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All the matter and light we can see in the universe makes up a trivial 5 per cent of everything. The rest is hidden. This could be the biggest puzzle that science has ever faced.
Since the 1970s, astronomers have been aware that galaxies have far too little matter in them to account for the way they spin around: they should fly apart, but something concealed holds them together. That ’something' is dark matter – invisible material in five times the quantity of the familiar stuff of stars and planets.
By the 1990s we also knew that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. Something, named dark energy, is pushing it to expand faster and faster. Across the universe, this requires enough energy that the equivalent mass would be nearly fourteen times greater than all the visible material in existence.
Brian Clegg explains this major conundrum in modern science and looks at how scientists are beginning to find solutions to it.
The ancient Greeks were so horrified by the implications of an endless number that they drowned the man who gave away the secret. And a German mathematician was driven mad by the repercussions of his discovery of transfinite numbers.
Brian Clegg and Oliver Pugh’s brilliant graphic tour of infinity features a cast of characters ranging from Archimedes and Pythagoras to al-Khwarizmi, Fibonacci, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, Cantor, Venn, Gödel and Mandelbrot, and shows how infinity has challenged the finest minds of science and mathematics. Prepare to enter a world of paradox.
Computer technology has improved exponentially over the last 50 years. But the headroom for bigger and better electronic solutions is running out. Our best hope is to engage the power of quantum physics.
‘Quantum algorithms’ had already been written long before hardware was built. These would enable, for example, a quantum computer to exponentially speed up an information search, or to crack the mathematical trick behind internet security. However, making a quantum computer is incredibly difficult. Despite hundreds of laboratories around the world working on them, we are only just seeing them come close to ‘supremacy’ where they can outperform a traditional computer.
In this approachable introduction, Brian Clegg explains algorithms and their quantum counterparts, explores the physical building blocks and quantum weirdness necessary to make a quantum computer, and uncovers the capabilities of the current generation of machines.
The phenomenon that Einstein thought too spooky and strange to be true
What is entanglement? It's a connection between quantum particles, the building blocks of the universe. Once two particles are entangled, a change to one of them is reflected---instantly---in the other, be they in the same lab or light-years apart. So counterintuitive is this phenomenon and its implications that Einstein himself called it "spooky" and thought that it would lead to the downfall of quantum theory. Yet scientists have since discovered that quantum entanglement, the "God Effect," was one of Einstein's few---and perhaps one of his greatest---mistakes.
What does it mean? The possibilities offered by a fuller understanding of the nature of entanglement read like something out of science fiction: communications devices that could span the stars, codes that cannot be broken, computers that dwarf today's machines in speed and power, teleportation, and more.
In The God Effect, veteran science writer Brian Clegg has written an exceptionally readable and fascinating (and equation-free) account of entanglement, its history, and its application. Fans of Brian Greene and Amir Aczel and those interested in the marvelous possibilities coming down the quantum road will find much to marvel, illuminate, and delight.
Until then, investigation of the universe had depended on electromagnetic radiation: visible light, radio, X-rays and the rest. But gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space and time – are unrelenting, passing through barriers that stop light dead.
At the two 4-kilometre long LIGO observatories in the US, scientists developed incredibly sensitive detectors, capable of spotting a movement 100 times smaller than the nucleus of an atom. In 2015 they spotted the ripples produced by two black holes spiralling into each other, setting spacetime quivering.
This was the first time black holes had ever been directly detected – and it promises far more for the future of astronomy. Brian Clegg presents a compelling story of human technical endeavour and a new, powerful path to understand the workings of the universe.
Maxwell, an unassuming Victorian Scotsman, explained how we perceive colour. He uncovered the way gases behave. And, most significantly, he transformed the way physics was undertaken in his explanation of the interaction of electricity and magnetism, revealing the nature of light and laying the groundwork for everything from Einstein’s special relativity to modern electronics.
