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Paperback A Beginner's Guide to Immortality : Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection Book

ISBN: 1560259841

ISBN13: 9781560259848

A Beginner's Guide to Immortality : Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection

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Book Overview

A Beginner's Guide to Immortality is a celebration of unusual lives and creative thinkers who punched through ordinary cultural norms while becoming successful in their own niches. In his latest and greatest work, world-renowned science writer Cliff Pickover studies such colofrul characters as Truman Capote, John Cage, Stephen Wolfram, Ray Kurzweil, and Wilhelm Rontgen, and their curious ideas. Through these individuals, we can better explore life's...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Gardens of Gilgamesh

In "Sex, Drugs, Einstein & Elves" Cliff Pickover revealed a side of his personality that was well-camouflaged in his first thirty some-odd books on mathematics, time travel, fractals, aliens, patterns, puzzles, God, etc. Indeed, writing so many books in such a short time may be the root cause of his now irrepressible eclecticism. This latest effort, "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Aliens Brains, and Quantum Resurrection," has many similarities to SDE & E. Not only is it written with an exuberance that complements the author's multi-dimensional perspective, the prose remains clear and accessible even as Pickover explores the complex reaches of transcendental reality. One of the highlights of "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" is Chapter 3, "Gilgamesh, God, and the Language of Angels." Pickover confesses that the "Epic of Gilgamesh" is one of his deepest obsessions. And we get a feel for his zeal as he recounts the ancient Mesopotamian king's search for immortality. But there is also a lot of extraneous material in this chapter. It's a virtual Mind Salad of eclecticism. Pickover's brain is fizzing with ideas and impressions, perhaps as a result of his relentless work ethic and voracious reading habits, and they seem to inundate his consciousness as he writes. I find this stimulating. Others may differ, wishing instead for a simpler, more direct narrative line. At his best, Pickover's mind is encyclopedic -- correction: it's Wikipedic! It's Google-alien! Who else would focus on "The Brain from Planet Arous" in a chapter about Truman Capote? But Pickover does, and it can be fascinating because you get a completely different mental picture once you exit Truman Capote's peculiar oeuvre and enter the zany universe of Fifties science-fiction flicks, of which Pickover is a connoisseur. He loves the movies themselves, but also their filmmakers and the whole idea that some P.T. Barnum showman could make some outrageous, low-budget, horror-show hokum with B-list actors and still turn a tidy profit. But Pickover can also be deadly serious, and I find this quote from "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft, (which also appears in Chapter 3) to be quite haunting: "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We lie on the placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." After reading "A Beginner's Guide to Immortality" you may suspect that Cliff Pickover actually wants "the human mind to correlate all its contents." Which could be precisely wh

My brain is glowing

Pickover knows just what to say to kickstart the parts of your brain you haven't even used yet. Reading this book is like taking a walking tour through the magical zone where your life and reality and history and b-movies intersect. Educational, hilarious, mind-blowing, engaging and full of zest and zing, Pickover punctuates his prose with trenchant quotes aplenty. The thing you learn quick when traveling in the Pickover realm is that your brain is always growing and learning, and there is no limit to how far we can go. This guy's also got a generous heart and spirit, you can feel it in the words he writes, and that sort of hawk-eyed optimism for a transcendental, trans-dimensional future is damned contagious. I read this book and I feel like whatever happens, the collective mass of DNA we call the world/self is gonna be not only fine but blazin'! Plus it's light (nice soft pages) and has cool purple cover, with a skull!

One of the Most Fascinating Books That I've Ever Read!

I really loved *A Beginner's Guide to Immortality*! Clifford Pickover summarized so many thought-provoking and mind-expanding ideas in this book that I thought my head might explode. I simply couldn't put this book down. Every page is bursting with so many creative ideas that I actually had to close my eyes every few minutes just to think about the implications of what he was saying. This book really expanded my perception of reality. Very highly recommended reading!

A Fun and Fascinating Read

I just finished Pickover's book and like the way he bridges all sorts of different ideas, interspersed with great quotes form notables. For example, he weaves the lives of famous authors, Science Fiction Films, anthropologists, philosophers, scientists, mind altering drugs, mathematical equations into a fascinating and fun discovery of ideas and notions I never would have thought about. Particularly interesting are the strange, quirky and addictive habits and coincidences of highly creative people. As a non-academic, he made many topics easily accessible and a blast to read. I like the way he goes off on tangents, as they are always interesting. Any scientist who entertains notions of parallel universes, DMT ingestion, liver divination and intelligent design (to name a few) is OK in my book. Enjoy.

Live forever?

Live forever? Isn't that what immortality is all about? Well, yes and no. In this delightful new book by Clifford Pickover, the author explores many routes to immortality. This book continues the explorations that the author began in his previous "Sex, Drugs, Einstein & Elves." Throughout, he interweaves themes on the nature of reality, people of genius, and of course how to achieve immortality. Early on, Pickover casts doubt on the thesis that you can achieve immortality by creating a work of literature. He lists a sampling of best-sellers from 1950. Most are not known today. Other more exotic routes to immortality may be through the quantum theory of many worlds. In one of these you may never die. Too bad it is not the one that you live in now. We may all have our thoughts replicated in the storage of a massive computer. Or better yet, there are enough stray electrical impulses in a cubic mile of lime Jell-O to mimic our thought processes so that we might find our eternity there. If this is too mechanistic for you, there remains the religious concept of an afterlife in heaven or perhaps in hell if you do not qualify for heaven. On every page of this book, you can find a new idea explored. Are we at the beginning or the end of the human species? Can we actually be living in a simulation like that in the "Matrix" movie? Are people with additional fingers smarter? Where are the "missing links" in the record of evolution? There is a mechanism that Pickover begins to explore at the end of the book. We are all linked to each other by the threads of our relationships. What is the Internet if not an instantiation of a giant network of relationships? I used to think that writing your name on a web page was like writing your name in sand at the beach. However, now I am not so sure. Nothing ever seems to go away on the web. Perhaps, we are now finding our way to immortality in the sum of our ever-increasing Google hits.
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