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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch: 3
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The Science of the Discworld III is another highly readable book from Pratchett, Stewart and Cohen that uses the interaction between the Discworld and the Wizards accidental `roundworld' universe to teach some interesting ideas about evolution.

The story is set on the Discworld. The Wizards of Unseen University have accidentally created a universe. But this is a universe without magic, where worlds are spherical rather than discs. They set about observing this universe from its creation through to the formation of life. This time around the Wizards are interested in evolution, and the ideas of a certain C. Darwin.

Each chapter of the entertaining and usually hilarious Discworld story from Pratchett alternates with a chapter of real science from Stewart and Cohen (both great communicators with wry senses of humour) which explains in our terms what just happened in the Discworld story.

It's well written, easy to follow, introduced me to many scientific concepts that I did not know about previously, and is probably the most educational book I have ever read. So many of the ideas and explanations were firmly lodged in my mind after reading this, many more than remain from my student days, when I was supposed to be studying this kind of thing! (But which I didn't really study too hard because I spent most of my time reading Terry Pratchett books...)

The one niggle here is that it doesn't flow quite as well as the previous two book. This feels like a set of essays strung together rather than a uniform piece, and Pratchett's Discworld short story never quite seems to catch fire. But it's a minor point, it is only compared to previous books that this feels a little weak, it is still a strong and educational read in it's own right.

It's an excellent book, one that I recommend. 4 stars.
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on 29 October 2008
Agree with several other reviewers. It is a good book, but the science section spends too much time on speculative modern physics, most of which is obviously bad science. Even when it covered special relatively, trying to describe Minkowski diagrams without drawing them, is more confusing than useful.

Still I learnt a lot about Darwin, and his life. But the authors set a high standard with I and II, and this definitely slipped somewhat.
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on 23 January 2009
This was an unequal balance between Pratchett's madcap and inventive story chapters sandwiched between long science essays. The Discworld glimpses are too short, the essays too long for a pleasurable read. I often found myself skipping whole pages trying to find the point of an essay and wishing the wizards would take over!
Some of the science bits are fascinating, and they all seem well researched and generally well argued. Hearing the string of events and coincidences that led to Darwin developing and finally publishing his theory was amazing, but most chapters are just overlong and with a strong bias against bible loving Americans. One chapter really struck me as odd, where three paragraphs explained how time machines worked, and the next 16 pages were spent proving how they couldn't. The conclusion took two chapters to get through. Interesting concepts, but too much indulgence by the authors.
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on 7 November 2011
Of course this is another Discworld story, and it's a good one, but this time it's wrapped up in some extremely interesting and accessible explanations about how the Universe works. I learned a great deal. I would suggest, though, that it be read at least twice, because some of the more complicated areas of theoretical physics, intelligence and extelligence theory, and Darwin's theory of evolution etc will be hard to assimilate in just one read-through. I would also say that the book rather changed my personal views on evolution: I'd always rather tended towards the creationist theory, but now, finally, evolution has been explained to be in such a way that I'm prepared to change my mind. Enjoy!
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on 8 September 2013
You need to be a real Pratchett fan to persist with this one. The Discworld ''short'' story alternates with the science chapters by the co-authors. Each successive science chapter seems to get longer and longer as well as more complex with some pretty heavy science concepts included. These need careful reading even for someone with some science background but would probably lose anyone without. and the link with Terry's Discworld story gets a bit lost at times as the co-authors get into their stride. Because of the science input, the book ( hardback) is large though Terry's Discworld story is basically short but entertaining non the less.
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on 8 April 2014
As with the other SoD books, Darwin's Watch alternates chapters by Pratchett set on the Discworld where a set of very confused wizards (is there another type?) try to figure out what's going on in the Round World they've accidentally created, with chapters explaining the science behind it written by professors Cohen & Stewart. As you can probably deduce from the title, the primary theme is that of evolution and how our views of it have changed over the years but also how science and the "scientific method" work in general.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 August 2006
Terry Pratchett is always a joy to read and it is pretty obvious why he is one of the best selling, if not the best selling British author of all time. To say that Mr. Pratchett is funny is like saying that ice cream is cold. If you have read any of his books you will know that Terry Pratchett is not only funny he is hilarious. I think that I have a good sense of humour, but for me laughing out loud while reading a book is something that does not usually happen.

The author has the knack of taking everyday happenings, postal strikes, newspaper publishing, government policies, the police force, I could go on and on and coming up with a solution for all their problems. He makes the reader thinks to himself, well, why doesn't it work like that in real life?

In this book the wizards of Unseen University feel vaguely responsible for the state that Roundworld has got itself into. After all they created the damn thing in the first place. The problem is things are happening that shouldn't be happening, and things aren't happening that should be happening, if you see what I mean.

History is slowly winding down and if the wizards don't put their finger . . . hand . . . wand in the mix, the human race are going to end up like the dinosaurs and we all know what happened to them.

Just another hilarious episode from the daddy of them all. Laugh, I nearly took the dog for a walk.
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on 17 February 2013
I bought this book because Terry Pratchett always entertains while at the same time skewing my worldview causing me to awaken to ridiculous assumptions and, usually therefore, discarding them. The fact that Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen are absolute geniuses is a bonus. It should be mandatory reading in all schools.
If I had friends, relatives or even acquaintances intelligent enough to appreciate this book, I would certainly recommend it.
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on 7 July 2012
Just topping up son's and my Pratchett collection - nearly there! All of Pratchett's books are addictive. All praise to Paul Kidby for the artwork - the illustrations just match the ideas in my head as I read the stories. Not read this series yet, but looking forward to it after Snuff.
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on 24 February 2013
I just wish we'd had Messrs Pratchett, Stewart et al as teachers when we were at school! This and the first two in the series should be required reading in the Bible Belt in America. Can't wait for the fourth to be published...
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