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13 Things that Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  4,426 Ratings  ·  422 Reviews
Spanning disciplines from biology to cosmology, chemistry to psychology to physics, Michael Brooks thrillingly captures the excitement of scientific discovery.Science’s best-kept secret is this: even today, thereare experimental results that the most brilliant scientists cannot explain. In the past, similar “anomalies” have revolutionized our world. If history is any prece ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
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Oct 18, 2008 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Thirteen things that don’t make sense

I worried about starting this book – worried much more than I ought to have worried – but worried nonetheless. I mean, things could only be bad. Here was a book that was going to tell me about thirteen things that required a ‘paradigm shift’ in science. It was the number 13 that bothered me more than anything else. The world is full of morons and one of the surest ways of spotting such a moron is via numerology. Crystals are also good, well, as is homeopathy.
Mike (the Paladin)
Fairly interesting account of certain anomalies in science. Dark matter, Cold Fusion and some others. A lot of what comes out here is the fact that the scientific community is as human as the rest of us. So often if findings fly in the face of "established scientific fact" the person making the finding or following up on the research is completely ruined.

As in a researcher with a doctorate ending his days as a clerk in a stockroom or a Nobel laureate forced into retirement.

I got this out of cur
Oct 28, 2008 Buck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
Consistently mind-blowing - until about the halfway point, where the focus shifts from the cosmic to the prosaic. Now granted, I'm a scientific ignoramus, but I can't be alone in feeling that cosmology is just way sexier than biology, so to go from heady speculations about a multiplicity of universes to - of all sublunary things - the wonders of homeopathy -- well, it kind of killed my buzz.

Highly recommended, in any case, especially for those who, like me, are impatient with the nuts and bolts
In 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, Michael Brooks takes a brief look at 13 thorny problems which science has no good solution to. The problems are explained in simple terms, and include such things as death, sex, life, dark matter, and the placebo effect. What Brooks shows is that despite the best efforts of generations of scientists, and all the marvels of modern technology, we are far from understanding even such basic things as what the universe is made of and what it means to be alive.

A re
Sep 13, 2008 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, physics
I really enjoyed this book. In a world where most geographical frontiers have already been explored it's inspiring to read about the wild west of science where our knowledge is small and great discoveries are still to be made.

The author did a good job of interweaving the 13 things so the book felt like a single work and not 13 distinct essays. There are interesting humans elements to the book. It's fascinating how the careers of so many scientists were affected by their 'discoveries.' The final
Jan 03, 2016 Siv30 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"במדע, העובדה שאינכם מסוגלים להתקדם, יכולה להיות אות לכך שאתם עומדים לזנק זינוק גדול קדימה. הדברים שאינם מתיישבים עם ההיגיון הם, באופנים מסוימים, הדברים היחידים
החשובים באמת."

הספר מציג לקורא 13 אנומליות, תעלומות מדעיות , בלתי פתורות למרות השנים והמאמץ שהושקעו בפתרונן. בשפה בהירה ומשעשעת מתאר המחבר את הניסיונות, את הצמתים המרכזיים, את ההישגים ואת הכשלונות בכל תחום. את ההשלכות האופרטיביות של הוכחת האנומליה או אי הוכחתה.

הפרק הראשון עוסק בחומר האפל וחוסר יכולתם של המדענים להוכיח אותו. משעשע כי למעש
14th thing that doesn't make sense: Covers on public toilet seats. I mean no-one ever puts it down, and if they do, do you want to touch a public toilet seat cover to lift it up? I don't.

15th thing that doesn't make sense: Most people have two feet, thus two socks. Most people put two socks into the wash, there surely can't be many who sniff their socks and decide that one of them could go another day. So what happens then? It is a complete mystery to me how the collection of single socks comes
Mar 13, 2016 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Behold the Socratic paradox. Socrates said I know that I know nothing. Well, allegedly he said that, at least according to Plato's account of Socrates life. But it does sum up how one can walk away feeling after reading this book. It's a feeling that I've long contended with the more I read and learn about sciences, particularly astronomy. Several classes and many books on the subject later and there is still so much supposition and guesswork and uncertainty. Virtually 96 percent of cosmos is co ...more
Some of these things are sort of covered in Brooks’ other book, At the Edge of Uncertainty, while others weren’t. There’s a bunch of interesting stuff about extraterrestrial intelligence and the experiments looking for microbial life on Mars, for instance. As with the other book, Brooks gives clear explanations. In fact, reading both books illuminated more about the topics that were in both. Each topic leads to the next in a very logical way, too.

