In The Light Of Science by Demetris Nicolaides (book review).

In many respects, ‘In The Light Of Science’ by Demetris Nicolaides is more a primer in the history of general science than anything else as it hits on a bit of everything and its relevance. As such, I found this book a breeze to read because so much of it is familiar ground. For those of you who are less aware and who really want to get a better grounding in science, then this book is an ideal choice. Nicolaides will smoothly get you to grips across the board without getting you caught up in the mathematics and formulas. After all, much of the time, you want to know what something does than the numbers associated. Even with writing Science Fiction, very little of it is above O’level understanding.


I should point out that its sub-title is ‘Our Ancient Quest For Knowledge And The Measure Of Modern Physics’. Nicolaides cross-matches ancient history and development of ideas right up to modern time. In some things, the ancients occasionally had the right idea but got muddled in what things really were. I mean, they understood matter was made of smaller particles but attributed these to basic elements like fire and water than what we would today.

Was there anything I took issue with or gave added insight? Would I write a review without such knowledge? Nicolaides makes a connection that I’ve raised in other reviews that two of principle forces, the strong and weak nuclear electromagnetic forces are different ends of the same force. There is always the problem of just what is gravity and no one has an answer for that yet. We know it draws matter together, just not why.

I think there is still a bit of confusion about nuclear particles. I mean, without it you would never have anti-matter. However, then you have neutrons which don’t and indeed, I’ve yet to hear anyone claim there is an anti-Higgs particle out there. Does that mean the God particle is also neutral? Nicolaides does a subject on the subject examining its neutrality and uses it to throw insight into other particles being called colour and spin.

He even goes into an easy explanation of time dilation when travelling at near light speeds that should make sense to the novice. He also works some numbers into the Drake Equation, the only formula in the book, which should make you a depressed on the prediction of how many other alien species there are in the stellar neighbourhood.

As you will observe as you read this book, science is all about discovery. Over history, there have been a lot of misdirection and confusion as well but we have a better idea of what makes the cosmos tick now. Although I suspect those with a good understanding of science won’t find this book taxing, those of you who want a decent catch-up course and reference book in getting started will this it a useful volume to own.

GF Willmetts

November 2014

(pub: Prometheus Books. 266 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $19.00 (US), $20.00 (CAN), £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61592-225-3)

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