Science's best-kept secret is that there are experimental results and reliable data that the most brilliant scientists can neither explain nor dismiss. In the past, similar "anomalies" have revolutionized our world, as in the 16th century, when a set of celestial anomalies led Copernicus to realize that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the reverse, and in the 1770s, when two chemists discovered oxygen because of experimental results that defied the theories of the day. If history is any precedent, we should look to today's inexplicable results to forecast the future of science.
In 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, Michael Brooks heads to the scientific frontier to meet 13 modern-day anomalies and discover tomorrow's breakthroughs.
©2008 Michael Brooks; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Letting the rest of the world go by
For each chapter the author tells you what he's going to tell you about an anomaly, then tells you about it, and then explains to you what he just told you, and all the while explaining to you the science that surrounds it.
The book is so good at putting the context around the mystery that after listening to the book, I was able to explain each of the 13 mysterious from memory while discussing the book with my spouse and she even acted like she was interested with what I had to say.
I was reluctant to purchase this book because I thought it was going to be 13 different essays. I was wrong. It really is not. I don't like listening to essays because it takes me an hour to get into a topic while listening, but for this book each chapter flowed into the next chapter and seemed related to the preceding chapter.
Wow!!! If you liked The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking's New Book you filp on this one. Not a dull moment from page one to the end. LOVED IT ALL.
Don't get me wrong--as Brooks goes to some trouble to illustrate, it's when we think we have final and definitive answers to the mysteries of our universe that we get into trouble. Brooks tackles subjects ranging from dark matter to homeopathy (this last one particularly surprised me). His explanation of the current state of knowledge on such topics is generously interspersed with tales of the foibles of the scientific method in the hands of all too human scientists. What comes across clearly is the risk of any unquestioned orthodox belief or assumption--yet how are we to gain new insights unless we are to build on the knowledge and discoveries of preceding generations? It is a conundrum that will inevitably haunt any scientist who also happens to be a human being.
It can be the curse of such books that the "cutting edge" of science very quickly becomes a dull blade, indeed. This book is over 4 years old and I suspect that there have been numerous developments in the fields Brooks covers since the book's publication. Since I'm not exactly on the cutting edge myself, I found the material to be enlightening and often amazing, although the discussion did get pretty technical at times. It is the study of the human aspect of scientific discovery that will continue to be relevant long after the science has been outdated.
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting in all honesty. There was alot of history mixed in with unexplained science. Normally I wouldn't have liked that very much, but it was done exceptionally well. The topics also were not exactly what I was expecting, but I think that was for the best. I was very impressed with the topics, and the discussions themselves. The topics included why we produce sexually as opposed to asexually, why we die, the placebo effect, there were a few quantum physics issues, etc. A very good read, if not a bit deep. I recommend being able to devote a bit more attention than usual to this book when you listen. It can get a bit complex at times.
I have listened to it multiple times. This is one of those books that I listen to time and again and learn something new, or have something new to think about each time.
The giant virus... sorry, just kidding. It's a book about gaps in science - not exactly a character based drama.
They're all interesting: this book reminds me that science is still far from having explained... well much at all, really. It's just beginning.
The more we know, the more we know we don't know.
There are some really interesting things presented here. I liked the chapter about Dark Matter & Dark Energy, and how they came to be hypothesized. But then the author says that Vera Rubin retracted her assertions, and that now she believes that Dark Matter/Dark Energy do not exist and their must be some other explanation for cosmological observations and mysteries. This is an intriguing idea, sort of analogous to the Michaelson-Morley ether, but no Einstein has come along yet to provide an explanation, and more important, I looked quite a while on the web, and nowhere did I find any documentation for the idea that Rubin has reversed herself on Dark Matter/Dark Energy.
Then he goes on to discuss how Cold Fusion has ruined careers, decrying it, and then suggesting it might be possible. Why even discuss it?
But then he goes on to discourse of non-scientific beliefs and practices, and attacks them mercilessly. Why does this go with discussions of scientific theories?
Although I gained some value from it, I found this book to be a puzzle.
Anyone who is interested in science and the world around them should read this book. All 13 things are almost completely taken for granted by us. Anywhere from the definition of death or dark matter and what keeps the stars in place are discussed. Michael Brooks arranges each point in a great way. There is a building feeling while reading. It's sounds odd to say that dark matter is the smallest topic in the scheme of things. That's until you realize that viruses and free will are much deeper topics that require understanding.
Michael Brooks also explains each topic is such a way to give you scope without asking the reader to research for each subject matter. An amazing book....
This book really jazzed me! I've listened to it twice so far and also brought the book in print. It has inspired me to look deeper into all the subjects covered in the book and branch out. Even a year later I am still raving about this book. It's a real poser and if it doesn't make you think about and question life and all it's aspects then you are brain dead.
I'm looking forward to more form this author as well as Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking and all the people mentioned in the book.
Well read, proper pronunciation, no exazzerations, can't hear breathing or other background noises.
Please, I want to see more books like this.
This was certainly worth the listen, but due to the varied topics/fields covered not all the mysteries were equally interesting to me. Unfortunately, one of the mysteries I found most intriguing -- the pioneer effect -- has been resolved as of April of this year. So if ever there's a reprint it should be the "12 Things . ."
The author does an excellent job of making extremely esoteric/complicated scientific theories accessible to the average reader/listener. I finally have a grasp on what dark energy/matter is believed to be (no small feat). And he provides a good balance between stating the cases both for and against for many of the unknowns.
Don't be afraid to hit the "go back and listen to that bit again" button if something slips by you. I had to do that a few times to sort things out.
The narrator sometimes sounds a bit pedantic/pretentious, but that could also be the subject matter. The technobabble glides off of his tongue smoothly (no small feat!) and he also projects an earnestness.
Definitely a good listen.
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