Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Magic of Reality



Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back - earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality - science.

Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well. 

Consider the epic of creation: in considerably less time than it takes to say "Let there be light", all matter, time and space confected itself either from nothing, or almost nothing, about 13.7bn years ago, and within the first second was already on course to become an unimaginably vast arena for dark matter, light, galaxies, stars, planets, comets, asteroids, 92 elements, countless chemical compounds and finally - as far as we know - on just one little speck of a planet, a world of living things. No less wonderful is that this whole story has been transcribed by collective effort in only 400 years, with the agency of light and some help from telescope, microscope and the light-splitting, rainbow-making spectroscope. "Rainbows are not just beautiful to look at," says Dawkins. "In a way, they tell us when everything began, including time and space. I think that makes the rainbow even more beautiful."

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education’s most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world - and the universe beyond - that will entertain and inform for years to come.