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If you love science and you love art, you will find this book as irresistible as we do. The authors invited seventy-five artists to make illustrations based on questions posed to fifty scientists. Each two-page spread features the scientist’s question and answer on one side and an artist’s interpretation on the other.
The questions are ones most of us all wonder about: What existed before the Big Bang? What is the origin of the moon? Why do we blush? How do migrating animal find their way back home? What did dinosaurs eat? How much of human behavior is predetermined? How do squirrels remember where they bury their nuts? Why do we hiccup? Why are humans and chimps so different if they have nearly identical DNA?
Even if there is no definitive answer (and sometimes there is not), you still get a pretty good explanation, and a summary of the state of the knowledge about the question at the present time. Most of the entries are succinct, clear, and understandable to the lay person, written by an array of contributors including physicists, aerospace engineers, biologists, research librarians, and quite a few professors.
The illustrations are outstanding. Sometimes you may not quite “get” them until you read the accompanying science piece, and then their cleverness impresses you all the more. The artists chosen by the compilers are from a mix of backgrounds, and include comic artists as well as fine artists. Most of the pictures are ones I wish I had on my walls.
At the end of the book, there are helpful indexes of not only of the questions explored, but of the names of contributing scientists and artists.
This book will provide endless stimulation, both intellectually and visually. The authors said their goal was to bringing back a sense of wonder in the age of Google and Wikipedia, and they have certainly succeeded.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Because if you do you'll look at this book and, much like I did, expect the illustrations to be more explanatory, much like you'd see in science textbooks. However, the artwork is more like what you'd see hanging in a coffee house. The artists seem to have done more artistic interpretations of the concepts. Some of the work is very nice, but much of it is mediocre. That's unfortunate because the actual information from a bevy of scientists is very accessible to the layperson. If only the art had aided that accessibility!
I was expecting the illustrations to actually help understand the questions, and for the answers to, you know, answer the questions. Unfortunately the words are super-tiny, and the illustrations are, well, abstract. And in many cases the answers did not actually answer the questions, just explained the premise. So, not that helpful actually.
I enjoy books on science, but this one is mediocre. The "questions" it answers are done very briefly and the answers often boil down to "no one knows" with some theories given. The art work sometimes is interesting but often adds little to the understanding or the enjoyment of the topic.
Love the illustrations so much. The articles are brief enough to allow a causal read for anyone dropping by for only a moment. I confess, I bought it with the intention of slicing out favorite images and framing them, but once I had the handsome volume in hand, I couldn't bear the thought. And generally, I have few qualms about cannibalizing books for their art.
A lot of fun, terrific illustrations. Nice hardbound book that I hope will be in our family for a long time. If you'd like to see some more examples of the illustrations (all of which are full-page, color), I recommend checking out the review at the blog "Book by it's Cover".
This book's explanations of natural phenomena--ranging from the cosmic to the microscopic--offer a unique exploration of the world around/within us. Those presented by scientists are articulate, accessible, and at times even funny. They are rooted in observation and focused research. The interpretations shared by artists are likewise based on dedicated study, but their artistic freedom allows them to present their subjects in rich, personal, and often beautiful ways.
Overall a beautiful book (inside and out--the cover and binding are very high quality). A great gift.
A very good little overview of some of the more interesting questions in current science, answered by well-qualified individuals and interestingly (though sometimes confusingly) illustrated. A nice little mind-massage.