This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works
In This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions...more
Sadly, there are like a lot of brilliant people in this book who have ideas I would love to h ...more
The question put to 150 top scientists (and a few eccentri ...more
"This Explains Everything" is a wonderful book of essays from the Edge that addresses a question that inspires unpredictable answers. The Edge is an organization that presents original ideas by today's leading thinkers from a wide spectrum of scientific fields. The 2012 Edge question is, "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" This interesting 432-page book conta ...more
3.5 stars out of 5.
This is the second Edge collection I've read (there's a new one every year). In some sense, the question really isn't that important. What's these books are great for is getting samples of the thinking on big ideas from thinkers and practitioners from across a swath of disciplines. I use them to get exposed to conc ...more
1. Sensory adaptation (by Richard Dawkins): "The world at time t is not greatly different from the world at time t-1. Therefore it is not necessary for sensory systems continuously to report the state of the world. They need only signal changes, leaving the brain to assume that everything not reported remains the same."
2. Opinion segregation (by David G.Myers): "Group interaction ...more
The contributions presented here embrace scientific thinking in the broadest sense: as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything--including such fields of inquiry as philosophy, mathematics, economics, history,...more
The contributors—from Alan Alda to esteemed physicists to sociologists to mathematicians—ponder elegant and beautiful explanations of our universe. Readers may be challenged by the science, inspired by the history, and intrigued by Hamlet's notion: "There are more things in he ...more
1. Great writing. I'm impressed. It helps that almost all these contributors are authors themselves, writing books that are directed towards general audience. It shows the romantic/poetic side of their thinking.
2. I was engrossed in the book, however, not by the writing, but instead by the ideas so enthusiastically and lovely presented. Some of them are new to me, some aren't. But again, the book ...more
Lots of duplication. Sometimes an essay did not seem to answer the question (but rather talked about the question) or their favorite theory was not explained adequately.
After about the 20th mini-essay I got annoyed with the book and returned it to the library unfinished.
The idea sounded intriguing and so did the various essay titles: so I checked it out. Maybe 20 longer more developed dive ...more
The essays are lovingly ordered so that you flow from biology to physics to neuroscience to psychology in a way that never feels forced or jarring. One writer will expound about, say, the Pigeonhole Theory and the next will use it as a jumpi ...more
I listened to the audiobook; if I had it to do over, I probably would elect to read the conventional version. I was continually tempted to make notes on what authors and topics I would like to find out more about. This is hard to do while driving.
I found the parts on the hard sciences much more interesting in general than the sections on soc ...more
The book shouldn't be viewed as a guide or a treatise, it is merely an index, a starting point for further reading, research and reflexion.
I definitely recommend this book to all my friends.
Editing this text must have been a joy. (The editors did well, too, keeping themes moving throughout so that the endless stream of examples seemed to have a narrative arc behind them.)
Evolution by means of natural selection / Susan Blackmore —
Life is a digital code / Matt Ridley —
Redundancy reduction and pattern recognition / Richard Dawkins —
The power of absurdity / Scott Atran —
How apparent finality can emerge / Carlo Rovelli --
The overdue demise of monogamy / Aubrey de Grey —
Boltzmann’s explanation of the second law of thermodynamics / Leonard Susskind --
The dark matter of the mind / Joel Gold —
"There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your ...more
Some of my favorites:
Metaphors Are in the Mind: "And you can't reverse metaphors. While you can say 'He's clean' to mean he has no criminal record, you can't say 'He's moral' to mean that he bathed recently. Metaphor is unidirectional." (yes, this is a fascinating concept to me!) And that you think metaphorically, i.e. yo ...more