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Magic Universe: A Grand Tour of Modern Science [Paperback]

Nigel Calder
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 11.55 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Oct 2005
As a prolific author, BBC commentator, and magazine editor, Nigel Calder has spent a lifetime spotting and explaining the big discoveries in all branches of science. In Magic Universe, he draws on his vast experience to offer readers a lively, far-reaching look at modern science in all its glory, shedding light on the latest ideas in physics, biology, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, and many other fields.
What is truly magical about Magic Universe is Calder's incredible breadth. Migrating birds, light sensors in the human eye, black holes, antimatter, buckyballs and nanotubes--with exhilarating sweep, Calder can range from the strings of a piano to the superstrings of modern physics, from Pythagoras's theory of musical pitch to the most recent ideas about atoms and gravity and a ten-dimensional universe--all in one essay. The great virtue of this wide-ranging style--besides its liveliness and versatility--is that it allows Calder to illuminate how the modern sciences intermingle and cross-fertilize one another. Indeed, whether discussing astronauts or handedness or dinosaurs, Calder manages to tease out hidden connections between disparate fields of study. What is most wondrous about the "magic universe" is that one can begin with stellar dust and finish with life itself.
Drawing on interviews with more than 200 researchers, from graduate students to Nobel prize-winners, Magic Universe takes us on a high-spirited tour through the halls of science, one that will enthrall everyone interested in science, whether a young researcher in a high-tech lab or an amateur buff sitting in the comfort of an armchair.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (13 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192806696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192806697
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 710,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'probably the broadest sweep of current science in one book... Each essayis excellently written in a style which is both entertaining and informative. Magic Universe takes us on an amazing tour through the length and breadth of science. The reader can open the book anywhere and find some fascinating facts, historical insights or just a good story. Once picked up, this book is difficult tp put down, and readers will find themselves returning to it time after time for well-written science at its interdisciplinary best. David Chamberlain, Chemistry World It's this truly immense feat of multi-disciplinary conciliation, as much as the essays themselves, which explains the sublime nature of existence. Calder's own trick is that in a mere instant he can apparently transform the general reader into a superbrain. His dispatches from some of the farthest outreaches of contemporary science are concise and precise, as opposed to simple, but he has a gift for making the conceptually baffling seem approachable. 'Magic Universe' may be a little unwieldly to hold, it is exceedingly difficult to put down. Laurence Phelan, Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Nigel Calder is the author of dozens of books on science, including Einstein's Universe, Restless Earth, Nuclear Nightmares, Spaceship Earth, and The Manic Sun. The former editor of New Scientist, he has conceived and scripted many special science documentaries for BBC Television. He lives in the United Kingdom.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ESSAYS would be too grand a term, implying closures that, thank goodness, science never achieves. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beginners guide to scientific fun 30 Jun 2007
Nigel Calder offers up a clear, concise, interesting and insightful tour of some of the big issues in science today. He takes the reader on a rollercoaster journey through psychology, physics, biology and paleontology - covering a diversity of topics from the Big Bang, black holes and brain images, onto the Cambrian Explosion and primate behaviour and including Time Machines, Superstring Theory and much, much more.

Chapters are linked together by ideas, and handy cross referencs are provided throughout the book. As Calder's work unfolds the reader develops a gradual idea of how different facets of science link together.

If you have read (and understood!) Stephen Hawkins, Richard Dawkins and Robert Winston, this book may prove too superficial to really challenge your thinking.

In contrast, The Magic Universe is more like a chunky magazine or a really good set of newspaper articles than a book.

With that in mind, if you're looking for a relaxed and enjoyeable introduction to a diveristy of scientific topics, you won't go far wrong with this choice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Universe - Magic book 4 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Brilliant read. Explains concepts simply and easily. Covers a wide area of modern science. Well worth reading by anyone who has queries about the more popular areas of modern science. Aimed at the intelligent layman. I recommend it to everyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the book is very educational 19 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is fuil of small concentrated (a few pages in each) information about a large range of subjects.
I have had it as a printed book for several years but it is nice to have a copy in my kindle for mobile
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4.0 out of 5 stars Popular Science 21 Jan 2013
The kind of book that Isaac Asimov used to write so well, a compendium of pieces about general science in bite sized chunks, easy to digest but quite informative. A point dropped for the book's organization. Alphabetical order just doesn't work very well with science; it would have been better sorted into the various disciplines.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Give it a miss 16 July 2008
By Antony
I found the book was too disjointed. Topics started off on a tangent and he tries to make it sound interesting by throwing some casual facts about the people or place it occurred, but it makes it hard to follow and a disjointed read. I wouldn't bother with this one there are better books around.
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