In the 'fantasy' universe of the phenomenally bestselling Discworld series, everything runs on magic and common sense. The world is flat and million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten. Our world seems different - it runs on rules, often rather strange ones. Science is our way of finding out what those rules are. The appeal of Discworld is that it mostly makes sense, in a way that particle physics does not. The Science of Discworld uses the magic of Discworld to illuminate the scientific rules that govern our world. 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. Roundworld is, of course, our own universe. With us inside it (eventually). Guided (if that's the word) by the wizards, we follow its story from the primal singularity of the Big Bang to the Internet and beyond. We discover how puny and insignificant individual lives are against a cosmic backdrop of creation and disaster. Yet, paradoxically, we see how the richness of a universe based on rules has led to a complex world and at least one species that tried to get a grip on what was going on. . .
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In the universe of Discworld, events follow the dictates of commonsense in a way that the particle physics of our own world does not.Review:
Terry Pratchett needs no introduction. Ian Stewart has written fine non-fiction books on mathematics, and he and Jack Cohen collaborated on the quirkily inventive pop-science titles The Collapse of Chaos and Figments of Reality. What on earth, or on Discworld, are they all doing in the same book? Pratchett provides a very funny 30,000-word novella about Discworld science, beginning in the High Energy Magic faculty of Unseen University and leading his eccentric wizards to investigate an alien cosmos where there's no magic to keep things going. This is the Roundworld universe--ours. The key point: much that's true only on Discworld (eg that suns orbit planets and not vice-versa) was once believed on Earth and the wizards' comic misunderstandings echo the history of real science...Unusually, Pratchett's story is split into chapters and in between his chapters Stewart and Cohen wittily discuss the concepts underlying the fiction, from the Big Bang through stellar formation to life and evolution. Much of the science we know, they cheerfully insist, is "lies-to-children": good stories that are mostly untrue, like thinking of atoms as tiny solar systems. Discworld operates by narrative plausibility and so does human thought even when our Roundworld universe disagrees. Between the laughs, The Science of Discworld is a provocative, informative book that'll make you think about what you think you know. -- David Langford
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Book Description EBURY PRESS, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110091874777