It has been said that we live in an age of ‘alternative facts’. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve learned that ‘following the science’ is not synonymous with ‘following the facts’. The question bears asking: what is the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory? Have we misunderstood what science can, and can’t, be used for? Which questions can we reasonably expect ‘scientific experts’ to be able to answer? Are there questions that are simply unanswerable? And how do scientists handle those?
Editor: James Harding, Co-founder and Editor, Tortoise.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS is a theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He is a University of Surrey Distinguished Chair where he has also held a personal chair in physics since 2005 alongside a university chair in the Public Engagement in Science. He is the author of The World According to Physics which unravels the fundamental principles of quantum theory, relativity and thermodynamics in clear equations-free prose.
About the Book
Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.
Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics—quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics—showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full understanding of reality. Using wonderful examples and thought-provoking analogies, Al-Khalili illuminates the physics of the extreme cosmic and quantum scales, the speculative frontiers of the field, and the physics that underpins our everyday experiences and technologies, bringing the reader up to speed with the biggest ideas in physics in just a few sittings. Physics is revealed as an intrepid human quest for ever more foundational principles that accurately explain the natural world we see around us, an undertaking guided by core values such as honesty and doubt. The knowledge discovered by physics both empowers and humbles us, and still, physics continues to delve valiantly into the unknown.
Making even the most enigmatic scientific ideas accessible and captivating, this deeply insightful book illuminates why physics matters to everyone and calls one and all to share in the profound adventure of seeking truth in the world around us.
Jim Al-Khalili is professor of physics at the University of Surrey. He is one of Britain’s best-known science communicators and has written numerous books, including Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed; The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance; and Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and lives in Southsea, England. Twitter @jimalkhalili