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At the Edge of Uncertainty: 11 Discoveries Taking Science by Surprise

by Michael Brooks

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704291,220 (4.13)None
The bestselling author of Free Radicals takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the most controversial areas of modern science The atom, the big bang, DNA, natural selection-all are ideas that have revolutionized science; and all were dismissed out of hand when they first appeared. The surprises haven't stopped in recent years, and in At the Edge of Uncertainty, bestselling author Michael Brooks investigates the new wave of radical insights that are shaping the future of scientific discovery. Brooks takes us to the extreme frontiers of what we understand about the world. He journeys from the observations that might rewrite our story of how the cosmos came to be, through the novel biology behind our will to live, and on to the physiological root of consciousness. Along the way, he examines how it's time to redress the gender imbalance in clinical trials, explores how merging humans with other species might provide a solution to the shortage of organ donors, and finds out whether the universe really is like a computer or if the flow of time is a mere illusion.… (more)

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Showing 4 of 4
After starting this I realised that I have read lots of columns by Michael Brooks in the New Statesman. It was a fascinating review of some areas of science where there are healthy doubts about the scientific concensus. Each chapter covers a different topic. I got on best with chapters where I already have enough understanding to run with the author and learn more. The only chapter he completely lost me was Hypercomputers. Worth skimming through the book again before I take it back to the library.
Decided to up this to 5 stars as it continues to illuminate the modern world as I mull it over. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
As with a previous title by the same author, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, this book explores, as the title suggests, scientific ideas that are at the edge of our understanding. If you're a science buff and you have a tendency to favor non-conformist ideas about how things work, this book will take you through a ride on many (11, at the top level of uncertainty) such ideas and theories that ultimately can change the way you (or we, as whole) think about the universe we happen to inhabit.

Michael Brooks writing is very engaging. Though many subjects here treated are not easy to understand, his approach makes them very much palatable for those of us who are outsiders to the specific developments of the many branches of science. In that sense, this book, besides providing an easy read (as easy as your understanding can go, but accessible nonetheless), also provides you with a wealth of information about science edgy topics that will make at the least challenge some of your philosophical assumptions and bring about some useful and meaningful doubts about the way you understand life, the universe and everything* else.

*Douglas Adams passage cited on this book. ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |
After starting this I realised that I have read lots of columns by Michael Brooks in the New Statesman. It was a fascinating review of some areas of science where there are healthy doubts about the scientific concensus. Each chapter covers a different topic. I got on best with chapters where I already have enough understanding to run with the author and learn more. The only chapter he completely lost me was Hypercomputers. Worth skimming through the book again before I take it back to the library.
Decided to up this to 5 stars as it continues to illuminate the modern world as I mull it over. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | May 27, 2018 |
Easy-reading chapters about a few locations on the frontiers of various sciences. The majority are about the life sciences, especially if the one on consciousness is so classified. The later ones talk about the holographic principle and the quantum-computer view of the universe, difficulties with the concordance model of cosmology, the question of computability beyond the Turing limit, and the nature of time.
  fpagan | Jun 2, 2015 |
Showing 4 of 4
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The bestselling author of Free Radicals takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the most controversial areas of modern science The atom, the big bang, DNA, natural selection-all are ideas that have revolutionized science; and all were dismissed out of hand when they first appeared. The surprises haven't stopped in recent years, and in At the Edge of Uncertainty, bestselling author Michael Brooks investigates the new wave of radical insights that are shaping the future of scientific discovery. Brooks takes us to the extreme frontiers of what we understand about the world. He journeys from the observations that might rewrite our story of how the cosmos came to be, through the novel biology behind our will to live, and on to the physiological root of consciousness. Along the way, he examines how it's time to redress the gender imbalance in clinical trials, explores how merging humans with other species might provide a solution to the shortage of organ donors, and finds out whether the universe really is like a computer or if the flow of time is a mere illusion.

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