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Publisher's Summary

In This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world's best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more, everything is explained in fun, uncomplicated terms that make the most complex concepts easy to comprehend.

©2013 Edge Foundation, Inc. (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Offers a rare chance to discover big ideas before they hit the mainstream." (New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 02-15-14

An ode to science by making you feel the science

A series of essays that read like an ode to science. Good poetry makes you feel your way to understanding, and these essays let you understand by feeling and just gives enough to whet you curiosity on the topic and give you further ideas for further listening.

This book would make a great first science book for the listener since it covers wide areas of science by making the listener feel the topic but not enough to fully understand or assimilate. As for me, the book makes a great last book in science to listen to because it summarizes superbly the 100 or so science books I've listened to (and reviewed) over the last 3 years. Now, I finally realize it's time for me to move on to other kinds of books to discover about our place in the universe.

One of the narrators of this book, Peter Berkrot, read "Confessions of a Crap Artist". You know it's a great narrator when your mind goes back to something he had read (over six months ago) and you give the narrator that personality he had from the other book. That character in "Crap Artist" makes the truly bizarre the normal, and his reading of the strange in science by making it normal made the listening experience all the more enjoyable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great premise, but book really does not deliver

I thought the premise of the book was excellent - ask various luminaries of the academic world about the scientific theory they find to be most beautiful or elegant

The trouble is

1 ) About 1/3 of the responses are about Darwin's theory of evolution (making it repetitive)
2 ) I found it a bit lacking in genuine insight. Its like asking a load of guitarists what their favourite guitar solo is.... they will all have one, but might not be able to articulate why it affects them so deeply, or where its beauty lies - even thought they know it well. .Thats what I find in this book

Overall it was OK, but fell far short of my expectations!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great and full of ideas

This was a great book but Peter Berkrot is not a good narrator for non fiction. He has a snarky Catcher in the Rye type of voice. Emotion and deprecation detracts from discussions of quarks and black holes

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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At the edge of physics but not biology

Very similar to Brockman's The Universe (one of my favorites). Once again, Brockman gathers all the greats and puts their ideas into one book. There were ~150 essays. Each answered the question, "What do you consider to be the most beautiful, deep, and elegant theory ?" The book got off to a rough start. Sadly Brockman began with essays from scientists who have become science deniers. For example, epigenetiphobe Dawkins was prominently featured early on and set the tone for the reader. I usually picture Brockman as progressive and existing on the cutting Edge. Starting with Dawkins made me wonder if the world was perhaps ready for a newer, younger, and more edgy editor than John Brockman (how long do we have to pay homage to people like Dawkins who work so hard at keeping other scientists down? Stop treating him like a king and make room for more progressive minds).

Despite initially setting the wrong tone, Brockman managed to wow his reader yet again with great summaries of the most important theories known to humans. Zimbardo's essay was laughable. His essay should have been titled, "The size of my ego is bigger than the size of the universe." At least Brockman shoved it in the middle, allowing the reader to brush it off and move on to better ideas. The majority of this book was filled with extremely passionate people discussing the most meaningful ideas the human brain can comprehend. Essay topics included information theory, the creation of the universe (John Mather's essay was my personal favorite), epigenetics, various psychological phenomenon, evolution, and so on. Very wide scope. Very enjoyable. A must read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Insight. Dreadful Narration.

If you could sum up This Explains Everything in three words, what would they be?

Deep, Beautiful, Elegant

What did you like best about this story?

A huge number of essays from a great number of thinkers covering an amazing amount of topics.

What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

The two British narrators did a fine job. The two American narrators were extremely irritating, to the point that they might have done the worst narration job I've ever heard. The American man sounded like a cross between the Dateline narrator and a joke on a Simpsons show, and the woman sounded like she was reading a nursery rhyme instead of a science book. <br/><br/>Man: "We live among the stahhhrs, in the vastness of schpaaaaaaayyyyyce." Like it was a movie trailer.<br/>

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The topics covered were extremely fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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needs to be read in small chunks,

needs to be read in small chunks, too often I was left thinking about the last one only to miss the proceeding essay.

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Listen to it over and over

And. Learn something new every time. fantastic!
Great
Grest

And. Learn something new every time. fantastic!
Great
Grest
Why do I have to type so many words to get this accepted?

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Haphazardly put together rubriks.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you know the subjects, even at an introductory level, you might agree with the comments and feel good about yourself. If you don't, you are probably not going to learn, and you'll just feel confused.

What was most disappointing about John Brockman’s story?

There is no story here, but that wouldn't have to have been a bad thing, it's just that the small texts are hard to follow, and you don't really learn anything from them.<br/><br/>This is a book best formatted as a text, not as audio.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Terrible book....

What disappointed you about This Explains Everything?

No story at all, just compilations of other people thoughts about great discoveries.

What was most disappointing about John Brockman’s story?

Again there was no story and I LOVE science and still couldn't understand allot of the reports. I needed a dictionary to listen to this and this is the first book I've ever EVER said that about after reading over a thousand books I would guess.

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

This book turned me off so badly I want nothing to do with ANYTHING from this book again.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from This Explains Everything?

I would cut out the first 200 pages and then leave out the last 80 pages as well!!

Any additional comments?

I didn't like this book at all.. as you needed a degree in language and 10 other sciences to understand this text and some of the chapters were embarrassing they were so poor.<br/>I got almost nothing from this giant grab bag of all kinds of things thrown together and couldn't follow most of it. Worst book...no ...second worst book I ever bought.

1 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Dror Speiser
  • 05-06-15

great short stories from the greatest minds

this book is good for drives, waiting in line, bathroom, falling asleep and maybe even regular reading.

every answer is a gem.
every answer can be read many times over.

but don't fooled. you need serious concentration to understand most answers. which makes it all the more fun.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful