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

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Overview

In This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world's best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared ...

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This Explains Everything: 150 Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works

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Overview

In This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world's best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more, everything is explained in fun, uncomplicated terms that make the most complex concepts easy to comprehend.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Offers a rare chance to discover big ideas before they hit the mainstream." New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
In this latest volume of erudition from Edge.com 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.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Brain Pickings
“Characteristically thought-provoking and reliably cross-disciplinary, This Explains Everything is a must-read in its entirety.”
New York Times Book Review
“Offers a rare chance to discover big ideas before they hit the mainstream.”
FAREED ZAKARIA
“A collection that reads like the best TED talks ever. It’s an absolute pleasure to read.”
Pop Matters
“Rich in mental fodder. ... An indispensable way to sample thinking from many corners of the intellectual spectrum.”
The Canberra Times
“The most stimulating English-language reading to be had from anywhere in the world.”
New York Journal of Books
“Delivers an intellectual mélange you can dip into and savor. ... The reader gets something new at each turn of the page.”
New Scientist
“A collection of essays by big thinkers answering big questions [should be] deeply satisfying. And This Explains Everything delivers.”
Library Journal
This fun and inspirational collection of brief essays started with a question posed to the readers of Edge.org, founded by Brockman (This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts To Improve Your Thinking): What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation? The result is 150 brief essays that present wonderful explanations of the world around us. The authors include Richard Dawkins, Eric Kandel, Alan Alda, and Brian Eno; all have something worthwhile to contribute. VERDICT This engaging collection can be read from cover to cover or browsed as interest dictates, but all inquisitive readers will enjoy it. Highly recommended for its content, though buyers should be aware that the contents are available for free on Edge.org.—Eric D. Albright, Tufts Univ. Lib., Boston
Library Journal - Audio
04/15/2014
Experts in a variety of disciplines were asked for explanations for everyday happenings, and the result is this collection of 150 brief answers to questions such as why the sky is blue or why humans recognize patterns. Read by seasoned narrators Peter Berkrot, Michelle Ford, Antony Ferguson, and Ann Marie Lee, the volume is a bit uneven from one explanation to the next, but there is definitely something for everyone here. Admittedly, some questions and answers are complex and difficult to grasp, while others will give listeners an "I knew that" satisfaction. VERDICT Listeners will want to play this one more than once. ["This engaging collection can be read from cover to cover or browsed as interest dictates, but all inquisitive readers will enjoy it," read the review of the Harper Perennial hc, LJ 2/1/13.]—Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA
Kirkus Reviews
From a broad array of thinkers come answers to the question: "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" Every year, Brockman, a literary agent who presides over the online salon Edge, poses a challenging question to the diverse community of Edge contributors. The question posed in 2012, which asked responders to identify some simple, nonobvious idea that explains a complex set of phenomena, was suggested by Steven Pinker. The replies come from such familiar names as Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Matt Ridley and Eric Kandel; a few surprising ones, such as Brian Eno and Alan Alda; and many who are lesser known or unknown to the public but are established and influential in their fields. What remains unclear is why these particular answers were selected for publication. All answers are brief, most just two or three pages. Some of the respondents' choices seem obvious--Darwin on the theory of evolution by natural selection and Freud on the unconscious--while others--the double-helix structure of DNA, the germ theory of disease, the Gaia hypothesis of planet Earth, the law of unintended consequences--will also already be familiar to many readers. Perhaps most surprising is neuroscientist Ernst Pöppel's contribution: 20 linked haikus ("What is my problem? / I don't need explanations! / I'm happy without!"). Not all are as entertaining, however, and general readers may struggle with the vocabulary of special fields--e.g., "Metarepresentations Explain Human Uniqueness" or "Hormesis Is Redundancy." The sheer number of contributors and the broad scope of the book ensure that most readers will find topics to pique their interest, but that same feature means that many will find themselves flipping pages quickly. Other notable contributors include Sean Carroll, George Dyson, Clay Shirky, Stewart Brand, A.C. Grayling and Katinka Matson. A smorgasbord of ideas, best when judiciously sampled.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452669144
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/5/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The founder and publisher of the influential online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of This Will Make You Smarter, What We Believe but Cannot Prove, What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, and other volumes. He is also the CEO of the literary agency Brockman, Inc. John lives in New York City.

Michelle Ford is a native Brit and professional voice actor with a proven track record in long narration. She has over twenty titles in published audiobooks to her credit covering contemporary fiction, historical romance, mythical/paranormal fiction, biographies, children's stories, short stories, science fiction, and business.

A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot held feature roles in Caddyshack and Showtime's Brotherhood. He has recorded over 170 audiobooks, over 100 for children; has been nominated for an Audie Award; and has received a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards and starred reviews.

AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson, a native of London, England, is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit.

Ann Marie Lee has worked extensively as an actress in the theater, as well as in guest and recurring roles in television and film. She has recorded numerous audiobooks and has received several AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 41 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Love the simplicity!

    For the average intelligence reader,like me, it's nice to be able to finally understand complex things I had been wonderong about and some I didn't !

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 11, 2013

    For Evolutionists Only

    If you're not into evolution, this book will have little value to you. It's a great idea and well researched as far as tapping into a variety of "experts" and celebrities, but it is definitely weighted in the direction of evolution. Somewhere along the line, science seems to have been forgotten: Science, the search for true knowledge. True knowledge is attained by 1.) observation, 2.) postulation and 3.) prediction and duplication. Evolution has come through the first two steps but never the third.

    Most entries in this collection of explanations are based on the theory of evolution as if it were fact. Sorry, until a simple one-celled form of life can be duplicated or predicted to come into existence, I'll wait for explanations that are based on facts. Nice verbiage though. I certainly don't intend to disparage the intelligence of any of these contributors. Eloquently expressed, just no meat.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    So so

    Too broad and too deep.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Ravensky

    "May i join?" She askes the leader of the clan

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    To all

    Featherdream is locked out. #afriend

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    Wildfire

    Slowly pads into camp and stops when he hears the noise he russes over to help kill the rabbid monkey.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    The twins

    Pad off

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Lightningspirir

    ((I know how you guys feel. Practically my whole school hates me. Gtgtb))

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2013

    Thistlefang to falvon

    I posted in pur trainng poafe

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Leopardface

    A she cats walks in "Can i join? Im looking for a mate."

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Silvermysgic

    Waht times it?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Clockpaw

    "On the other hand, ignoring me completely signals not only that you wish I didn't join, but that you do not care about any other cats. Goodbye." He left.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    Lionrage

    Lionrage curled up in the sun

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Forgottonfog

    Watched scarletfeather

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    Tigerblossom

    My parents think im going nuts....

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Nightkit

    He limped in and asked if anyone remembered him

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    Slurpykit

    *nips on muffin* hey whats going on

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    The lonely kit

    Will die without help
    (HONESTLY GIVE ME SOME ATTENTION!!!)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    TO ALL

    Post your greatest bio t chosen for a chance to win famous cat of the week! Cat winners will be announced to each clan! Thx!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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