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.
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.
I found this book to be very good, but as another reviewer noted, I felt like it lost some steam towards the end. It's still very fascinating and you should give it a spin.
I wish I had researched this book just a little bit before impulse buying it - then I would not have bought it at all. Part way through listening, something just wasn't sitting well with me in the way the author was treating some of 13 topics. Some things just didn't sound right to me, or like the author must be veering away from mainstream science into fringe ideas. Then with the section on homeopathy came the realization that I couldn't trust anything in the book. Homeopathy is pure bunk, with zero possible way it could ever work, period. In my opinion, it seems that at least some of these topics were made to seem more mysterious than they do in real life through the selective omission of relevant data. Data which would have shown that the topics make more sense than would have justified having them in a book with this title; or even show them to be patently false as with homeopathy. A few of the topics I enjoyed, but by the end the author had simply lost my trust in what he was saying.
I didn't care for this book too much. The title is accurate and the information well presented, but I found it frustrating. 13 topics were presented that were intellectually challenging or scientifically nuanced, but, as the title warns, not explained. I guess I needed some resolution to the many imponderables. I much more enjoyed "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. The book was well done and the narrator was good, but I didn't enjoy the book.
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