100 Most Important Science Ideas

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 July, 2011, 12:00am


100 Most Important Science Ideas
by Mark Henderson, Joanne Baker, Tony Crilly
Faber & Faber

Be honest: are you able (or at least curious enough) to answer these eight questions?

1. Are designer babies really designed?

2. Can a cat be both alive and dead at the same time?

3. Why is the night sky dark, if the universe, full of bright stars, has no ending?

4. What number would get the 'Oscar for numbers' every year? Hint: 3.1415926535 ...

5. What extinct large mammal can be brought back to life by DNA cloning technology from Siberian permafrost?

6. Given the presence of billions of stars and planets, why have we not yet been spotted by aliens? Are they just too busy or not interested in us boring guys?

7. Why are we safe from lightning when flying in a plane during a typhoon?

8. Is there a chance you can win a million dollars offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute? Just prove the Riemann hypothesis of 1859 starting with addition of fractions of the kind 1+ 1/2+ 1/3 + ? + 1/5 + ... what happens to the total?

Intrigued? This book explains 100 key concepts in modern science in an easily understandable language.

The ideas range from the simple to the sophisticated and include chaos theory, genetic diseases, DNA tests, string theory, gene therapy, superconductivity, fractals, cloning and game theory.

Divided into three sections - genetics, physics, and mathematics - each section is written by one of the authors. Mark Henderson is a specialist in genetics, Joanne Baker is editor of Nature and a physics major, and Tony Crilly is a mathematics instructor.

I highly recommend the book for all curious people, even those with no scientific background.

The book embodies two admirable tenets: science is fun and don't be boring.