Peat, F. David 1938-
PEAT, F. David 1938-
PERSONAL: Born April 18, 1938, in Liverpool, England; son of Geoffrey John and Frances Marjorie (Lowe) Peat; married Frances Elizabeth Flavel (marriage ended); companion of Maureen Doolan (a writer); children: F. Sarah, J. C. Jason, V. E. Emma, Matthew S., Eleanor F. Education: University of Liverpool, B.Sc., 1960, M.Sc., 1962, Ph.D., 1964. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, music, talking with friends, camping near lakes and rivers.
CAREER: Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor, 1965-67; National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, research scientist, 1967-75; writer, consultant, and independent researcher, 1975—. Division of Theoretical Physics, Canadian Institute of Physics, chairman, 1990-92; Pari Center for New Learning, Pari, Italy, founder and director, 1996—. Guest on television and radio programs.
AWARDS, HONORS: Drama grant, Canada Council, 1987; Fetzer Foundation, travel grant, 1989-93; Nonfiction writing grant, Canada Council, 1990; World Academy of Art and Science, fellow, 1995.
(With Paul Buckley) A Question of Physics, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1979, revised and expanded edition published as Glimpsing Reality: Ideas in Physics and the Link to Biology, 1996.
The Nuclear Book, Deneau & Greenberg (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1979.
In Search of Nikola Tesla, Ashgrove Press, 1983, revised edition, 1989.
The Armchair Guide to Murder and Detection, Deneau Publishers (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1984.
Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Think, Baen Enterprises (New York, NY), 1985.
(Editor, with Basil Hiley) Quantum Implications: Essays in Honour of David Bohm, Routledge & Kegan Paul (New York, NY), 1987.
Synchronicity: The Bridge between Matter and Mind, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
(With David Bohm) Science, Order, and Creativity: A Dramatic New Look at the Creative Roots of Science and Life, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1987, 2nd edition, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000.
Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1988.
Cold Fusion: The Making of a Scientific Controversy, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1989.
(With John Briggs) Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1989.
Einstein's Moon: Bell's Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1990.
The Philosopher's Stone: Chaos, Synchronicity, and the Hidden Order of the World, illustrated by Alex Gordon, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Lighting the Seventh Fire: The Spiritual Ways, Healing, and Science of the Native American, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1994, revised edition published as Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe, Phanes Press (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.
(With Thomas W. Sokolowski) Todd Watts: New Lamps for Old, Grey Art Gallery (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Leroy Little Bear) Rituals of Renewal: Spiritual Transformation through Native American Tradition, Carol Publishing (Secaucus, NY), 1996.
Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm, Addison Wesley (Reading, MA), 1997.
(With John Briggs) Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Timeless Wisdom from the Science of Change, Harper-Collins Publishers (New York, NY), 1999.
The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind, Perseus Publications (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
The Return of the Sacred, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2002.
From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Joseph Henry Press (Washington, DC), 2002.
Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning, National Academy Press (Washington, DC), 2003.
Also author of "Communications" (stage play), produced in Ottawa, Ontario, at York Street Theatre, and author of radio documentaries and stage plays; contributor to Who's Afraid of Schrödinger's Cat?: Allthe New Science Ideas You Need to Keep Up with the New Thinking, by Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997. Contributor of articles to scientific journals and magazines.
SIDELIGHTS: After working for several decades in academia and government-supported research facilities, where he probed quantum theory and its link with general relativity, physicist F. David Peat became an independent researcher. In the process of his research and as an adjunct to it, Peat has written over a dozen books and scripts for radio and television programs. His self-initiated projects range from discussions of chaos theory, synchronicity, cold fusion, string theory, and a unified theory of the universe to creativity, Native American spirituality, morality, and the history of science. During a vacation in Italy, Peat struck upon the idea of creating a conference center in the Tuscan hills, and since then has managed the activities of the Pari Center, near Siena.
While teaching at Carleton University and working as a consultant for the Science Council of Canada, Peat decided to focus on writing. "I became a writer in part to convey my own enthusiasms," he remembered on his personal Web site. "I was writing for, and touching, people who were like me and were interested in exploring ideas. I also wrote because I wanted to understand things myself, and writing became a way of doing this." This decision led to his producing a regular stream of works during subsequent years.
