Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Elegant Theory

Do you like puzzles? Science? Mysteries? This book is all of those.

An Elegant Theory by Noah Mulligan



"Coulter Zahn sees reality differently than others. Much like light can theoretically be in all places at once, Coulter sees multiple versions of his life. A promising PhD candidate at MIT, he and his young wife are nervously expecting their first child. When his dissertation comes under intense criticism, his estranged mother returns, and Sara tells him she's leaving him, Coulter's already delicate mental state becomes further fragmented. One evening, with his life and mental health unraveling, Coulter loses control, irreparably changing the course of the lives around him. But the very next morning, he catches a break in his research, discovering the true shape of the universe. Influenced by those around him and his own untrustworthy psyche, Coulter must decide whether to face the consequences of his actions or finish his research, perhaps making the greatest contribution to science since Einstein's theory of relativity. An existential psychological thriller, An Elegant Theory explores how the construction of memory and consciousness can shape motive, guilt, and identity through the lens of a modern-day mad-scientist motif."

Did you know "an elegant theory" is, well an actual theory? I didn't know that until I told someone the title of the book I was reading and was told oh yes, they knew what that was.

From Wiki:

"In the philosophy of science, there are two concepts referring to two aspects of simplicity. Elegance (syntactic simplicity) means the number and complexity of hypotheses. Parsimony (ontological simplicity) is the number and complexity of things postulated."

"In engineering, a solution may be considered elegant if it uses a non-obvious method to produce a solution which is highly effective and simple. An elegant solution may solve multiple problems at once, especially problems not thought to be inter-related."

"In chemistry, chemists might look for elegance in theory and method, in technique and procedure. For example: elegance might comprise creative parsimony and versatility in the utilization of resources, in the manipulation of materials, and in effectiveness in syntheses and analysis."

This book was very interesting. It is definitely a psychological thriller. We are told many things that have happened in Coulter's life that contradict each other. I found myself wondering if these were parallel universes such as Coulter's research suggested, was Coulter hallucinating or daydreaming and if so, which were reality.

I really enjoyed this book because it did make you think.  It is different than any other mystery I have read, throwing in some facts about String Theory and Quantum Physics. Those are some things I would never read on my own.

Here is some info on the author:

"Noah Milligan splits his time between words and numbers and is a longtime student of physics, prompting him to write his debut novel, An Elegant Theory, a draft of which was shortlisted for the 2015 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including MAKE, Storyscape Literary Journal, Empty Sink Publishing, and Santa Clara Review. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Central Oklahoma, and he lives in Edmond, OK, with his wife and two children."

This is a book you very well may go back and read again.

I received a free copy.

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