The topic selections are all interesting: life on
Jan 18, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
The further into the book I read the more I got into it as it progressed from the cosmological to the physical to the biological. Most intriguing to me were the looks at cold fusion, free will, the placebo effect, and homeopathy. With thirteen areas examined, including life, sex and death, there is probably something here for everyone. Everyone, except those who are unwilling to challenge their assumptions.
Jul 17, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, audiobook
I realized, before starting this book, that some of the topics might be "old hat". I've read about the dark matter/dark energy mystery in a number of books. But I wasn't ready for the other fascinating mysteries, that truly surprised me. For example, I thought that the placebo effect was well understood. But evidently not. For example, the common drug Valium (dizaepam) has a strong effect; but only if the person taking it understands what the effect should be. Tests have shown that the drug is n ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
The purpose of this book is to show, by 13 different examples, how science has a long way to go before it can assure us that "all is under control". Somehow, we are aware of this limitation. I am still unsure of the writer's stance. Is he in favor of science? He explains one set of difficulties scientists faced in a certain area of research, before moving on to another. There are interesting bits of information peppered in, which is all this book has to offer in my opinion, so that you can sound ...more
15 Oct 2014: Just finished editing the Bulgarian translation.

24 Oct 2014: This is a much-needed book, for both scientists and laymen.

Firstly, because it teaches humility: never again shall you say to yourselves, I know all of it; there is nothing left to discover.

Secondly, because it prods us to keep asking questions: What are we taking for granted? Is this bit of knowledge reached by consensus or established by conformity (or worse yet, complacence)? What other approaches are there to it? What
Apr 25, 2017 Book rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
13 Things That Don’t Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks

“13 Things That Don’t Make Sense” is a provocative look at 13 scientific wide-ranging mysteries. Michael Brooks holds a PhD in Quantum Physics, editor and now consultant for New Scientist magazine, takes the reader on the wonderful journey of scientific mysteries. Since the publishing of this book a few of these mysteries have been resolved. This provocative 256-page book includes the following t
Oct 08, 2008 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Michael Brooks only really had about 11 interesting things that science has trouble explaining. "Homeopathy" and "Free Will" seemed kind of tacked on in order to reach 13. "11 things that don't make sense" being the far less catchy title.
This is, all in all, pretty weak. There are certainly some interesting things raised in the book - good summaries of some of the alternative theories raised to explain things like the prevalence of dark matter, and so on. At the same time, science has moved on a fair bit since the book was written. The Pioneer Anomaly, for example, has been explained, to the apparent satisfaction of scientists. The experiments supposedly debunking free will have, possibly, been shown to be deeply problematic and ...more
Ken Cramer
Feb 16, 2014 Ken Cramer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offered a fascinating glimpse into the world of science – with all of its successes and still all of its lingering mysteries. It is engaging, well-written, and leaves you above all else – thinking! The author however makes two mistakes (hence one less star): one grave, and the other… More grave.

Early in the book, the author explains how science is not about people, it's about nature. This is a likely conclusion from someone ingrained in physics, which is what the book is mostly about.
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 18, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Any book that makes you ponder subjects that are seemingly inherently necessary (find a necessity for sexual reproduction or death) in a new light are going to be getting a thumbs up from me. I enjoy that, it is defiantly on my track of thinking. He took on a number of controversial topics and some of them (homeopathy for example) I don't think I will ever agree with given the current state of affairs but the author doesn't really ask you to agree with anything. He just says there are things tha ...more
Mohamed Osman
هناك بعض الكتب تكمن متعتها وأهميتها فيما تثيره من أسئلة وأفكار، وهذا الكتاب واحد منها، لكن ما توفقت عنده حقا هو السيرة الذاتية للمترجمين، أستاذ دكتور أحمد عبد الله السماحي، وأستاذ دكتور فتح الله محمد إبراهيم الشيخ، الأول مواليد 1935 والثاني 1937
- بسم الله ما شاء الله ربنا يديهم الصحة ويطول في عمرهم-
رغم تقدمهم في العمر إلا أنهم مازالوا يسعون للترجمة وتقديم العلم ونشر المعرفة
بارك الله لهم
Tim Pendry
Jan 10, 2010 Tim Pendry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Brooks' survey of anomalies in contemporary science (2009 - UK Edition) might be regarded as a riposte to the 'end of science' thesis promoted by John Horgan in the mid-1990s. He makes a very good case although one has the suspicion that it is not that there is nothing else to know (which this book shows would be an absurd proposition) but perhaps that there are things that, because of the limitations of ourselves as human observers, we may never know.

