I love learning about the universe and our place in it by listening to Audible.
1) Davies explains physics and philosophy better than any one,
2) The chapter on entropy is one of the best I've ever heard,
3) The philosophy of the approaches to science from atomism, reductionism and the teleologic of Aristotle is explained in accessible ways for the non-philosopher and are put in proper context,
4) Determinism and randomness of physics are completely explored and expertly explained,
5) Gives good explanation on chaos theory,
6) You will have learned something you didn't know by listening.
1) The book is dated. Originally published 1988. No Dark Energy. Inflation Theory becomes more developed after book is published,
2) His holistic approach is not believable to me,
3) He does not take evolution as a fact. Books by Dawkins, Robert Wright, and E.O. Wilson have drilled in to me that evolution is a fact,
4) When he speculates on what will possibly come to pass, it hasn't,
5) The process of formation of galaxies is much better understood today than when the book was originally published,
6) Hard to follow some of the math and charts while listening,
7) Very hard to follow his Cellular Automation explanation just by listening. Look up rule110 on wiki before listening and that will make it easier to follow.
Book is dated. He explains science and philosophy better than anyone. He has strong opinions for his pet theories, but he is incredibly fair and presents all sides. I love reading Paul Davies and I wish Audible had more of his books.
There's almost not a wasted word in this book. If you blink while listening, you might lose track of the physics. The author is very good at writing a history of quantum science from QED to looking for the Higgs boson.
He uses the narrative of the scientific players to describe the physics. There is nothing of the physics or the math for which he does not explain before he talks about it. The problem is the author explains the physics at the moment of introduction than assumes that you will understand it and won't explain it to you again.
A large audience of people won't like this book. If you don't follow the physics as he introduces it, the narrative of the history will not be enough to entertain you. He only introduces the physics once and assumes you get it. He covers so much of modern physics he really doesn't have time to repeat his clear explanations more than once.
What I liked about this book he really filled in the details for what has happened since quantum mechanics was fully developed and the Large Hadron Collider has gone online. I had read many books on each and had mostly just walked away with that particles were very small. Now I have a very good feel for what's going on and why the Higgs boson is so important.
His last chapter was a marvelous summary of the book. I only wish he had summarized more of the physics after he explained difficult concepts more frequently.
I don't want to mislead. This book is a very difficult read. Some one with no real background in physics can follow it, but it requires ones full concentration. He covers the topics so well, I'll probably never have to read another history of that period of physics again for a long time.
This was not an easy book to understand and the particle zoo plays a large role in the discussion and often I would lose my way only because the material is sometimes hard to follow, but the book covers everything you always wanted to know about the Higgs Boson and its field, but were afraid to ask.
I absolutely loved the author's previous book, "From Eternity to Here", and couldn't wait for this book. He's such a good writer and explains better than almost anyone. There are enough good parts in this book to make the particle zoo part worth listening to.
There's one important theme that runs through the book that will make the book easier to understand. That is these five words: "not observed waves, observed particles". In the background of the universe is the Higgs field and it is the vibration of this field that gives particles their mass. The author explains this and relates it to possible solutions to dark matter and dark energy.
Audible listener since the late 1990s. I mostly listen to science fiction, fantasy, history, and science.
This is a well-done, well-read science book that uses the periodic table as an excuse to wander off into various scientific tangents and stories. Think Bill Bryson or James Burke or similar sorts of scientific and historical storytelling. Many of these stories are really interesting (such as the tale of the boy scout who built his own nuclear reactor in a shed), and there is enough variety to keep anyone interested. I also need to applaud Mr. Kean for sticking very closely to the science, he is careful not to exaggerate where other writers might, and he is quick to call out "pathological science" when he sees it.
The real weakness of this book is that it plays very fast and loose with its premise. It uses the table as an excuse for stories, not as a prime motivator. Once Mr. Kean is done with Mendelev and related stories central to the discovery of new elements, he happily goes on to cover subjects like bubbles, international standards for the kilogram, and other topics; often making some sort of tenuous connection (see, the kilogram was made of iridium!) This is not a flaw in the stories, however, and the book remains interesting throughout. A great science read.