I admit I am a big Bryson fan, but this is his best book yet. I'll let others speak to content, but I wanted to urge parents to share this book with their kids. I read the unabridged hard copy, then downloaded the abridged version so I could share it with my daughters - ages 10, 16, and 18. We listened on a long road trip through Montana. If you can believe it, they all cried when it was over, touched by Bryson's poignant message at the end about our place in the universe and the attendant responsibility of being at the (current) pinnacle of evolution. When we got home, my two older daughters immediately went to the bookstore to purchase their own copies so they could read the entire book again. It's gotta be good when your teenagers can't put it down. And it has generated great family conversation about a wide variety of topics ever since. Listen to this book. It will make you a more interesting and interested person . . . .
Having read / listened to a number of "popular science" books (Greene, Hawking) that address the origin and fate of the universe, the concept of time and the role of entropy are familiar and central concepts in those books. It was about the third lecture of this series before I thought I learned anything new, but by slow accretion and careful explanation by Sean Carroll, I began to have a deeper understanding of time and why it is, indeed, still such a mystery Carroll has an earnest, engaging style. He does a good job of maintaining a coherent narrative through the lectures, so it is easy to follow his development of the topic. Not much math here (good from my perspective) except when he lays out Boltzman's equation for entropy. All in, I recommend this course. Like many of the concepts in modern physics, the ideas are counter-intuitive and elusive--at least to this former English major. Revisiting them from time to time is helpful in solidifying central concepts--and entropy / time is certainly one that deserves re-examination. Like all "Great Courses" lectures, these are survey level courses, so if you are someone who is calculating the trajectory of the next NASA probe to Mars, move along, there is nothing for you to see. But, if like me, you have a general interest in science, you will find this course worth your time and an enjoyable listen.
Brian Greene is a truly gifted writer. With powerful yet simple metaphors, he can help you understand relativity and quantum mechanics at a deep level (without the math!). What is wonderful about this book is that it is essentially a meditation on time: what is it? Does it have direction? Does it really exist? In answering these questions, Greene gives a grand tour of cosmology, relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory for average person. It will affect your entire outlook on your place in the universe. An inspiring read.
The name of this book is misleading. It is really about 13 phenomena that we don't understand. Most of the book is science related and some science background will likely improve your appreciation. The topics are quite scientifically varied and covers astrophysics, physics, chemistry, biology, pscyhology. The author does a good job in presenting a balanced description and history of each of the topics. I am a scientist and found much of what was presented as very interesting and new information.
Oddly, my advice would be to read the epiloge first. It is a very good presentation of the wonders of science and why we pursue knowledge and serves as a great reason to care about what is in the book. It is also a good review of the chapaters to come. A few of the interesting chapters include the fact that the cold fusion experiments that were supposedly a bust, are now found to have enough merit to have spurred ongoing research. It also interesting to know that space craft launched into the glaxay decades ago, appear to have inexplicable changes in their flight path. The chapter on the placebo was also very illuminating as it turns our that there may be more to the placebo effect than psychology. Unfortunately, not all the chapters are of equal interest, but I found at least 10 of 13 to be very worthwhile.