This Explains Everything

This Explains Everything

Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works

Book - 2013
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"Drawn from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, This Explains Everything presents 150 of the most deep, surprising, and brilliant explanations of how the world works, with contributions by Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Harper Perennial, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780062230171
0062230174
Branch Call Number: 500 This
Characteristics: xx, 411 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Brockman, John 1941-

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JCLChrisK May 13, 2015

An interesting thought collage with a misleading title. The subtitle comes closer to capturing the contents: a collection of essays from a diverse group of thinkers responding to the question, What is your favorite deep, beautiful, or elegant explanation? From the preface:
"The contributions presented here embrace scientific thinking in the broadest sense: as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything--including such fields of inquiry as philosophy, mathematics, economics, history, language, and human behavior. The common thread is that a simple and nonobvious idea is proposed as the explanation for a diverse and complicated set of phenomena."
The resulting compilation makes for a fascinating mix--while all were potentially enlightening, I only found half truly engaging and a handful really entertaining--what I found most valuable was the landscape of ideas created, giving insight into the perspectives of the scholarly community. Some of the explanations--like evolution by natural selection--are well-known and get mentioned many times, while others are specific or esoteric or recent. As would be expected, the ones in my areas of interest were the most interesting to me, but all contributed to making a whole that was greater for the sum of its parts.
Perhaps most valuable was the introduction the book provided to a wealth of different thinkers. I've already investigated a good number because I wanted to know more about who they are, where they are coming from, and what they have done, and I was intrigued enough by a few that I'm planning on reading their books and other works.

j
john_doh17
Apr 07, 2014

Less an explanation, more an appreciation. The question that was asked was "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" That seems a lot different than how explaining how reality works in an understandable fashion. We like simple answers when reality is usually more complex than we notice. The consensus of the essays was that the theory of evolution seems to explain most of the important things in the world. There are some good essays in here, but it was a slog to get through this book as a whole.

p
PAULA BOLDUC
Feb 14, 2014

I will get back to commenting. I have just placed a hold on it. It sounds like a good introduction into how things work. I will see....

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