Shiver the Whole Night Through

Shiver the Whole Night Through
Marcus Chown has an endearingly casual approach to the writing of popular science, summed up in the titles of two of his most successful books: Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You (2005) and We Need to Talk About Kelvin (2009). His latest, What a Wonderful World, ambitiously compiles short, lucid explanations of just about every subject to which contemporary science has turned its gaze, from the paradox of the brain’s inability to understand itself (in the words of one American biologist, “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t”) to the frustrating incompleteness of the “standard model” of particle physics (“dark matter, which outweighs the Universe’s visible stuff by a factor of five, is a mystery”). Chown is an affable guide, and these short essays offer excellent introductions to some truly fascinating topics. KP

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