The Pursuit of Destiny: A History of Prediction


In The Pursuit of Destiny, physicist Paul Halpern brings a scientist's eye to questions of time and fate, tracing the history of forecasting from its roots in ancient mysticism to its development as a modern science. As Halpern explains, the desire to foretell the future is an integral part of what makes us human. Newtonian mechanics offered the tantalizing possibility of describing nature as a clockwork mechanism, but twentieth-century scientific discoveries, such as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Einstein's flexible concepts of past, present, and future, undermined this rigid notion. Scientists today grapple with formidable barriers to knowledge, hoping to extend prediction's frontiers. Drawing on modern theories of complexity, chaos theory, quantum theory, and relativity, Halpern explores the latest methods of scientific, social, and technological forecasting. How much of the future is inevitable? When are predictions most likely to succeed? Does time even exist? An intriguing look at the potential limits to our ability to forecast, The Pursuit of Destiny is an eloquent testament to our very human need to try.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Cambridge, MA
Publication year:
  • 2000


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