Brooks adopts a systematic approach,
Harold Smithson (Suicide punishable by Death)
A while ago, I read an article on Yahoo (Almost always a bad idea, but it happened nevertheless) about a scientist who claimed that we were an inch away from completely disproving god from a purely objective standpoint. I was unimpressed with the article, but I found the comments on the article to be great reading.

Namely because the article was universally reviled by atheists and agnostics as much as the religious. Though they did not believe in god, they claimed that our grasp of the universe w
Nov 06, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic-science
A decent overview of some the unsolved questions that modern science is currently puzzling over (how to explain all the "missing" matter in the universe) or lacks the data to answer conclusively any time soon (is there life on other planets? do we really have free will?). Then there are a few chapters concerning what might be described as fringe science (e.g. cold fusion, the placebo effect, homeopathic medicine). While I appreciate the spirit of inquiry, I suspect that homeopathic medicine is p ...more
Joel Tone
Jun 28, 2011 Joel Tone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “That’s funny …”
– Isaac Asimov

I recently read 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense by Micheal Brooks. It’s a popular science book that opens with the above quote and discusses thirteen things that are “funny” about modern science. I really enjoyed this book.

Each of the chapters in this book describes something that’s a little (or a lot) off when described by the current best theory. W
13 Things That Don't Make Sense is a quick overview of some of the current questions that are still left unanswered by science. The role of the book is important in that it nicely outlines a few areas of our ignorance but I feel that some things were skipped while others were played up. I also feel that the book succumbs to a bit of false equivocation but does so in the spirit of "everything's not quite solved".

The section on the dark matter problem gives excess weight to modified newtonian dyna
Ami Iida
you should read what you have interested in topics in the book.
You are not always every topics in it. So you choose what you have interested in topics in it.
there are unsolved problem in the human being it is not clearly written sentences.
it is only written hypothesis and guess about topic.
But it is important human being unsolved many problems currently.

there are more unsolved problems than solved problems in the human being history.
We don't know 95 % element in the universe
Jul 10, 2012 Rohan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics-science
I genuinely liked this book. It might not be the greatest scientific book I might've read this year but it was informative enough to enjoy and absorb few things I was unaware of. Must say, I was not baffled by all 13 things, but, I did like what Author had to say about Cold Fusion and Placebo Effect. A decent read.
Todd Martin
In 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, Michael Brooks investigates some of the mysteries that are currently baffling scientists. For the most part the discussions are informative and interesting, but Brooks loses his way repeatedly, giving undue weight to fringe positions where none is due.
1 & 2: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the failure of Newtonian gravitation - Brooks does a good job outlining the subject, but gives far too much weight to the view that the expanding universe may be due to er
Courtney Williams
Aug 26, 2010 Courtney Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
The book: 13 Things That Don't Make Sense

The author: Michael Brooks, English science writer.

The subject: As the title suggests, Brooks discusses thirteen anomalies in science.

Why I chose it: My A-Level Physics teacher once bumped into my mum in town and gave her the name of it, saying he thought I might enjoy it!

The rating: Five out of five stars

What I thought of it: I have loved everything I've read by Michael Brooks so far. (Granted, that's only two books, but still.) He writes the sort of boo
Pete Jones
Nov 24, 2013 Pete Jones rated it liked it
I was told that I should be reading boring books before bed; this seemed an obvious choice. The problem with that is that in many places this book reads like some of my classes in my senior year of statistics—the type where the whole class was devoted to proving a theorem. The prof would start on one blackboard and continue around the room erasing his earlier writings to make room for more. At the beginning of the class you understood what was to be proved and you followed the proof step-by-step ...more
Once again, I will probably be unfair in a review of a book because it turned out not to be what I wished for it to be. In this particular case I had great hopes that I found something similar to one of my all time favourites, namely Bill Bryson's 'Short History of Nearly Everything'. And indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if these two books shared the same shelf in a library. But while Bryson strikes in my opinion the perfect balance between learning experience and entertainement, Brook's approach ...more
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Michael Brooks holds a PhD in quantum physics. He writes a weekly science column for the New Statesman.

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.

Brooks' next book, The Big Questions: Physics, was released in February 2010. It contains twenty 3,000-word es
More about Michael Brooks...

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“There are reasons to doubt that what we call the laws of physics necessarily apply everywhere in the universe—or that they were applicable to every time in its history.” 4 likes
“The definitive study of the herd instincts of astronomers has yet to be written, Fernie said, but there are times when we resemble nothing so much as a herd of antelope, heads down in tight formation, thundering with firm determination in a particular direction across the plain. At a given signal from the leader we whirl about, and, with equally firm determination, thunder off in quite a different direction, still in tight parallel formation.
(quoting an observation made by astronomer J. Donal Fernie)”
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