Book Review by Cari Mayhew.
This book is quite possibly the best thing ever published by New Scientist. It’s more speculation than science, but that’s what makes it so entertaining!
The book walks you through 55 separate thought experiments, tackling not only physics, but also alternate history, sociology, and environmental studies. It will prompt you to think off 55 things you may never have thought before, and gives tasters of a broad range of topics.
It’s intended for the layperson, but it does help if you’ve already heard of certain theories – though it doesn’t rely on a good grasp of them. That said, I often had to re-read passages as I felt unsure of what I’d just read.
Some articles were more entertaining than others – the ones I enjoyed most were: “Should you care about your parallel lives?” “What if we could see the future but not do anything about it?” and “Is consciousness just a state of matter?”
Some articles were surprising, such as the one suggesting we’ll have a population implosion. Likewise, there was the article on the advantages of the melting of the icecaps. Some remarks within articles were outlandishly far-fetched however, such as that it’s inevitable that we will transfer our minds onto computers. Some articles are reassuring, such as the one on running out of resources, or the one on the Antarctic having forests. The article on saving the world by becoming vegetarian was lacking, though.
In conclusion, this is a very thought provoking read, and will leave you with more questions than answers.