Diminishing weirdness


The New York Times Book of Physics and Astronomy (edited by Cornelia Dean) is a hefty collection of over a hundred years’ worth of science reporting from the newspaper. Aside from just being interesting in themselves, the articles, taken together, trace a history of developments in science and the way they are reported, and of course there is a gradual relaxation in the tone of the reporting – the dropping of “Mr” and the like. Aside from following the evolution of the scientific history, the book is also conducive to browsing.

The big names turn up regularly – Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger (above). As do the latest trends – quantum theory, Big Bang, string theory – which then become more than simply trends as they are entrenched in the overall picture. Yet, as our understanding of the physical workings of the cosmos becomes more sophisticated there is no corresponding diminishing of the weirdness of it all. It seems the more we investigate, the stranger the universe seems – black holes, undetectable matter, “spooky action at a distance”…



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