How to Build a Universe
The numerous archival images, cartoons, quotes and programme excerpts in this companion book to the BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage pay homage to the 1970s Look and Learn annuals, which thrilled children with their miscellany of science. Here, Cox and Ince inspire adult scientific wonder through jokes, jibes and nostalgic digressions, anchored by serious explorations of thermodynamics, particle physics, big bang theory, space travel, extra-terrestrial life and, of course, infinity.
Who are we, and why are we here? In the beautifully illustrated book of their BBC Two series Professor Cox and his Executive Producer Andrew Cohen tackle some of the biggest questions that humans have asked about the past, present and future of our species. They follow the intellectual journeys that led to discoveries about gravity, relativity and the Big Bang, then track down the earliest evidence for life on Earth and reflect on our quest to learn whether we are truly alone in the cosmos.
World in the Balance
The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement
Every day we need reliable ways of measuring length, weight and time. For most of human history these were based on creatively improvised local standards, such as the ancient Chinese connection between length and musical pitch. This book, by the philosopher who writes a regular Physics World column, tells little-known stories behind the world’s diverse measures and shows how they were gradually consolidated into a universal system, and how scientists are creating the first absolute system based on physical constants.
When the Earth was Flat
All the Bits of Science We Got Wrong
Alchemists in search of gold; palaeontologists in search of a specious ‘missing link’ in the evolutionary chain; troops breaking step on bridges: Graeme Donald delves into the history of these and many other instances of scientific wrong-headedness, tracing the perpetrators and explaining how they got it wrong. He also debunks a plethora of popular beliefs, from opera singers breaking glass to suicidal lemmings.
And Now the Shipping Forecast
A Tide of History Around Our Shores
Never mind that few people could point to Viking on a map or make much sense of ‘Fitzroy: north east five or six', the nightly Shipping Forecast has ‘permeated the British psyche in a most extraordinary way’. Peter Jefferson, who read the Forecast on BBC Radio for over 40 years, enlightens us on all aspects of its genesis and how it gets broadcast, plus related maritime matters including shipping areas past and present, meteorological terms, lighthouses and sailors’ lore.