In 1987 Peat wrote Science, Order, and Creativity: A Dramatic New Look at the Creative Roots of Science and Life with physicist David Bohm, a contemporary of Albert Einstein. Because the unconventional Bohm sought a unified vision of matter and mind, brain and consciousness, his theories were largely ignored by the scientific establishment during his lifetime but have been revisited during the twenty-first century. Peat wrote a biography of Bohm, whom he considered an inspiration for his own research into far-reaching realms of science, and revised the coauthored work in 2000. In the sympathetic biography Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm, Peat describes Bohm's turbulent childhood, scientific research, and lifelong bouts of depression, providing readers with "fascinating details of Bohm's life," to quote Choice reviewer M. Schiff. Peat based the work on his first-hand experience with Bohm as well as the recollections of friends, coworkers, and Bohm himself via tapes he had made. A number of critics appreciated this new insight into Bohm's life: Library Journal writer James Olson, for one, noted the "compassion and warmth" Peat expressed toward Bohm in what he dubbed an "excellent biography"; and Physics Today reviewer James T. Cushing remarked that Peat's book "helps give us a much fuller picture of Bohm than had previously been accessible." Noting the level of research into Bohm's life was Isis reviewer Alexei Kojevnikov, who described the work as a "nontechnical, sympathetic, but not uncritical biography … [that] is rich in important information that can be found nowhere else, although it is not always rigorously accurate in detail."
Despite its many assets, a number of reviewers expressed reservations about Peat's Science, Order, and Creativity. For example, "Peat does not always represent well Bohm's scientific work itself … or its subsequent impact," wrote Cushing, who added: "And the author frequently is sloppy with 'details' that may incline the reader to question his reliability on other matters." Although in the view of Science reviewer Sheldon Goldstein, Peat "beautifully develops the progression of Bohm's thought…. Peat's treatment of relevant physics is not always entirely accurate." "Bohm's science, … awaits another, more thorough analysis," concluded Kojevnikov.
In 1994 Peat investigated Native American methods and philosophies as they compared with those of Western cultures in Lighting the Seventh Fire: The Spiritual Ways, Healing, and Science of the Native American. In 2002 he published a revised edition of this work under the title Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe, about which C. L. Davies, writing in Choice, predicted that interested readers "will find this book insightful."
During the 1990s, Peat also published a number of titles having to do with what in popular parlance has become known as chaos theory, or the idea that turbulent phenomena are actually subject to some organizing protocol. Peat wrote two titles on the subject with John Briggs—Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness and Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Timeless Wisdom from the Science of Change. In the former the authors demonstrate how chaos theory has influenced other scientific disciplines, including psychology and research into artificial intelligence, while in the latter they attempt to help readers appreciate the interconnectedness of all things, increase creativity, and accept the ambivalence in their lives. In addition, Peat wrote the solo effort The Philosopher's Stone: Chaos, Synchronicity, and the Hidden Order of the World, in which he proposes ways to unify the physical, mental and spiritual. These works caught the attention of reviewers and the public. Bethany Lacina wrote in the Yale Review of Books that the "body of evidence [in Seven Life Lessons of Chaos is] … fairly impressive and interesting," yet the work as a whole is plagued by "superficiality." A Publishers Weekly reviewer similarly called this book "frustrating" and "intermittently suggestive." Conversely, Booklist contributor Patricia Monaghan called Seven Life Lessons of Chaos the "best book on chaos" to date for its combination of "factual exactitude and imaginative application."
Peat continued to write about uncertainty in the 2002 offering From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century, an "impressively wide-ranging study," according to Robert Matthews in the New Scientist. Drawing examples from art, psychology, philosophy, ecology, mathematics, computers, and physics, Peat shows how the idea of uncertainty has permeated society beginning in the twentieth century and resulting in a "mid-life crisis" in Western society. Peat also makes a few suggestions about how readers might adapt to the new society of ambiguity. As with Peat's previous works, this one elicited critical comments. For instance, Science reviewer John Gribbin found From Certainty to Uncertainty to be of uneven quality. He suggested that the work would have been stronger if Peat had provided more background information for his discussions. He asserted that the "book's strengths lie in the area where Peat is enthusiastic and working hard to make his case," while the opposite is true in areas of thought in which Peat has little interest. In addition, the critic contended that a "lack of detail and the nearly universal absence of diagrams to illustrate the points made" detract from the book's overall value. Choice reviewer F. Potter also took Peat to task for allegedly leaving unsupported some controversial viewpoints and applying "ideas beyond their normal range of validity." Even so, Potter described From Certainty to Uncertainty as a ride that takes readers on a "provocative, intellectual journey." Where that journey will take Peat next, is anyone's guess.
Peat once told CA: "I find the universe an exciting place to inhabit. Something new is always going on. Interconnections keep popping up, which lead to new ideas and experiences. At the moment I'm thinking about the creativity of the universe and its underlying ground, the relationship between language and reality, and between consciousness and the world. I'm also looking at the western scientific and the Native American perceptions of the universe. In addition, I am concerned about our relationships to nature and to each other; in this light, I'm exploring a new idea called 'gentle action.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, March, 1989, review of Super-strings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, p. 208.
Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August, 1985, review of Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Think, p. 178; June, 1988, review of Artificial Intelligence, p. 183; May, 2001, review of The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind, p. 132.
