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The Science of Discworld

(Science of Discworld #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  9,964 ratings  ·  392 reviews
When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own. And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 416 pages
Published May 2nd 2002 by Ebury Press (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  9,964 ratings  ·  392 reviews


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Ahmad Sharabiani
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Science of Discworld (Science of Discworld #1), Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen

When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own.

And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the primal singularity of the Big Ba
...more
George
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, humor, nonfiction
Unfortunately the Science in this book was too basic for me, but I must applaud the authors for their approach through Discworld. Now, what kept me reading was the story of the wizards. I must point out that it was difficult not to cheat and skip over all the science chapters. But I would have enjoyed this book even more if I was younger.
Nataliya
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Real review to follow.

Once upon a time, there was Discworld. There still is an adequate supply.
Discworld is the flat world, carried through space on the back of a giant turtle, which has been the source of, so far, twenty-three novels, four maps, an encyclopaedia, two animated series, t-shirts, scarves, models, badges, beer, embroidery, pens, posters, and probably, by the time this is published, talcum powder and body splash (if not, it can only be a matter of time).

----------------------------
...more
Chris
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pratchett, science
Back in the late 90s, there was a whole slew of "Science Of...." books. The science of Star Trek, X-Files, Star Wars, all of them did their best to explain the fantastic in terms of what we already knew about science. They weren't trying to disprove these worlds - saying that warp speed is impossible, for example, or how The Force violates any number of natural laws - but rather they tried to figure out how we could explain these things, and perhaps, someday, make them real.

This isn't that sort
...more
Tristia Watson
Imagine sitting down to read a book from your favorite author. At the end of the first chapter your friend takes away the book and replaces it with a transcript of the show Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson. You like Cosmos and Mr Tyson is interesting so you read it. At the first break, your friend takes away Cosmos and replaces it with the book by your favorite author that you had started reading. Now imagine doing this 45 more times and you have the idea behind The Science of Discworld.

The Terry
...more
YouKneeK
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
The Science of Discworld is an odd sort of Discworld book. Based on the name, I had thought it was going to delve into more detail about the fictional workings of the Discworld. Like, say, how the giant turtle and the elephants stay alive outside of an atmosphere or how water on the Discworld gets replenished when it keeps falling off the disc… If that last sentence makes it sound like I’ve gone off the deep end, then you clearly haven’t tried reading Discworld.

The science in this book is actual
...more
Ann-Marie
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Discworld runs on magic. Roundworld runs on science.
I repeat: Roundworld runs on science.
Criticalsock
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My girlfriend tried to buy this book for me while we were browsing a second hand bookshop. I said "No thanks" and I said it firmly because I really don't like those series tie in books that people write which might have the original authors name on the cover but are actually written by second rate hacks hired by the publisher to milk the last drop of cash from the cow.

Luckily my girlfriend ignored me completely and bought it anyway because this is not one of those books.

This book doesn't try and
...more
Alexa Billow
Recommended for people who have had the following thoughts:
"I've heard a lot about this Discworld business, but I wish it had, like, science, you know?"
"I love Discworld, but I wish there was a book that was even more of the wizards of Unseen University being dicks to each other."
"I love popular science nonfiction, but what if I could read a fantasy novel at the same time?"

The wizards of Unseen University (and Rincewind) have accidentally created a pocket universe, and in that universe is a worl
...more
Sesana
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Although I loved the book, the title is maybe a little misleading. Unlike The Science of Star Trek or The Science of Harry Potter, which will explain in exhaustive detail how it might be scientifically possible to build a transporter or a flying broom, The Science of Discworld uses the wizards of Discworld to explain science in our world. Which on the Disc is called Roundworld, and is a wizard's experiment to see how a world without magic or narrativium works.

There's no attempt to explain anythi
...more
Aaron
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't expect your typical lighthearted novel as you'd normally get from Terry Pratchett. Instead, you will find a hilarious, whimsical look at the deep scientific theories and explanations of how scientists believe our universe and world works. If you've avoided topics like gravitational forces, quantum theory or evolution, then this is the book for you! Seriously.
The magic of this book is how the authors take the unreality of Discworld and use it to show the reader how our universe and world wo
...more
Ralph McEwen
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I think this is a really good book. I was surprised to find that it had alternating chapters of Discworld focus (entertainment) and our real world focus (science). I think many people would enjoy this Discworld portion and get a better grasp of what science can and can not accomplish by reading this book . I would get a kick out of seeing this book listed in the bibliography of some high school science report. There is enough real information to be used in that manner.

I think this format of tea
...more
John
May 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: d_n_f
First book I DNF'd after 30%. I wanted a good fiction and what we got was a class on the creation of the universe. Eh, so disappointed. ...more
Luke (TheGingerBookWorm)
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own. And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the primal singularity of the Big Bang to the Internet and beyond.

Being a huge lover of science and discworld this was just perf
...more
Michael
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the Discworld bits, but only four stars for the science bits. Why's that?

