This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works

This-Explains-EverythingIn This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world's best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more, everything is explained in fun, uncomplicated terms that make the most complex concepts easy to comprehend.

Every year, the website Edge.org—a sort of online round table where experts in various fields trade ideas—asks its contributors a specific question. The 2012 Edge question was, “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” (A beautiful or elegant explanation is one that reduces a complex puzzle to a simple set of principles or assumptions.)

The responses Brockman, founder of Edge, received range from the obvious (Darwin’s theory of natural selection; DNA’s double helix shape; the principle of inertia) to the obscure (the Higgs Mechanism, for example, or the Faurie-Raymond hypothesis). The more than 100 responses have a couple of things in common: they are clearly written, and their authors are enthusiastic, in some cases downright passionate, about selling their response as the one true answer to the Edge question. It’s an eclectic collection of contributors, too: famed theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson is here, but also actor and writer Alan Alda; noted psychologist Susan Blackmore weighs in, as does musician and producer Brian Eno. A thought-provoking collection that should appeal to both general readers and trained scientists.

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