Along the way, he set up one of the most enduring challenges in physics, one that has taxed the best minds ever since. ‘Maxwell’s demon’ is a tiny but thoroughly disruptive thought experiment that suggests the second law of thermodynamics, the law that governs the flow of time itself, can be broken. This is the story of a groundbreaking scientist, a great contributor to our understanding of the way the world works, and his duplicitous demon.
Enter the invisible world of sub-atomic physics and discover the very core of existence. Cracking Quantum Physics takes you through every area of particle physics to clearly explain how our world was, and is, created, and breaks down the most complex theories into easily understandable elements.
Subjects covered include:
-The Higgs field
-The anatomy of the elements
-Enter the atom
-Accelerators and colliders
-The Zeno effect
An easy-to-understand guide to some of the most complex and intriguing topics: Cracking Quantum Physics is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about the underlying forces and materials that make up the world as we know it.
Is the Brexit vote successful big data politics or the end of democracy? Why do airlines overbook, and why do banks get it wrong so often? How does big data enable Netflix to forecast a hit, CERN to find the Higgs boson and medics to discover if red wine really is good for you? And how are companies using big data to benefit from smart meters, use advertising that spies on you and develop the gig economy, where workers are managed by the whim of an algorithm?
The volumes of data we now access can give unparalleled abilities to make predictions, respond to customer demand and solve problems. But Big Brother’s shadow hovers over it. Though big data can set us free and enhance our lives, it has the potential to create an underclass and a totalitarian state.
With big data ever-present, you can’t afford to ignore it. Acclaimed science writer Brian Clegg - a habitual early adopter of new technology (and the owner of the second-ever copy of Windows in the UK) - brings big data to life.
The popular science equivalent of Who Do You Think You Are?
Popular science master Brian Clegg’s new book is an entertaining tour through the science of what makes you you.
From the atomic level, through life and energy to genetics and personality, it explores how the billions of particles which make up you – your DNA, your skin, your memories – have come to be.
It starts with the present-day reader and follows a number of trails to discover their origins: how the atoms in your body were created and how they got to you in space and time, the sources of things you consume, how the living cells of your body developed, where your massive brain and consciousness originated, how human beings evolved and, ultimately, what your personal genetic history reveals.
It’s a sad truth that math has the reputation of being “difficult.” Part of the problem is that many of us simply don’t speak the language. To a mathematician, an equation is a compact, efficient way to put across a relationship that would be far less comprehensible in words. But to many of us, the merest sign of an x, y, or symbol is an impenetrable mess that our eyes bounce off. This book provides an engaging overview of what math is and what it can do, without having to solve simultaneous equations or prove geometric theorems, far more of us might get the point of it. It is divided into four chapters, each covering a major developmental route in the topic, from Arithmetic & Numbers to Geometry and from Algebra & Calculus to Applied Mathematics.
Their efforts would win the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics, and now the applications of graphene and other ‘two-dimensional’ substances form a worldwide industry.
Graphene is far stronger than steel, a far better conductor than any metal, and able to act as a molecular sieve to purify water. Electronic components made from graphene are a fraction of the size of silicon microchips and can be both flexible and transparent, making it possible to build electronics into clothing, produce solar cells to fit any surface, or even create invisible temporary tattoos that monitor your health.
Ultra-thin materials give us the next big step forward since the transistor revolutionised electronics. Get ready for the graphene revolution.
Acclaimed science writer Brian Clegg builds up reality piece by piece, from space, to time, to matter, movement, the fundamental forces, life, and the massive transformation that life itself has wrought on the natural world. He reveals that underlying it all is not, as we might believe, a system of immovable absolutes, but the ever-shifting, amorphous world of relativity.
From religion to philosophy, humanity has traditionally sought out absolutes to explain the world around us, but as science has developed, relativity has swept away many of these certainties, leaving only a handful of unchangeable essentials – such as absolute zero, nothingness, light – leading to better science and a new understanding of the essence of being human.
This is an Ascent of Man for the 21st century, the gripping story of modern science that will fill you with wonder and give you a new insight into our place in the universe.