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Anyone read Schild's Ladder

  1. Oct 21, 2004 #1
    Anyone read "Schild's Ladder"

    I am currently reading Schild's Ladder, an incredibly well-thought-out sci-fci book from 1961 by Greg Egan. What really amazes me about this guy is just how visionary and intellegent his theories were regaurding quantum physics, the state of life in the Galaxy 20,000 years from now, and a multitude of other conditions/understandings within the universe that in certain ways seem quite possible. I am wondering if anyone else has read this book, because honestly, am sometimes confused from time to time while reading through his long, often complex explanations. The whole "slowdown" experience described in chapter six for example, has me scratching my head in a few places. If you like science fiction that really explores "science" more than you're usual sci-fci/action novel, this book is for you. I don't understand all of Egan's concepts yet, but that is one of the great joys in reading his work- you really have to think and sometimes even do outside research to fully comprehend where he's coming from. Also, I don't recommend this novel for casual or easily distracted readers, because you will at times, get frusterated with his 'jumpy' writing style (at least I did in a few places). If you have read this book, I'd like to get your take on it, and maybe even some opinions on the relevence of his ideas today, i.e. the "Quantum Graph", or the QUSP. What do you think? :bugeye:
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  3. Oct 22, 2004 #2


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    Schild's Ladder is great, one of my favorite books, but it's not from 1961; it's only a couple of years old. Schild's Ladder, the original, is from 1970, and is a construction for doing parallel transport in General Relativity (Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, Gravitation Box 10.2). Egan adopted it as a metaphor for how to keep yourself stable over a long lifetime of radical changes.

    As you say the vision of the deep physics - and life! - of the universe just shows how feeble are most of the popular space operas today.
  4. Oct 23, 2004 #3


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    Rovelli cites Schild Ladder

    you might be interested in what Rovelli has to say
    he likes the book a lot and claims it has something to do with Loop QG.

    he talks about it in his new book Quantum Gravity
    and also lists it as "Further Reading" in his article "Loop Quantum Gravity"
    in the November 2003 issue of Physics World. As Rovelli
    cites it:
    G Egan 2001 Schild Ladder(Gollancz, London)

    Must have been republished in 2001 then.

    Here's the link to the Physics World article
    It is the best online general audience treatment of LQG I have seen.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  5. Oct 23, 2004 #4


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    I may have not been clear. The original Schild's Ladder was in a 1970 scientific paper by Schild, not a novel, and was as I said a construction in GR. The paper was cited by MTW, and the construction reproduced in one of their boxes. After 2000, Greg Egan published a new work, a novel, called Schild's Ladder and using the construction as a theme.
  6. Oct 25, 2004 #5
    I think I understand. Egan based his novel on an actual theory in cosmology that he himself believes may be true. That's why he can explain it in such incredible detail I suppose. To take a complicated theory like Quantum Loop Gravity and use it for the basis of a S.F. novel is really remarkable, since the fact-based theories and the entirely imagined elements (slowdown being one) blend in so well together. It implies that fact can sometimes be stranger than fiction, or as strange.
  7. Nov 19, 2004 #6
    I'd like to add my recommendation of this book. I think I liked it a bit less than "Diaspora" and "Permutation City", but everything by Egan is worth reading. Several of his short stories are online here:


    IMHO, Egan's books and stories are both very interesting and (unlike, say, Star Trek) very relevant to the actual future. Read them, unless you're allergic to new ideas.

    (edit: the book is from 2001. Egan was born in 1961, so maybe that's where the confusion came from.)
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2004
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