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MannyRayner

Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

Le Système du monde

Le Système du monde - Roger Hahn RICHARD DAWKINS [for it is he]: Good evening, and welcome to Deity or Delusion? This week we have two guest stars, both famous people from the history of science and both native speakers of French! On my left, Pierre Simon Laplace, and on my right Georges Lemaître! Please give them a warm welcome.

[Audience claps politely]

DAWKINS: Thank you. Now, Monsieur Laplace -

LAPLACE: You should say "Monsieur le Marquis".

DAWKINS: I'm sorry?

LAPLACE: You should say "Monsieur le Marquis". Not "Monsieur". I 'ave been Marquis since 1817.

DAWKINS: Ah... right. Monsieur le Marquis, you have been know to express doubts about the existence of God. On one occasion, when the Emperor Napoléon asked you what role God played in your theories, you replied, "Sire, I have found no need of that hypothesis".

LAPLACE: Zis, I 'ave never said.

DAWKINS: But William Herschel claims in his diary -

LAPLACE: I 'ave known l'Empereur long time. I examine 'im as young soldier in 1785. Because of me 'e becomes lieutenant. I serve in 'is government, briefly as ministre de l'interieur, after as President of ze Sénat. I dedicate to him my book on probability.

DAWKINS: That's very interesting, but -

LAPLACE: Many people jealous of my, 'ow you say, influence. Zey spread ze stories about me.

DAWKINS: Yes, well, I'm sure that may be true, but maybe we can get back to this point later in the show. Now I'm going to give our other guest a chance. Monsieur Lemaître -

LAPLACE: You should say "Monsignor". 'E eez important person in la hiérarchie du Vatican.

DAWKINS: Ah... absolutely. Thank you for that clarification. Monsignor Lemaître, you are a Catholic priest who spent his life convincing other scientists that the Biblical story of Creation was literally true. You were so successful that the Big Bang theory you invented is now -

LEMAÎTRE: Zis eez completely incorrect.

DAWKINS: I beg your pardon?

LEMAÎTRE: It eez true zat I am Catholic priest. And it eez true zat I help invent ze théorie of ze universe in expansion. As my old friend Fred Hoyle used to say to tease me, ze théorie Big Bang. But, for me la réligion and la science, zey are completely different. I -

LAPLACE: Un moment. You say l'univers it eez in expansion? But 'ow you explain zis from the laws of Newton? In my Mécanique Céleste, I demonstrate la stabilité du système solaire...

LEMAÎTRE: Since you died, Monsieur le Marquis, 'ave been many interesting développements! Now, we 'ave les équations d'Einstein. Let me write...

LAPLACE: Ah, vraiment interessant!

LEMAÎTRE: And now you see, with zis transformation, we have ze métrique comme ça...

LAPLACE: Très, très jolie! But, eez it not more simple to derive la formule like zis?

LEMAÎTRE: Ah oui, absoluement! Much more simple! But now...

DAWKINS: Wait. About God...

LEMAÎTRE: Please, Monsieur Dawkins, you will excuse. We are both mathématiciens, we 'ave much to talk about. As I say, encore une transformation...