The Illustrated Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

by Richard Dawkins
Illustrator Dave McKean

Free Press | September 11, 2012 | Trade Paperback

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Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors invoked in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that a goddess swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. Aside from these extraordinary tales, there is another kind of magic that lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.

Packed with dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a wide range of natural phenomena. Having spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers, Richard Dawkins has now teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean to share the magic of science with readers of all ages: What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a stunning, illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 9.69 × 7.38 × 0.9 in

Published: September 11, 2012

Publisher: Free Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451690215

ISBN - 13: 9781451690217

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– More About This Product –

The Illustrated Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

by Richard Dawkins
Illustrator Dave McKean

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 9.69 × 7.38 × 0.9 in

Published: September 11, 2012

Publisher: Free Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451690215

ISBN - 13: 9781451690217

Read from the Book

1 WHAT IS REALITY? WHAT IS MAGIC? REALITY IS EVERYTHING that exists. That sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Actually, it isn’t. There are various problems. What about dinosaurs, which once existed but exist no longer? What about stars, which are so far away that, by the time their light reaches us and we can see them, they may have fizzled out? We’ll come to dinosaurs and stars in a moment. But in any case, how do we know things exist, even in the present? Well, our five senses – sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste – do a pretty good job of convincing us that many things are real: rocks and camels, newly mown grass and freshly ground coffee, sandpaper and velvet, waterfalls and doorbells, sugar and salt. But are we only going to call something ‘real’ if we can detect it directly with one of our five senses? What about a distant galaxy, too far away to be seen with the naked eye? What about a bacterium, too small to be seen without a powerful microscope? Must we say that these do not exist because we can’t see them? No. Obviously we can enhance our senses through the use of special instruments: telescopes for the galaxy, microscopes for bacteria. Because we understand telescopes and microscopes, and how they work, we can use them to extend the reach of our senses – in this case, the sense of sight – and what they enable us to see convinces us that galaxies and bacteria exist. How about radio waves? Do they exist?
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From the Publisher

Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors invoked in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that a goddess swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. Aside from these extraordinary tales, there is another kind of magic that lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.

Packed with dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a wide range of natural phenomena. Having spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers, Richard Dawkins has now teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean to share the magic of science with readers of all ages: What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a stunning, illustrated guide to the secrets of our world—and the universe beyond.

About the Author

Richard Dawkins writes about such topics as DNA and genetic engineering, virtual reality, astronomy, and evolution. Dawkins was educated at Oxford University and taught zoology at the University of California and Oxford University, holding the position of the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. He is a member of the International Academy of Humanism. Dawkins' books include The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, and Climbing Mount Improbable. His newest book, entitled The God Delusion, shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children. Dawkins supports his points with historical and contemporary evidence.

Editorial Reviews

“I am often asked to recommend good books on science for young people. From now on, I will not have to hesitate. The Magic of Reality provides a beautiful, accessible and wide ranging volume that addresses the questions that all of us have about the universe, separating often too-little known facts from too-frequently believed fictions. For this reason it should be a powerful resource for people of all ages, written with the masterful and eloquently literate style of perhaps the best popular expositor of science, Richard Dawkins, and delightfully illustrated by Dave McKean. What more could anyone ask for?”

—Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and the author most recently of Quantum Man, and A Universe from Nothing

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