Someone without a science background, or who hasn't read much in the way of popular science, would get MUCH more out of the "real world" parts. Consider this a strong recommendation for that audience. They cover a lot of ground and also took the time to update parts several years after initial publication. On top of that, I hadn't heard of axions before, so I learned something!
...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020, 2011, science
1/3 wacky adventures of the Unseen University, 2/3 popular science, The Science of Discworld is not the best of either, but it manages to be moderately funny, and moderately informative. Since it's about a decade old as of this writing, it's mostly interesting to see how our knowledge of exoplanets and the outer solar system has changed.

But really, why isn't there a Philosophy of Discworld?

****

On a reread, I'm less impressed. Having done a PhD in the interval, the faculty of the Unseen Universit
...more
Cyk
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
OK..first off I'd like too point out i have a slightly better than average grasp on the 3 main sciences...but only slightly.
the science isn't really "dumbed down" much, but even if that fly's right over your head the comedy is still gold and worth a read.

the way Terry wrote this was in alternating chapters, one with stories of "our" science, then one with the sciences from the last chapter looked at and explained from the point of view of the diskworld wizards looking at it "in a bottle"....i gu
...more
Dan
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
There are a ton of these auxiliary-Discworld books out there, and most of them have typically been difficult to find. Luckily, it looks like they're getting easier to track down, which is exciting.

I wasn't sure what to expect opening the book, but I'm happy with how it was presented -- alternating chapters of the Wizards (who I never felt had enough books in the latter half of Pratchett's writings) and a deep dive into a pop science topic. While the information in many cases is already dated (!)
...more
Steve
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly hard to categorize, it contains elements of non-fiction, fiction, humour and some good old admonishing. It was, in a word, brilliant, and while there very definitely was a plot, it kept getting pushed aside for explanations, both serious and humourous. I very much enjoyed the climax and the resolution. I will have to continue with the series, and try and contain my absolute missing of Pratchett.
Anneke
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
For me personally it is always harder to read a non-fiction book. It is a shame, because this book is actually a nice mix between science and fiction. Still I struggled at times to keep focussed, eventough the topics are interesting enough. Still 4 stars because I think it is a great idea to mix the information with the storyline like this.
Karen Masters
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Starting to be a little dated and (as an astronomer) I noticed a few errors in the astronomy, but still very interesting and a nice combination of discworld wizards and round world science and history. Some prescient comments about the state of politics in the world.
Nusrat Farzana
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the Librarian and the Bursar!
Phil Leader
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
If there was an award for most misleadingly titled book, this would on the shortlist. Not only is it most definitely not about the science of Discworld, it is also not some sort of shameless cash-in on a well-loved author.

What this book is, then, is a 'popular science' book, dressed up with some (typically amusing) interludes featuring the wizards of Unseen University as they try to understand how our world can work without magic and stories. Pratchett was always keen to educate, and here he tri
...more
Bronwyn
Really fun. Alternates chapters between the wizards at UU and chapters about the actual science and history of what's happening on Roundworld. A good way to get basic science history and still have a fun Discworld story. ...more
Andrea
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pratchett chapters are great, the science chapters a bit outdated, but still enjoyable.
Gabriele Russo
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a fun way to learn about evolution and space. Sadly, it did not make me more of an environmentalist as it pretty much agreed with my take on all this: humans can destroy themselves, but not the planet... The reverse, however, might well be true ;)
Kat
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
Super fun book. Chapters rotate through history of science and a fun origin story of our world via Discworld, a lovely fantasy world.
Kenneth Wade
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
First of all, I would like to say that after the first 10 chapters, I decided to skip every Earthen science chapter. I found all these science chapters to be incredibly tedious and boring.
Therefore, this review will mainly be my thoughts on the other portion of the book.

~Spoiler Free~

POSITIVE ASPECTS:
+ The characters in this book were phenomenal. They're so entertaining and hilarious.

+ The humor in this book is actually funny. I laughed out loud several times.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS:

- Obviously, I
...more
Kathleen
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Okay, this is the reason it took me forever to get on with the Great Discworld Reread, because I kind of got stuck on this book for two months.

The Science of Discworld is half a Discworld novel (well, more of a novella, since it's actually quite short) about the wizards first inventing magical nuclear power and then using it to create Roundworld, aka our Earth. The other half (or more like three-quarters) of the book is scientists Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen explaining the physical and biological
...more
Silent_count
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wonder if math and sciences would be more popular if they had writers of Pratchett's quality to write the textbooks. I mean, a phone book provides information but isn't exactly pleasurable to read, much like many textbooks I've come across which are undoubtedly informative but dull and utterly unenjoyable. Would there be more (for example) biologists if the writing quality of the textbooks were such that students would want to read them rather than being forced to by a teacher or parent?

Therei
...more
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Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, i
...more

Other books in the series

Science of Discworld (4 books)
  • The Globe (The Science of Discworld, #2)
  • Darwin's Watch (The Science of Discworld, #3)
  • Judgement Day (The Science of Discworld, #4)

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