to do: science, religion, art, literature, music, etc. Also see his interview with Robert Wright.

4 people found this helpful

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This book is for someone, just not for me

This book mainly discusses fundamental concepts of physics both at the very small (quantum) and at the very large (astronomical) levels. The author has divided the book into chapters covering broad concepts, which felt like nice organization. However, as I read each chapter, I felt like I was being rocketed from a very basic, broad overview and metaphor to intense, dense science very quickly without much transition between the two. This led my experience to vacillate between feeling bored/impatient ("get to the science already!") and utterly confused ("wait... what the heck does that mean? What did the last paragraph even say? How does this relate at all to the beginning of this chapter?").

That said, I know from past experience I have an incredibly hard time grasping physics concepts beyond the basic realm of Newton's laws. I majored in human biology, and avoided physics as much as possible. I was hoping this book would help me fill in the gaps, but perhaps that was simply an unfair expectation. I do plan to recommend this book to my father, who perfectly fits the intended audience that the author described in his introduction (an intelligent, educated person with a spotty/outdated background in physical science who's interested in the state of physics today).

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Must read for all who exist in this universe!

This is an incredible guide to All things fundamental in this universe. it is easy to understand, has an accompanying PDF with good illustrations, it's a must-read for all who exists in this universe.

3 people found this helpful

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Best layman's guide to quantum physics I have read

An excellent book to stretch the mind a little, or a lot, depending on your starting point.

2 people found this helpful