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Complete Guide To Absolutely Everything (Abridged) by Dr. Adam Rutherford & Dr. Hannah Fry (book review).

October 7, 2021 | By | Reply More

You do have to wonder how much the book ‘Complete Guide To Absolutely Everything (Abridged)’ is actually abridged and appears not to identify scientific laws. When the examples of size-changing is looked at, they should have identified the Square-Cube Law where the larger the creature, the cross-section also increases in size and making it harder to move, unless there is buoyancy as with the blue whale.

Likewise, I might question bringing a 3000 year-old man or woman to the present and dress and groom them for today and not spot them. If memory serves, they wouldn’t have been as tall as we are today and with a 40 year life-span, differently aged. As with all non-fiction books, if you aren’t prepared to challenge the authors then you aren’t thinking as you are reading.

I do agree with their comments that science has been wrong a lot of the time in the past, especially where alchemy is concerned, but that is largely from lack of knowledge and creating gold probably down to greed. I do think it might have been a better testimony to point out how much dogma the new scientists had to fight to establish their theories and, more importantly, their evidence to the old guard. It was hardly an easy change.

Obviously, some elements are going to venture into our ground and their look at extra-terrestrials are principally the Greys, xenomorphs, predator hunters and acknowledging E.T. With our films and TV shows, it’s a lot cheaper to have them humanoid for humans to play them but we have had non-humanoid species. I can call upon the Krell from ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956), the eye creatures from ‘It Came From Outer Space’ (1953), ‘The Blob’ (1958) and the Vorlons and Shadows from ‘Babylon 5’ off the top of my head, not to mention numerous energy beings. Granted humanoid aliens have dominated, but others do crop up and there are far more in written Science Fiction.

Their point about Ant-Man not being able to breath at that size is an interesting point about how much air he could take in. However, considering how little we know about the Pym Particles and when the body mass goes, one would surmise said particles are active for the duration of the size change and conceivably does the same thing to oxygen molecules to keep him going. Scientifically, you would have to work out from he’s doing it so how.

One constant that I didn’t know is all species tend to empty their bladders in 21 seconds. I think I went longer when prior to becoming diabetic.

It’s hardly surprising that a couple chapters are devoted to telling the time. This is a subject that I’ve covered myself but the authors here go even more extensively across the cosmos, proving how we keep track is relative. Looking at their information, I do have to wonder how precise we can be for the exact life of the universe when things are measured in billions of years, you are never going to go down to day 1 and say something started on a Monday.

You do have to wonder if the reason why the oven clock doesn’t keep time is because the kitchen is in its own time warp or simply because the manufacturers don’t think to make it light or battery-powered or make it more sophisticated. If you think time can go by in slow-mo, then you might well be suffering from tachypsychia which can be very happy for fast thinking when you need it to happen. No wonder your life can pass by your eyes in a fall.

The examination of free will will literally make you think and how much you are driven by other things. I wish they had explored how the conscious mind and the unconscious mind work together and how much listen to that inner voice to do the right thing. The discussion on the slit experiment and how a photon can be both a particle and wave at the same time is still one of science’s mysteries. Objectively, I tend to think we are seeing a quantum phenomenon at a larger scale.

I tend to go along with them when it comes to sects who think the world is supposed to end on a particular date and how they rationalise when it doesn’t. I do think there should be more discussion on how such people can rope in other people on such beliefs. Are we seeing a demonstration of stronger personalities or a change in rationality or both? Certainly we need to improve education so people can make sensible decisions.

I’m definitely less sure of so-called psychics who are really just reading body language and applied psychology and saying things that can apply to most people. Whether that’s true of other psionic or ESP talent still needs investigating.

The penultimate chapters look at the extremes of love, especially between owners and pets and then how we recognise emotions. As with the previous chapter pointing out how gullible we can be to being conned. The same can also be applied to expressing emotions with actors being the prime example of this. Drawing my own conclusions from this, I do wonder if the behaviour is shown as expressively with other members of mankind. We know some other primates are capable of lying but generally that is to you than between themselves.

The final chapter looks at how we perceive the world. When it came to the range of colours we see, I was reminded of a test of colours that was run on the Internet a couple years back. I scored rather high, not surprisingly as I paint, so I nudged astroartist Dave Hardy to take the same test and he had a near identical score to myself. My conclusions were that one of the reasons not everyone has an artistic bent or lose it after childhood is down to how vivid we see the world around us. From inside our own eyeballs, we really don’t have anything to compare it to without testing just how many colours we see. This isn’t to say that you can’t have any artistic talent without this ability as, after all, there are some capable artists who are actually colour blind but it does show what is at the other end of the spectrum (sic).

Their final word is that science is the way to see everything. Don’t expect to get knowledge of everything in this book but the areas they cover do look at things that do affect your life and if you come away with learning a lot about that then this book has achieved something.

GF Willmetts

October 2021

(pub: Bantam Press/Penguin, 2021. 295 page illustrated indexed hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78763-263-9)

check out website: www.penguin.co.uk

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Category: Books, Science

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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