This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works

Edited by John Brockman. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper, (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-223017-1
In this latest volume of erudition from founder John Brockman (This Will Make You Smarter), the question "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" serves as the prompt for over a hundred concise essays. The topics cover the gamut of the sciences while also including answers from other realms including economics and the arts. Darwin and Einstein, while not the precise subject of many answers, feature prominently as do ideas of human consciousness and cognition. As with other collections of this ilk, the essays widely vary in ease of comprehension and level of profundity. While there is no structure beyond the individual essays, occasionally a few essays in close proximity will touch on similar matters, as when Nicholas Christakis's essay on why the sky is blue is followed by Philip Campbell's on "The Beauty in a Sunrise", each referencing the work of Lord Rayleigh on the scattering of light. A few entries border on gimmicks, such as Ernst Pöppel's series of haiku on trust or Katinka Matson's single sentence on "Occam's Razor": "Keep it simple." Still, this collection will satisfy anyone who is looking to stretch his thinking. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-223018-8
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