I must let you into a secret. I have three different ways of reading books: lightning fast, with serene attention; and, as with Smashing Physics, postmodern.
The fast mode is forced by unavoidable professional requirements. This week, for example, I received a (thankfully) slim volume just hours before having to record a satellite interview wit ... More
This clear and cogent book is an important wake-up call. It should not need saying that it is impossible for human populations and economies to grow without limit on a finite planet, but t More
Science may well have revolutionised our world, but David Knight finds ‘revolution’ to be an inexact metaphor for the ‘chancy, many stranded story’ he describes. He explores models from biography, with associated concepts of infancy, adolescence, and maturity, before settling on voyages of exploration and discovery. This choice is inspired in part by Newton ... More
Did you know that the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space; or that Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) came from India; or that Descartes thought up letters (a, b, c, and x) for use in algebra; or that William Bateson coined the word ‘genetics’? Did you know that there are five million trillion trillion bacteria on earth – give or take a few? ... More
This is a marvellous book. I would say that, wouldn’t I? After all, half the writers are friends of mine, including the editor. But the reverse is true. Why should I, immersed in astrophysics, climate change, neutrinos, and deadly bugs as I am, want to spend my precious spare time reading about yet more? And, let’s be quite frank, lots of science writing can be ... More