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13 Things That Don't Make Sense

Cover of 13 Things That Don't Make Sense

13 Things That Don't Make Sense

The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
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Science starts to get interesting when things don't make sense.

Science's best-kept secret is this: even today, 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, like in the sixteenth century, when a set of celestial anomalies led Copernicus to realize that the earth goes around the sun and not the reverse, and in the 1770s, when two chemists discovered oxygen because of experimental results that defied all the theories of the day. So 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 thirteen modern-day anomalies and discover tomorrow's breakthroughs. Why are some NASA satellites speeding up as they get farther from the sun? Why has the placebo effect become a pillar of modern medicine when doctors can't agree whether it even exists? Is ninety-six percent of the universe missing? Is a 1977 signal from outer space a transmission from an alien civilization? Might giant viruses explain how life began? Taking readers on an entertaining tour d'horizon of the strangest of scientific findings—involving everything from our lack of free will to Martian methane that offers new evidence of life on the planet—Michael Brooks argues that the things we don't understand are the key to what we are about to discover. Spanning disciplines from biology to cosmology, chemistry to psychology to physics, Brooks thrillingly captures the excitement, messiness, and controversy of the battle over where science is headed.

Science starts to get interesting when things don't make sense.

Science's best-kept secret is this: even today, 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, like in the sixteenth century, when a set of celestial anomalies led Copernicus to realize that the earth goes around the sun and not the reverse, and in the 1770s, when two chemists discovered oxygen because of experimental results that defied all the theories of the day. So 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 thirteen modern-day anomalies and discover tomorrow's breakthroughs. Why are some NASA satellites speeding up as they get farther from the sun? Why has the placebo effect become a pillar of modern medicine when doctors can't agree whether it even exists? Is ninety-six percent of the universe missing? Is a 1977 signal from outer space a transmission from an alien civilization? Might giant viruses explain how life began? Taking readers on an entertaining tour d'horizon of the strangest of scientific findings—involving everything from our lack of free will to Martian methane that offers new evidence of life on the planet—Michael Brooks argues that the things we don't understand are the key to what we are about to discover. Spanning disciplines from biology to cosmology, chemistry to psychology to physics, Brooks thrillingly captures the excitement, messiness, and controversy of the battle over where science is headed.

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About the Author-
  • Michael Brooks, who holds a PhD in physics, is an author, journalist, and broadcaster. He is a consultant at New Scientist, a magazine with over three quarters of a million readers worldwide, and writes a weekly column for the New Statesman. Brooks is the author of At the Edge of Uncertainty, The Secret Anarchy of Science and the bestselling nonfiction title 13 Things that Don't Make Sense. His writing has also appeared in the London Observer, Guardian, and Independent, as well as many other newspapers and magazines. He lives in England.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The author tackles the most difficult concepts in science--for example, string theory, dark matter, the Big Bang--but makes little attempt to explain them in simple terms. Even a scientifically sophisticated and curious audience may feel overwhelmed. Brooks's lack of organization in the structure of his discussion further obfuscates comprehension. Narrator James Adams, who has an aristocratic-sounding British accent, tends to drone on without spark or modulation. His pluses as a reader are his superior fluency in scientific vocabulary and his ability to render it without breaking the brisk cadence. However, neither the narrator nor the narrative offers significant entertainment value to most general listeners. Further, one could argue that an audio presentation may be too rapid for absorbing such challenging concepts. J.A.H. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
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13 Things That Don't Make Sense
13 Things That Don't Make Sense
The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
Michael Brooks
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The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
Michael Brooks
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