From Pulitzer Prize nominee Lawrence Weschler, a fascinating profile of Walter Murch, a film legend and amateur astrophysicist whose investigations could reshape our understanding of the universe. For film aficionados, Walter Murch is legendary--a three-time Academy Award winner, arguably the most admired sound and film editor in the world for his work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather trilogy, The English Patient, and many others. Outside of the studio, his mind is wide-ranging; his passion, pursued for several decades, has been astrophysics, in particular the rehabilitation of Titius-Bode, a long-discredited 18th century theory regarding the patterns by which planets and moons array themselves in gravitational systems across the universe. Though as a consummate outsider he's had a hard time attracting any sort of comprehensive hearing from professional astrophysicists, Murch has made advances that even some of them find intriguing, including a connection between Titius Bode and earlier notions--going back past Kepler and Pythagorus--of musical harmony in the heavens. Unfazed by rejection, ever probing, Murch perseveres in the highest traditions of outsider science. Lawrence Weschler brings Murch's quest alive in all its seemingly quixotic, yet still plausible, splendor, probing the basis for how we know what we know, and who gets to say. "The wholesale rejection of alternative theories has repeatedly held back the progress of vital science," Weschler observes, citing early twentieth-century German amateur Alfred Wegener, whose speculations about continental drift were ridiculed at first, only to be accepted as fact decades later. Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin says "It is controversy that brings science alive"--and Murch's quest does that in spades. His fascination with the way the planets and their moons are arranged opens up the field of celestial mechanics for general readers, sparking an awareness of the vast and (to us) invisible forces constantly at play in the universe.
*THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* Could you leave behind all that you know and live in solitude for three decades? This is the extraordinary story of the last true hermit - Christopher Knight. 'This was a breath-taking book to read and many weeks later I am still thinking about the implications for our society and - by extension - for my own life' Sebastian Junger, bestselling author of The Perfect Storm 'A wry meditation on one man's attempt to escape life's distractions and look inwards, to find meaning not by doing, but by being' Martin Sixsmith, bestselling author of Philomena and Ayesha's Gift 'Not all heroes wear capes. My latest one is a man called Christopher Knight – a silent idol for anyone who has felt the urge to just sack it all off and live the life of a hermit' Lucy Mangan, Stylist 'An extraordinary story about solitude, community, identity and freedom' Guardian 'A meditation on solitude, wildness and survival. It is also, unexpectedly, a tribute to the joys of reading' The Wall Street Journal In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not speak to another human being until three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Christopher survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water in order to avoid freezing to death in his tent during the harsh Maine winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material and other provisions, taking only what he needed. In the process, he unwittingly terrified a community unable to solve the mysterious burglaries. Myths abounded amongst the locals eager to find this legendary hermit. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life and the challenges he faced returning to the world. The Stranger in the Woods is a riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude and what makes for a good life. Above all, this is a deeply moving portrait of a man determined to live life his own way.