Bloomsbury Review, June, 1991, review of Einstein's Moon: Bell's Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality, p. 18.
Booklist, April 1, 1987, review of Synchronicity: The Bridge between Matter and Mind, p. 1155; December 1, 1989, review of Cold Fusion: The Making of a Scientific Controversy, p. 713; July, 1991, review of The Philosopher's Stone: Chaos, Synchronicity, and the Hidden Order of the World, p. 2017; January 1, 1999, Patricia Monaghan, review of Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Timeless Wisdom from the Science of Change, p. 798.
Book Report, May, 1990, review of Cold Fusion, p. 62; September, 1992, review of Einstein's Moon, p. 69.
Bookwatch, March, 1989, review of Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, p. 3; December, 1989, review of Cold Fusion, p. 4; February, 1990, review of Cold Fusion, p. 7.
Choice, October, 1989, K. L. Schick, review of Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness; October, 1996, L. W. Moore, review of Glimpsing Reality: Ideas in Physics and the Link to Biology; April, 1997, M. Schiff, review of Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm; June, 1999, E. Kincanon, review of Seven Life Lessons of Chaos; January, 2001, D. Topper, review of The Blackwinged Night; November, 2002, F. Potter, review of From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century; July, 2003, C. L. Davies, review of Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 1991, review of Cold Fusion, p. A5.
Contemporary Physics, May-June, 1986, K. Burnett, review of Looking Glass Universe: The Emerging Science of Wholeness, p. 281; July-August, 1992, P. L. Knight, review of Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, p. 280.
Creative Computing, June, 1985, Russ Lockwood, review of Artificial Intelligence, p. 16.
Discover, December, 1997, review of Infinite Potential, p. 72.
Isis, December, 1998, Alexei Kojevnikov, review of Infinite Potential, pp. 752-753.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1989, review of Cold Fusion, p. 1454.
Kliatt Paperback Book Guide, spring, 1985, review of Artificial Intelligence, p. 54.
Library Journal, November 15, 1987, Jack W. Weigel, review of Science, Order, and Creativity, p. 85; May 15, 1989, Laurie Tynan, review of Turbulent Mirror, p. 86; November 15, 1989, review of Cold Fusion, p. 104; August 1, 1991, G. Woodcock, review of The Philosopher's Stone, p. 139; November 1, 1996, James Olson, review of Infinite Potential, p. 105.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 3, 1988.
M2 Best Books, May 15, 2002, review of From Certainty to Uncertainty.
Nature, February 13, 1997, review of Infinite Potential, p. 592.
New Scientist, July 29, 1995, review of Blackfoot Physics, p. 41; November 16, 1996, review of Infinite Potential, p. 48; June 1, 2002, Robert Matthews, "The Way It Sort of Is," p. 54.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, summer, 2001, Daniel A. Albert, review of The Blackwinged Night, p. 449.
Physics Today, March, 1997, James T. Cushing, review of Infinite Potential, pp. 77-78.
Publishers Weekly, October 7, 1988, review of Super-strings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, p. 102; November 3, 1989, review of Cold Fusion, p. 76; October 14, 1996, review of Infinite Potential, p. 70; January 11, 1999, review of Seven Life Lessons of Chaos, p. 64; May 6, 2002, review of From Certainty to Uncertainty, p. 46.
School Library Journal, February, 1990, Douglas Stickle, review of Cold Fusion, pp. 122-123.
Science, March 28, 1997, Sheldon Goldstein, review of Infinite Potential, pp. 1893-1894; May 17, 2002, John Gribbin, "Consequence of the Unresolvable," review of From Certainty to Uncertainty, p. 1244.
Science Books & Films, March, 1991, review of Cold Fusion, p. 38; June, 1997, review of Infinite Potential, p. 137; special edition, 1998, review of Infinite Potential, p. 37; March, 2001, review of The Blackwinged Night, p. 72.
SciTech Book News, March, 1990, review of Cold Fusion, p. 11; January, 1991, review of Einstein's Moon, p. 9; March, 1997, review of Infinite Potential p. 20.
Times Literary Supplement, February 16, 1996, review of Blackfoot Physics, p. 6.
Village Voice Literary Supplement, July, 1987, review of Synchronicity, p. 3.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1985, review of Artificial Intelligence, p. 200.
Wall Street Journal, January 23, 1997, Jim Holt, "The Reality Vanishes," p. A14.
Washington Post Book World, July 23, 1989.
Yale Review of Books, spring, 1999, Bethany Lacina, review of Seven Life Lessons of Chaos.
Zygon, December, 1995, review of The Philosopher's Stone, p. 649.
F. David Peat Web site, http://www.fdavidpeat.com (February 9, 2004).*