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Quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world
Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.
Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics—quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics—showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full understanding of reality. Using wonderful examples and thought-provoking analogies, Al-Khalili illuminates the physics of the extreme cosmic and quantum scales, the speculative frontiers of the field, and the physics that underpins our everyday experiences and technologies, bringing the reader up to speed with the biggest ideas in physics in just a few sittings. Physics is revealed as an intrepid human quest for ever more foundational principles that accurately explain the natural world we see around us, an undertaking guided by core values such as honesty and doubt. The knowledge discovered by physics both empowers and humbles us, and still, physics continues to delve valiantly into the unknown.
Making even the most enigmatic scientific ideas accessible and captivating, this deeply insightful book illuminates why physics matters to everyone and calls one and all to share in the profound adventure of seeking truth in the world around us.
Thought the science of the future was all hoverboards and space travel? Think again.
Every day, scientists come up with the ingenious solutions and surprising discoveries that will define our future. So here, Jim Al-Khalili and his crack team of experts bin the crystal ball and use cutting-edge science to get a glimpse of what's in store.
From whether teleportation is really possible (spoiler: it is), to what we'll do if artificial intelligence takes over, What's Next? takes on the big questions. And along the way, it'll answer questions like: Will we find a cure to all diseases? An answer to climate change? Will bionics make us into superheroes?
Touching on everything from genetics to transport, and nanotechnology to teleportation, What's Next? is a fascinating, fun and informative look at what's in store for the human race.
Jim Al-Khalili is about to untangle the world's greatest science conundrums...
How does the fact that it gets dark at night prove the Universe must have started with a big bang?
Where are all the aliens?
Why does the length of a piece of string vary depending on how fast it is moving?
Our subject is 'perceived paradoxes' - questions or thought-experiments that on first encounter seem impossible to answer, but which science has been able to solve.
Our tour of these mind-expanding puzzles will take us through some of the greatest hits of science - from Einstein's theories about space and time, to the latest ideas of how the quantum world works. Some of our paradoxes may be familiar, such as Schrödinger's famous cat, which is seemingly alive and dead at the same time; or the Grandfather Paradox - if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather you would not have been born and would not therefore have killed your grandfather. Other paradoxes will be new to you, but no less bizarre and fascinating.
In resolving our paradoxes we will have to travel to the furthest reaches of the Universe and explore the very essence of space and time. Hold on tight.
From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world.
Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half-alive and half-dead at the same time?
Our journey into the quantum begins with nature's own conjuring trick, in which we discover that atoms -- contrary to the rules of everyday experience -- can exist in two locations at once. To understand this we travel back to the dawn of the twentieth century and witness the birth of quantum theory, which over the next one hundred years was to overthrow so many of our deeply held notions about the nature of our universe. Scientists and philosophers have been left grappling with its implications every since.
For over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic. In Pathfinders, Jim al-Khalili celebrates the forgotten pioneers who helped shape our understanding of the world.
All scientists have stood on the shoulders of giants. But most historical accounts today suggest that the achievements of the ancient Greeks were not matched until the European Renaissance in the 16th century, a 1,000-year period dismissed as the Dark Ages. In the ninth-century, however, the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad, Abu Ja'far Abdullah al-Ma'mun, created the greatest centre of learning the world had ever seen, known as Bayt al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom. The scientists and philosophers he brought together sparked a period of extraordinary discovery, in every field imaginable, launching a golden age of Arabic science.
Few of these scientists, however, are now known in the western world. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, a polymath who outshines everyone in history except Leonardo da Vinci? The Syrian astronomer Ibn al-Shatir, whose manuscripts would inspire Copernicus's heliocentric model of the solar system? Or the 13th-century Andalucian physician Ibn al-Nafees, who correctly described blood circulation 400 years before William Harvey? Iraqi Ibn al-Haytham who practised the modern scientific method 700 years before Bacon and Descartes, and founded the field of modern optics before Newton? Or even ninth-century zoologist al-Jahith, who developed a theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin?
The West needs to see the Islamic world through new eyes and the Islamic world, in turn, to take pride in its extraordinarily rich heritage. Anyone who reads this book will understand why.
Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how does it work? Even in this age of cloning and synthetic biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we missing a vital ingredient in its creation?
Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on evolution, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of life's dynamics as Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal the hitherto missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics. Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, they show how photosynthesis relies on subatomic particles existing in many places at once, while inside enzymes, those workhorses of life that make every molecule within our cells, particles vanish from one point in space and instantly materialize in another.
Each chapter in Life on the Edge opens with an engaging example that illustrates one of life’s puzzles – How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes manage to copy themselves with such precision? – and then reveals how quantum mechanics delivers its answer. Guiding the reader through the maze of rapidly unfolding discovery, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate vividly the excitement of this explosive new field of quantum biology, with its potentially revolutionary applications, and also offer insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life?
'Excellent, exactly how good science fiction should be: gripping story, beautifully told, while at the same time being scientifically well-informed.' tweeted RICHARD DAWKINS.
'Reminiscent of vintage Arthur C. Clarke . . . has a chilling, nail-biting authenticity' said JAMES LOVEGROVE in the Financial Times.
From renowned theoretical physicist, broadcaster and author Jim Al-Khalili, comes this thrilling debut novel drawing on cutting-edge science and set in a near-future full of dazzling technologies.
2041 and the world as we know it grinds to a halt. Our planet seems to be turning against itself - it would appear that the magnetic field, that protects life on Earth from deadly radiation from space, is failing . . .
