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addabook - 13 Things that Don't Make Sense
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13 Things that Don't Make Sense
The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
Michael Brooks
read on May 1, 2012

Holy crap this was a fantastic book. It wasn't exactly page turning narrative or anything, in that it doesn't really have a plot. It just goes through 13 things that science still hasn't figured out, things we just don't understand, and explains some history behind the subject and what the current theories are, etc. It's just fascinating to read all the stuff that we don't have figured out. None of it is really a huge surprise, but it's interesting to see it all spelled out in one place. The weird thing is that it's the gigantic stuff we still don't understand - not the details. Huge cosmology/physics issues, and foundational biological ones also. Life, death, sex, free will, etc. Conceptually, it's easy to say that we don't understand those kinds of things, but seeing the gritty details of exactly what and why we don't understand was great.

A standout for me was the discussion of death and senescence - it sounds like we're actually creepily close to figuring out why things grow old and die. Really, when you think about it, there doesn't seem to be much of a reason for it. I wouldn't be able to do it justice, but the book discusses for a long time about life, death and heterosexual sex and how they all may be related as part of the same system. (Again, it just sounds plain as day to suggest that those things are related, but actually trying to understand how and why isn't as straightforward as you'd think.)

Anyway, highly recommended. The book is a super easy read and lots of fun, despite its awful title.

Author Bio:

Brooks holds a PhD in Quantum Physics from the University of Sussex. He was previously an editor for New Scientist magazine, and currently works as a consultant for that magazine. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, The Times Higher Education Supplement, and Playboy. His first novel, Entanglement, was published in 2007. His first non-fiction book, an exploration of scientific anomalies entitled 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, was published in 2009. The book expands an article that Brooks wrote for New Scientist. Brooks' next book, The Big Questions: Physics, was released in February 2010. It contains twenty 3,000-word essays addressing the most fundamental and frequently asked questions about science.