The title is a lot more sensational than the content. There are some legitimately interesting chapters, but a lot of filler.
Grandma bibliophile! Audible books make reading with an active life possible.
Some of this book was absolutely riveting and fascinating! Other parts of this book I'm just, what? I'm not exactly the most intensely educated in science so some of this went right over my head and some was well explained so I got the jist, so that was OK! For the most part though I'd say go ahead and get the book. It was a fun listen, I feel for the scientists in the past who's ideas weren't confirmed until later, post-mortem for them, so they were humiliated and shunned in life. Goes to show that just because you are unique and brilliant doesn't mean you're wrong! Give it a go and see what you think, I sure don't regret the credit. It was interesting enough I'd like to know more of what we don't know!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
A decent overview of some the unsolved questions that modern science is currently puzzling over (how to explain all the "missing" matter in the universe) or lacks the data to answer conclusively any time soon (is there life on other planets? do we really have free will?). Then there are a few chapters concerning what might be described as fringe science (e.g. cold fusion, the placebo effect, homeopathic medicine). While I appreciate the spirit of inquiry, I suspect that homeopathic medicine is probably not one of the great mysteries occupying scientific minds today.
Unfortunately, the author's style is a bit fragmentary -- he drops a lot of names and technical information, but doesn't make the core controversies quite as clear as they could be, or provide the satisfying overview one might get from a book focused solely on astrophysics, space exploration, or biology. Regarding the "fringe science", the author's discussion of the side making the incredible claim is extremely lightweight. Sure, maybe the cold fusion people are somehow right, and the mainstream scientific community will be proven wrong, but this writer hasn't elucidated anything compelling about that particular mystery -- if it even is a mystery -- for me.
Still, the book expressed an interesting theme: the scientific community has always had trouble accepting anomalous data that suggests that current theories on something might be flawed -- those who have staked their careers on an existing model aren't eager to see it overturned, and those who might try to explain the data using a new framework must put their own reputations on the line. Thus, it takes a while for "hey, the galaxy isn't expanding the way Einstein's theory predicts" to become an issue scientists are willing to talk about. For this somewhat disquieting revelation and the fact it'll probably whet your appetite for other science reading, this book's certainly worth a library check-out.
Of all the audiobooks I have ever purchased, this is the one I listen to over and over. The narration is clear, and each time I listen, I catch a new detail or understand something a little more fully. I think it should be required listening/reading for high school students to inspire them that there are still mysteries out there, waiting to be discovered.
Other reviewers have dogged on the last chapters of the book, especially the chapter on homeopathy. He does say there is no reason for it to work scientifically, and yet people feel better. Placebo? Perhaps, but that IS the mystery that doesn't make sense. In fact, there is a whole section on placebos, a mystery in and of themselves.
I agree those chapters aren't my favorites either, but the topics aren't fully explained by modern science, and that is the theme of the whole book: 13 scientific mysteries of our time.
The mysteries covered in the book are explained from the ground up, so you can fully appreciate the anomalies. They topics covered are dark matter and energy; possibly incorrect laws of physics (the Pioneer anomaly); varying constants of nature; cold fusion; what *is* life; the WOW signal; a giant virus (that even though viruses are not alive, it has a genome like yours); why things die; why do some organisms have sex?; do you actually have free will?; the placebo effect; and homeopathy.
As you can see, the topics are varied and all are described in full. Your mind will be opened to new ways of thinking about the world around you. Enjoy!
Very informative choices of the major unanswered scientific questions of our time. A VERY difficult task. Particularly good for someone wanting to do important science. He/she must think like this. I disagree with the negative reviews, 2008.
This has been one of my favorite listens. I have listened to every chapter multiple times and get something new out of each listening. It is content dense, but so interesting.
Brooks begins with some interesting musings on the mysteries of modern science (e.g., dark matter and dark energy), and manages to include the famous "WOW!" moment from 1977 when for a moment it looked like a radio telescope in Ohio had gotten a message from outer space. But as the book progresses he moves into increasingly paranormal territory (e.g., whether human beings have free will, or whether homeopathic medicine works). To call some of the topics he discusses "scientific" mysteries is a bit of a strain -- one senses that he started out with the idea of discussing "13 things," and then had to pad out the book with marginal topics in order to meet the pre-determined size of his list. It's still an interesting book for the most part, and the narrator does a good job -- too bad that Brooks couldn't find 13 strictly scientific mysteries to discuss.
Too much too hard but super interesting if you can keep up. I found the historical building blocks more interesting than the subject those facts supported. This books is not for the casual sofa scientist.
Some topics are a bit duller than others, but what I enjoyed was the descriptions of these scientific theories through the scientists that study them. The focus was on the history of these scientists, their squabbling or cooperation, and how the funding (or lack thereof) affected our general knowledge of these topics. An interesting take on how all scientific theory depends on those choosing to study and publish and thus the development of noble Science is just as biased and flawed as any human pursuit.