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. . .
©1999 Terry and Lyn Pratchett, Joat Enterprises, Jack Cohen (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
Science has never been this entertaining. Complex themes are well presented, then dissected and lastly presented in Discworld terms. Had a happy smile the whole way through and many things make much more sense now.
I have to say that, while I did enjoy this I did find some of the science a little hard to follow. But it was still good to listen to. It alternates, one chapter of science, then one chapter of a short story on the wizards, science, wizards, ect… And because of how audible has set this up, one chapter per track, you can skip all the science and just have the story if you want to.
A nice addition to my Disc World collection, magic meets science, and it turns out the two might not be so different, though magic makes more sense. This book also contains a good collection of boffin like phrases to memorise and impress friends with, just as long as they don’t ask you to explain any of them.
Over all a good book, a nice short story and a good chance that a bit of scientific knowledge might have lodge in ones brain by the time you get to end of it.
a great mix of disc world story and real life science. explains where some of the ideas for disc world came from. The science is very informative but written in a way that is easy to understand. The disc world parts have Terry Pratchetts normal humor. Mainly set in unseen university with the wizards.
As much as I enjoy the Discworld, the rest of Pratchett's writing seems to be at a different level altogether. This one is no exception, I am afraid.
Well, to start with, it's just another popular science book. There are scores of them out there, and it escapes me why Pratchett thought the world needed another one.
To make it worse, there are multiple inaccuracies, both factual and methodological. Why does the smoke rise? Not because it's lighter than air (well, true), but 'because it's hot'. I'll go put the kettle on and see if it starts floating. The second law of thermodynamics does NOT say that things can't get more complex. That's neither the wording nor the meaning of it. It says that in a closed system entropy will increase over the time until it reaches the maximum; what Pratchett did with it is simply bad taste. These are just two of many, and I fear to imagine what he's got in fields I have no knowledge of.
More annoyingly, he keeps calling common misconceptions 'lies for children' - e.g.,the bit about Walking With Dinosaurs where the creative license was, apparently, abused too much. I haven't watched it, so I don't know, although I have little hope. The funny thing is that he plunges into speculations of his own (feathers, for example) straight after 'debunking' those of others because of lack of evidence.
What I don't understand is that an amateur knock-up could be expected from a journalist and a fiction writer, but he's got two others with him, and they are proper academics with PhDs. Ok, one is a mathematician and the other one a zoologist, but nobody's perfect, and even they should've picked up if not on the detail, but at least on the treatment of evidence.
The sciency part was supposed to be augmented by the plot line about Discworld, but it's so clumsily harassed into fitting the main line that the effect is the opposite.
To make matters worse, the narration is tediously dull. Think The Selfish Gene read by Dawkins himself; in fact, the similarity is co close that I had to go back and check.
Above all, Pratchett completely ignores the matter of Intelligent Design and the almighty God which would explain everything much better than his para-science ramblings and lies about evolution. Only joking. In fact, I gave it two stars rather than one for two reasons: well, one is that he's more or less scientific if quite inaccurate. The other one is that he at least tries in places to stick to the evidence - I thought that the climate change part more or less balanced.
But other than that, I will return this one and won't bother with the sequels.
I did actually read this when it was just released, but found it Very heavy going! In audio format you tend to concentrate more as you can't keep 're reading sentences, so you try harder to take it in first time! also you are not bogged down by pronunciation leaving you again free to take it in first time! on the whole I preferred the second book, due to more of a story about the wizards, discworld and how it relates to"roundworld" ! I really felt obliged to revisit them ALL in order now there will be no more...
I listen rather than read on train journeys as I can't stand being jostled by other travelers, and walking & listening is so easy
This series of books is a "must" for Discworld fans, the way it switches between the fact based information and the story is good, bringing the background of scientific fact together with the short story that is written specifically for these books
They all seem to be based around the time frame of the recent book, so they try to carry on with the characters in the Unseen University and give a spin on what's happening around them, having a running overall story-line between the books
If you love the Discworld characters, especially the wizards, then this book and the follow ups are definitely worth a listen - Stephen Briggs is as brilliant as he is with all of the Discworld books, and Michael Fenton Stephens has a great way of conveying the facts explained in the books
I have always been a fan of both Discworld and science, Pratchett, Stewart and Cohen manage to explain non-trivial scientific concepts in ways that are easy to understand.
Warning: Contains science :) But more importantly, the wizards of the Unseen University make a welcome return.
More science than story, but when there is a story, Terry Pratchett is on the money with the humour.
The wizards of unseen university
As good as any other, he is a very good narrator.
Manages to capture the humour and joy that Terry Pratchett radiates in his books.
A really intelligent book that mixes the fantasy of the discworld with the magic of real world science. Really enjoyed the humour and would recommend this to Discworld fans as well as others.
I was rather suprised to find an interesting discworld story with the wizzards and the information given about how it works on "Round World". Although those parts were hard to listen for me, there is quite a lot of fun in the whole book, too. Definitely worth having and listening to.
Also if you dont like the science parts you can skip them, as another review writer already pointed out.
"Science and lies to children"
Mostly focuses on the science of our universe, with a side of wizard shenanigans. Some rather heavy detail in the science part so you will need basic understanding science to get most of it. The wizards parts are classic Pratchett, and therefore very entertaining.
The narrators are excellent and Stevens does a good job performing the science parts while Briggs handles story.
Contains a balanced view of opposing scientific theories, and will forever be remembered for the "Lies to children" term.
Discworld and its magic, meat Round world and its science. How can you not love it?
"Combines Knowledge Bombs with humor and Discworld"
If there is any trilogy I can recommend to a fan of humor, fantasy or Discworld, it would inevitably be the Science of Discworld series.
Co-written by Pratchett (Narrative) Stewart (Science) and Cohen (Science), The science of Discworld offers an amusing but insightful perspective into our beliefs, our knowledge, and our behaviors.
One friend of mine described it as the Ketamine of the book world. You begin to analyse yourself for the behaviors mentioned in the book, and to grasp at how ultimate and expansive this universe is.
Great work of scientific art.
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