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Darwin's Watch: Science of Discworld III Hardcover – 5 May 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st Edition edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091898234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091898236
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 3 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"a cut above the competition…well-expressed and up-to-date debates...a fun book which deserves to be taken very seriously indeed" -- New Scientist

Book Description

The number 1 Sunday Times bestsellng third instalment in the Science of Discworld series --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David Porter on 19 May 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've read the previous two Science books then this might be a two edged sword. There is an increase in the science presented to the reader, tackling such topics as potential time travel, the physics of time, evolution, mechanisms of change and biological interaction.
What there is not is a lot of Pratchett, the ammount of linking text has dropped considerably from the previous narratives and almost looks like it was written round the science essays, which may come as a dissapointment for some fans.
There is also a very strong anti "bible belt" vein to the science writting which may affect the US sales. All said however this is an enjoyable format which will introduce yet more "hard" science to the reader.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 6 Jun 2005
Format: Hardcover
. . . to the butterfly that was stomped on. Among physicists there is a theory about multiple universes. Each time a decision is made or an action taken, a new universe is created. If a butterfly stomps its left front foot, a new universe with a different sequence of history forms. Stomp the right foot and yet another arises. If, as in Ray Bradbury's famous "The Sound of Thunder", a butterfly is stepped on millions of years ago, how different might our present be? The sequence of events in each scenario may alter only slightly - or be wildly divergent. This idea underlies the theme of the third Discworld science book conceived by Terry Pratchett and his colleagues.
If this is the first "Science of Discworld" you've encountered, some background is essential. Using a surplus of magic, Hex, the Discworld's version of Deep Thought, has created an new universe. Tucked away in that creation is a Roundworld - the one we live on. There is neither magic nor the binding force of the Discworld cosmos, "narrativium" here. Stories cannot be fathomed until they end. There is no logical sequence on which to build events. "Random" is the key word. The result is that Roundworld has evolved many lifeforms, nearly all of which have be killed off by massive ice sheets, poisonous gases or huge stones from space. Only one thing can save Roundworld's humanity from its own extinction event. Charles Darwin must sit down and write "The Origin of Species" to make humans understand how life here works. The knowledge will allow them to escape. This Science of Discworld volume was published in the USA, reflecting the need for just such knowledge to gain ground within that superpower. Relevance to the situation in the UK, however, remains high.
The Discworld's wizards have a portal to Roundworld.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Feb 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The third in a series of discworld books that are half fiction and half fact. The fiction bits are based around the wizards and their misadventures in roundworld [earth] a world they accidentally created. The chapters of this are interdispersed with non fiction ones about science.

The trouble with this one is that the discworld section just feels over familiar and doesn't really grab. And the science chapters are variable. Some that tell the story of charles darwin and his work are engrossing. Others get into different areas that can be heavy going at times.

So not a bad book all in all, just not the strongest entry in the series
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 4 Aug 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While not as good as the two previous "Science of Discworld" books, it is still as accessible a science book as you will find.

Dealing mostly with evolution (there is some physics), I wonder if this is partly a response of a science minded writer to the attempts of the religeous lobby to popularise pseudoscience like ID. Based on the premise that Charles Darwin never wrote "The Origin of Species" but instead wrote "Theology of Species", we are taken on a journey as to why Darwin wrote what he did and why the theory of evolution has stood the test of time.

As to criticisms that they book is openly hostile to religion, it is not. It feels more like the author has lost patience with those that try to force the facts to fit a preconceived world view rather than let the facts speak for themselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Taylor on 6 April 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you haven't read the other two books in the series then the first thing you should know is this book consists of alternating chapters of Discworld-based fiction and non-fiction chapters discussing scientific topics touched on by the story. The scientific chapters are significantly longer than the Discworld ones so don't expect a full length story of the kind found in one of the novels.

Pratchett's writing is excellent as usual but the meat of the book is in the science. Cohen and Stewert are both very good at explaining complicated ideas clearly and they touch on time-travel, infinity, evolution and more in the course of the book. There's also a fairly good historical section based around Darwin. The writing manages to strike a balance between staying accessible to those without much background in science while having enough depth to keep the more scientifically literate reader interested: don't be fooled by the fact it's sandwiched into a work of fiction, this is definitely not dumbed down!

There are a few minor flaws, however, which prevent me from giving this book the full five stars. The historical section contains some careless mistakes, the most glaring of which is the authors' incorrect identification of Charles Lyell as the first person to argue for the antiquity of the Earth. This error leads them to claim that his views on Deep Time influenced Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia (p. 247), a book published three years before Lyell was even born! Also, while the writers' have a gift for describing complicated ideas, some of the sections (especially those on physics) would have benefited enormously from a few diagrams. Finally, the lack of a bibliography or suggestions for further reading makes it difficult to follow up on some of the fascinating topics covered.

Please don't get the wrong ideas from these criticisms though: this book is great and would heartily recommend it any Discworld fan with the slightest interest in science.
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