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[Read] ➵ The science of Discworld By Terry Pratchett –

First book I DNF d after 30% I wanted a good fiction and what we got was a class on the creation of the universe Eh, so disappointed. The Science of Discworld is an odd sort of Discworld book Based on the name, I had thought it was going to delve into detail about the fictional workings of the Discworld Like, say, how the giant turtle and the elephants stay alive outside of an atmosphere or how water on the Discworld gets replenished when it keeps falling off the disc If that last sentence makes it sound like I ve gone off the deep end, then you clearly haven t tried reading Discworld.The science in this book is actually about the real science of our own world, with a very thin Discworld story interspersed between the science bits The Discworld part of the story takes place in the Unseen University, where the wizards end up creating a simulation of the birth of a universe remarkably like ours, followed by many million years worth of evolution on roundworld , a planet that is also remarkably like ours Each short Discworld based chapter is then followed up with a science chapter discussing topics related to what s going on in the Discworld story.For the first 25% of this book, I wasn t sure I was going to make it through to the end The science parts were boring me to tears because they mostly covered either terribly basic concepts or entirely theoretical topics that I wasn t very interested in reading about As it went on, it got interesting, although there were still scattered bits of boredom here and there If this had been a book about computer science, I probably would have enjoyed the theoretical parts equally as well as the practical parts Actually, even though it wasn t at all the focus of the story, computer science did get a few mentions here and there, and I particularly enjoyed those parts When it comes to the natural sciences, however, my interest isn t strong enough to sustain me through theory I enjoyed it when the authors discussed what we do know and why we think we know it, whereas the various speculations about things we have no way of knowing for sure were frustrating to me than interesting.The Discworld part of the story was very short, but amusing It served as a nice way to break up the science bits and provide some humor However, the story had a major logical flaw that annoyed me to no end view spoiler It s supposed to be physically impossible for anybody to get into the Roundworld experiment, but Hex is able to use suits to let people enter Roundworld virtually Rincewind is the first person made to try this, and the luggage shows up physically in Roundworld, supposedly following Rincewind there But Rincewind s actual, physical body is still in Unseen University There s no logical reason that the luggage should have ended up inside the experiment It was only done as cheap story trick to allow the wizards to get materials to and from Roundworld by having them transported via the luggage hide spoiler When A Wizardly Experiment Goes Adrift, The Wizards Of Unseen University Find Themselves With A Pocket Universe On Their Hands Roundworld, Where Neither Magic Nor Common Sense Seems To Stand A Chance Against Logic The Universe, Of Course, Is Our Own And Roundworld Is Earth As The Wizards Watch Their Accidental Creation Grow, We Follow The Story Of Our Universe From The Primal Singularity Of The Big Bang To The Internet And Beyond Through This Original Terry Pratchett Story With Intervening Chapters From Cohen And Stewart We Discover How Puny And Insignificant Individual Lives Are Against A Cosmic Backdrop Of Creation And Disaster Yet, Paradoxically, We See How The Richness Of A Universe Based On Rules, Has Led To A Complex World And At Least One Species That Tried To Get A Grip Of What Was Going On Back in the late 90s, there was a whole slew of Science Of books The science of Star Trek, X Files, Star Wars, all of them did their best to explain the fantastic in terms of what we already knew about science They weren t trying to disprove these worlds saying that warp speed is impossible, for example, or how The Force violates any number of natural laws but rather they tried to figure out how we could explain these things, and perhaps, someday, make them real.This isn t that sort of book.The Discworld, as the writers say straight out, runs on stories, on some mysterious element that we might call Narrativium Things happen a certain way because that s how they re supposed to happen The eighth son of an eighth son HAS to become a wizard, even if he turns out to be a daughter And a million to one shot HAS to come off, because the Story demands it.In this story, the wizards at the Unseen University at Ankh Morpork have a little problem Their thaumic reactor, built in the middle of the squash court, is pumping out dangerous levels of magic enough to turn most of the Ankh Morpork plains into the playground of horrible betentacled Things from the Dungeon Dimension So, in order to siphon off the massive amounts of magic being generated from splitting the thaum, they channel the extra energy into the Roundworld Project Essentially they create a universe where magic and Narrativium do not exist It s a place that works on its own laws but, unlike the Discworld, it does not work towards any particular end.Our universe, as it turns out.The wizards watch our world form, try to figure out the rules, and watch it progress They see life emerge, make its best effort towards intelligence, and then get wiped out Over and over.The wizards give us an interesting perspective the creation of the universe and the evolution of intelligent life collapsed down to about a week They re able to use a kind of magical VR to watch things in real time, but still, they have a wide view of Earth history that allows commentary on the other part of the book.Interleaved with the Discworld story about the Project, Stewart and Cohen talk about the science that the wizards are watching Where the stars came from, how the moon got formed, what primeval Earth might have looked like, how life arose and, most importantly, how it managed to stick around for so long.Viewed on a long scale, the Earth is not really a very hospitable place Giant rocks and snowballs falling from the sky every few million years, ice ages and volcanic catastrophes, disasters of nearly every imaginable magnitude Species rising, flourishing and vanishing without so much as a ripple in the fossil record Nice, pleasant weather, like we have now, is relatively rare.As Rincewind says, This world is an anvil Everything here is between a rock and a hard place Every single thing on it is the descendant of creatures that have survived everything the world could throw at them I just hope they never get angry Pratchett is a fantastic writer, as we all know, and somehow Stewart and Cohen manage to keep up with him The