13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks

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13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Times by Michael Brooks

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A look at 13 experiments and ideas that don't quite sit right with accepted scientific thinking. Whilst there may be nothing to these anomalies, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense is a fascinating look at what we might learn from studying them, whether they're proven or disproven. Michael Brooks was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: February 2009
Publisher: Profile
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1861978172

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Did you know 96% of the cosmos is unaccounted for? That the Pioneer probes seem to be violating the laws of physics? That we might have already found life on Mars? That aliens might have made contact with us? Oh, and why do we die? Why do we have sex? (Hopefully not in that order). Do we really have free will? 13 Things That Don't Make Sense might not make complete sense of all these, but it'll certainly fascinate you as it explains these and other questions.

Michael Brooks, quantum phsyics PhD and consultant to New Scientist magazine, has chosen 13 experiments and ideas that seem to contradict accepted scientific thinking. He looks into their backgrounds, and tries to find ways they may be connected up (or disproven). He asks more questions than he answers, but what questions!

13 Things That Don't Make Sense strikes the perfect tone: if it were too wide-eyed and trusting (like my opening paragraph), it'd be nothing but pseudoscience and only attract crackpots. If it was too staid and rigid, it wouldn't even dare to ask the questions, let alone attract an audience. It's perfectly clear that there may be nothing to each of the anomalies. It looks at some of the people whose careers have been effectively ruined by championing things like cold fusion (and perhaps appropriately ruined). It presents the body of evidence against the anomalies, that comprises accepted thinking. It then points to the little 'but' that hasn't been fully answered. It suggests looking at it, questioning it, and investigating it (using rigid scientific methods, of course).

The writing style is clear, direct and informative. A wide range of scientific fields are looked at, with plenty of technical jargon. In the sphere of popular science, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense is more science than popular, but everything is explained well and won't leave the willing layman feeling out of his depth.

I thoroughly enjoyed 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. Knowing that we don't fully know is a thrilling place to be. The prospect of one day answering questions that are currently unanswered is awe-inspiring. Having all the questions but few answers won't be to everyone's tastes - that's not a criticism of the book as it couldn't be any other way; it's just one of those things. So what if 12 of the 13 things might turn out to be nothing? Imagine what we might learn from the 13th. So what if all 13 turn out to be nothing? Knowledge can be increased as much by disproving as proving. Asking questions is always a good thing. Isn't it?

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

If you want some scientific answers, The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson is a delightful read. Ben Goldacre's Bad Science is also highly recommended.

Bookinterviews.jpg Michael Brooks was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks is in the Top Ten Books For Slightly Geeky People.
Buy 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks at Amazon.com.


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