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This book is about my own personal favourite puzzles and conundrums in science, all of which have famously been referred to as paradoxes, but which turn out not to be paradoxes at all when considered carefully and viewed from the right angle. A true paradox is a statement that leads to a circular and self-contradictory argument, or one that describes a logically impossible situation. Our subject is 'perceived paradoxes' - questions or thought-experiments that on first encounter seem impossible to answer, but which science has been able to solve. Our tour of these mind-expanding puzzles will take us through some of the greatest hits of science - from Einstein's theories about space and time, to the latest ideas of how the quantum world works. Some of our paradoxes may be familiar, such as Schrödinger's famous cat, which is seemingly alive and dead at the same time; or the Grandfather Paradox - if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather you would not have been born and would not therefore have killed your grandfather. Other paradoxes will be new to you, but no less bizarre and fascinating. We will ask such questions as: how does the fact that it gets dark at night prove the Universe must have started with a big bang? Where are all the aliens? And why does the length of a piece of string vary depending on how fast it is moving? In resolving our paradoxes we will have to travel to the furthest reaches of the Universe and explore the very essence of space and time. Hold on tight.
In these lively and fascinating essays, scientists from around the world weigh in on the latest advances in the search for intelligent life in the universe and discuss just what that might look like. Since 2000, science has seen a surge in data and interest on several fronts related to E.T. (extraterrestrials); A.I. (artificial intelligence); and SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). The debate has intensified over whether life exists outside our solar system, what that life would look like, and whether we’ll ever make contact. Included here are essays from a broad spectrum of the scientific community: cosmologists, astrophysicists, NASA planetary scientists, and geneticists, to name just a few, discussing the latest research and theories relating to alien life. Some of the topics include: If life exists somewhere in space, what are the odds that it evolves into something we would recognize as intelligent? What will space travel look like in the future, and will it all be done by cyborg technology? How long until we are ruled by robot overlords? (This is actually a serious consideration.) Are we simply a simulation in the mind of some supreme being, acting out a virtual reality game? For those who have ever wondered, Is there anybody out there? here are the latest theories and evidence that move us closer to answering that question.
WATERSTONES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life? 'A book that can show you how to change your behaviour . . . explores human nature, neuroscience and genetics, enlivened by a sprinkling of anecdotes' Evening Standard 'A genial, optimistic book and a rather soothing read' The Sunday Times 'A brilliant book' Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow Walter Mischel’s now iconic 'marshmallow test,' one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope with painful emotions. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught? In his groundbreaking new book, Dr. Mischel draws on decades of compelling research and life examples to explore the nature of willpower, identifying the cognitive skills and mental mechanisms that enable it and showing how these can be applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way we think about who we are and what we can be. And since, as Mischel argues, a life with too much self-control can be as unfulfilling as one with too little, this book will also teach you when it’s time to ring the bell and enjoy that marshmallow.
This is not a conventional book. It is designed to stimulate and challenge all people who are curious to find out about the world they inhabit and their place within it. It does this by suggesting questions and lines of questioning on a wide range of topics. The book does not provide answers or model arguments but prompts people to create their own questions and a reading log or journal. To this end, almost all questions have a list of books or articles to provide a starter for stimulating further reading. Once you start, you will be hooked! Never stop questioning.
By the end of the nineteenth century, physicists had developed working theories to explain most of the questions relating to the observable world. In 1900, Max Planck set out to answer a simple question related to light bulbs. He had no idea his work would open the door to a new branch of physics—Quantum Mechanics. This volume explains the exciting scientific discoveries made at the dawn of Quantum Mechanics. Students will be fascinated by the important work being done the world’s most distinguished physicists—many of them contemporaries—including Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Marie Curie.

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