chapters on hard science are just as interesting and entertaining as those with the wizards They illuminate the concepts that the wizards don t understand There are no turtles anywhere and set you up for what will come next It s a rare book that can educate and entertain with consistency, and this book achieves it.Next up will be the followup books Let s see how they hold up. My girlfriend tried to buy this book for me while we were browsing a second hand bookshop I said No thanks and I said it firmly because I really don t like those series tie in books that people write which might have the original authors name on the cover but are actually written by second rate hacks hired by the publisher to milk the last drop of cash from the cow.Luckily my girlfriend ignored me completely and bought it anyway because this is not one of those books.This book doesn t try and give a scientific explanation for how a discworld could exist supported on the backs of four elephants or how discworld light can move slowly enough for you to watch it wash over the landscape Instead it describes our universe, the solar system, earth and the life on it through the eyes of people living on the discworld It does it darned well too. Imagine sitting down to read a book from your favorite author At the end of the first chapter your friend takes away the book and replaces it with a transcript of the show Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson You like Cosmos and Mr Tyson is interesting so you read it At the first break, your friend takes away Cosmos and replaces it with the book by your favorite author that you had started reading Now imagine doing this 45 times and you have the idea behind The Science of Discworld.The Terry Pratchett book is The Lost Continent I believe and it gets interrupted at odd places because Mr Pratchett doesn t do chapters The science is presented in an interesting way by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen but a lot of the chapters drag on especially when the Pratchett chapters fly by They ve made the effort to find relevant parts of the Pratchett book to match up with relevant parts to the science that they want to discuss but sometimes its a stretch.The book was okay, not sure I would recommended it and I certainly don t want to read the next two books in the series Recommended for people who have had the following thoughts I ve heard a lot about this Discworld business, but I wish it had, like, science, you know I love Discworld, but I wish there was a book that was even of the wizards of Unseen University being dicks to each other I love popular science nonfiction, but what if I could read a fantasy novel at the same time The wizards of Unseen University and Rincewind have accidentally created a pocket universe, and in that universe is a world which, against all narrative good sense, appears to be round and not carried on the back of a turtle at all It runs on some simple rules and a bit of bloody minded stubbornness Every time our wizardly friends poke it with a stick, the authors jump in to explain the science of what happens, from the Big Bang to the evolution of humanity It s a brisk survey of the sciences, returning to the wizards every other chapter for some stick poking.The science bits draw heavily on a conceit they call lies to children, by which they mean the oversimplifications you use in teaching to introduce difficult concepts Things like the planetary model of the atom completely wrong, but pedagogically useful Lies to children aren t bad they re necessary But once you ve grasped the basics, the lie to children can be swept away and replaced with the facts Except they aren t, always, which is where the authors of the book figure they come in.I did notice some inaccuracies, especially in the paleontology bits, although I can t entirely decide whether to chalk them up to the book being published 14 years ago, or actually being wrong And in the molecular biology bits my actual area of expertise there were some lies to children that never actually got corrected But in fairness, the book s already 400 pages long They didn t have time.In spite of all that I enthusiastically recommend this book It s fun You don t get someone like Terry Pratchett every century, but the science chapters are almost as cheeky and entertaining as the fiction bits Rating there s 3 books in the series and my birthday is in October please and thank. Don t expect your typical lighthearted novel as you d normally get from Terry Pratchett Instead, you will find a hilarious, whimsical look at the deep scientific theories and explanations of how scientists believe our universe and world works If you ve avoided topics like gravitational forces, quantum theory or evolution, then this is the book for you Seriously.The magic of this book is how the authors take the unreality of Discworld and use it to show the reader how our universe and world work The wizards of Unseen University take us on a time traveling journey as they peer into our universe beginning at its inception and then periodically along the way until they glimpse us and then our possible future The beauty of this framework is how complex theories and scientific discoveries are broken down into manageable pieces of information.The authors dismiss the idea of God or gods in favor of evolutionary theory dropping in subtle remarks and even a few not so subtle quips While they admit to science being a huge amount of guessing and not knowing, they refuse to admit the possibility of a Creator.The content is such that young readers would really be lost and even many teens would find this hard to understand The only curse word doesn t even count in my book because it really was used in context Sex comes up quite often, but only as it relates as a motivational factor for animals I d say this book is really suited to older teens and adults, regardless if they are familiar with Terry Pratchett s works or not. Unfortunately the Science in this book was too basic for me, but I must applaud the authors for their approach through Discworld Now, what kept me reading was the story of the wizards I must point out that it was difficult not to cheat and skip over all the science chapters But I would have enjoyed this book even if I was younger. Real review to follow Once upon a time, there was Discworld There still is an adequate supply Discworld is the flat world, carried through space on the back of a giant turtle, which has been the source of, so far, twenty three novels, four maps, an encyclopaedia, two animated series, t shirts, scarves, models, badges, beer, embroidery, pens, posters, and probably, by the time this is published, talcum powder and body splash if not, it can only be a matter of time. Two of my favorite things combined science and Discworld There is just NO WAY this book can disappoint me Not possible I am excited like I don t know, insert your own favorite metaphor here Yi peee