272 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 0.7 in
September 11, 2012
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1451675046
ISBN - 13: 9781451675047
About the Book
An elegant, text-only paperback edition of the "New York Times" bestseller that's been hailed as the definitive authority on . . . everything. Packed with clever thought experiments and jaw-dropping facts, it explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena.
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? Our eyes can’t detect them, nor can our ears, but again
From the Publisher
Richard Dawkins, bestselling author and the world’s most celebrated evolutionary biologist, has spent his career elucidating the many wonders of science. Here, he takes a broader approach and uses his unrivaled explanatory powers to illuminate the ways in which the world really works. Filled with clever thought experiments and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena: How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? Starting with the magical, mythical explanations for the wonders of nature, Dawkins reveals the exhilarating scientific truths behind these occurrences. This is a page-turning detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.
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.
“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