Desperate to quell the mass hysteria that would surely follow, world governments have concealed this rapidly emerging Armageddon. But a young Iranian hacktivist stumbles across the truth, and it becomes a race against time to reactivate the earth's core using beams of dark matter.
As a small team of brave and brilliant scientists battle to find a way of transforming theory into practice, they face a fanatical group intent on pursuing their own endgame agenda: for they believe mankind to be a plague upon this earth and will do anything, commit any crime, to ensure that the project fails . . .
And so bring about humanity's end.
Do Aliens Exist?
And if they do - what would they look like? Where would they live? Would they be conscious beings? And what would happen if they found us?
These are the biggest questions we've ever asked - and here, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and host of BBC Radio Four's The Life Scientific, blasts off in search of answers. Coming with him are Martin Rees, Ian Stewart, Louisa Preston, Monica Grady, Sara Seager, Paul Davies and a crack team of scientists and experts who've made it their life's work to discover the truth.
So get ready to visit the ice boulders and hydrocarbon lakes of Saturn's moon Titan, meet the tiny eight-legged critters that could survive in space, and learn about the neuroscience behind belief in alien abductions. Along the way, you'll enter the mind of an octopus, work out the probability of us finding an alien civilisation and discover whether quantum computing might hold the secret to life itself.
Lively, curious and filled with scientific insights fresh from the cutting edge of the Galaxy, Aliens is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up into the starry sky and wondered: are we alone?
What is quantum mechanics? Learn from the experts in the ALL-NEW LADYBIRD EXPERT SERIES
A clear, simple and entertaining introduction to the weird, mind-bending world of the very, very small.
Written by physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Quantum Mechanics explores all the key players, breakthroughs, controversies and unanswered questions of the quantum world.
- How the sun shines
- Why light is both a wave and a particle
- The certainty of the Uncertainty Principle
- Schrodinger's Cat
- Einstein's spooky action
- How to build a quantum computer
- Why quantum mechanics drives even its experts completely crazy
'Jim Al-Khalili has done an admirable job of condensing the ideas of quantum physics from Max Planck to the possibilities of quantum computers into brisk, straightforward English' THE TIMES
Learn about other topics in the Ladybird Experts series including The Big Bang, Gravity, Climate Change and Evolution.
Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.
For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.
How does gravity work? Learn from the experts in the ALL-NEW LADYBIRD EXPERT SERIES
Discover the vast and momentus effects of this profound force on the world around us, written by celebrated physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili.
Inside you will learn:
- What is Gravity?
- How does it work?
- And why are there extreme gravitational environments?
Above all, discover how gravity controls the shape of space and the passage of time itself, influencing the history and destiny of the entire Universe.
IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN 'WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN.'
Gravity is a fascinating and authoritative introduction to a phenomenon as familiar to us as breathing.
Learn about other topics in the Ladybird Experts series including The Big Bang, Quantum Physics, Climate Change and Evolution.
Every day, scientists conduct pioneering experiments with the potential to transform how we live. Yet it isn’t every day you hear from the scientists themselves! Now, award–winning author Jim Al–Khalili and his team of top-notch experts explain how today’s earthshaking discoveries will shape our world tomorrow—and beyond.
Pull back the curtain on:
- the “Internet of Things”
- synthetic biology
- interstellar travel
- colonization of the solar system
- and much more
And find insight into big–picture questions such as:
Will we find a cure to all diseases? The answer to climate change? And will bionics one day turn us into superheroes?
The scientists in these pages are interested only in the truth—reality-based and speculation-free. The future they conjure is by turns tantalizing and sobering: There’s plenty to look forward to, but also plenty to dread. And undoubtedly the best way to for us to face tomorrow’s greatest challenges is to learn what the future looks like—today.
Praise for What the Future Looks Like
“A collection of mind-boggling essays that are just the thing for firing up your brain cells.” —Saga Magazine
“The predictions and impacts are global . . . [and] the book contains far more fascinating information than can be covered in this review.” —Choice
“This book is filled with essays from experts offering their informed opinions on what the science and technology of today will look like in the future, from smart materials to artificial intelligence to genetic editing.” —Popular Science
“Fun is an understatement. This is a great collection to get the summer book season started.” —Forbes.com
“The focus on sincere, factual presentation of current and future possibilities by leading experts is particularly welcome in this era of fake news and anti-science rhetoric.” —Library Journal
Halo nuclei are an exotic form of atomic nuclei that contain typically many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. To give you a famous example, an atom of the element lithium has three electrons orbiting a nucleus with three protons and, usually, either 3 or 4 neutrons. The difference in the number of neutrons gives us two different isotopes of lithium, Li6 and Li7. But if you keep adding neutrons to the nucleus you will eventually reach Li11, with still 3 protons (that means it’s lithium) but with 8 neutrons. This nucleus is so neutron-rich that the last two are very weakly bound to the rest of the nucleus (a Li9 core). What happens is a quantum mechanical effect: the two outer neutrons float around beyond the rest of the nuclear core at a distance that is beyond the range of the force that is holding them to the core. This is utterly counterintuitive. It means the nucleus looks like a core plus extended diffuse cloud of neutron probability: the halo.
The author of the book, Jim Al-Khalili, is a theoretician who published some of the key papers on the structure of the halo in the mid and late 90s and was the first to determine its true size. This monograph is based on review articles he has written on the mathematical models used to determine the halo structure and the reactions used to model that structure.