This is a marvellously engaging tour covering the whole of modern science, from transgenic crops to quantum tangles. Written by one of the most experienced and well-known names in science writing, it is also assuredly reliable science. Although arranged for convenience and quick reference as a
collection of topics in alphabetical order, it is very different from any conventional encyclopedia. Each topic tells a story, making the book eminently browsable. Packed with information, yet carrying its immense learning lightly, this is a book that would appeal to anyone with the slightest
interest in how the world works.
INTRODUCTION: Welcome to the spider's web
Over 130 articles, from...
ALCOHOL: Genetic revelations of when yeast invented booze
ALTRUISM AND AGGRESSION: Looking for the origins of those human alternatives
ANTIMATTER: Does the coat that Sakharov made really explain its
ARABIDOPSIS: The modest weed that gave plant scientists the big picture
ASTRONAUTICS: Will interstellar pioneers be overtaken by their grandchildren?
BERNAL'S LADDER: Pointers
BIG BANG: The inflationary Universe's sleight-of-hand
BIODIVERSITY: The mathematics of
BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS: Molecular machinery that governs life's routines
BIOSPHERE FROM SPACE: 'I want to do the whole world'
BITS AND QUBITS: The digital world and its looming quantum shadow
BLACK HOLES: The awesome engines of quasars and active galaxies
IMAGES: What do all the vivid movies really mean?
BRAIN RHYTHMS: The mathematics of the beat we think to
BRAIN WIRING: How do all those nerve connections know where to go?
BUCKYBALLS AND NANOTUBES: Doing very much more with very much less
dairymaid's blessing and the general's curse
SOLAR WIND: How it creates the heliosphere in which we live
SPACE WEATHER: Why it is now more troublesome than in the old days
SPARTICLES: A wished-for superworld of exotic matter and forces
SPEECH: A gene that makes us more eloquent
STARBURSTS: Galactic traffic accidents and stellar baby booms
STARS: Hearing them sing and sizing them up
STEM CELLS: Tissue engineering, natural and medical
SUN'S INTERIOR: How sound waves made our mother star transparent
SUPERATOMS, SUPERFLUIDS AND
SUPERCONDUCTORS: The march of the boson armies
SUPERSTRINGS: Retuning the cosmic imagination
TIME MACHINES: The biggest issue in contemporary physics?
TRANSGENIC CROPS: For better or worse, a planetary experiment has begun
TREE OF LIFE: Promiscuous bacteria and the course of
UNIVERSE: 'It must have known we were coming'
VOLCANIC EXPLOSIONS: Where will the next big one be?
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Nigel Calder is a long-established and widely known science writer, and a former Editor of lNew Scientist.