Science fiction and fantasy
by Randall Munroe
The section about moving fast has fascinating information about light speed travel and the way time compresses and the universe expands. It talks about how long you'd need to travel at light speed, or near light speed, before you'd witness the heat death of the universe. Nearly every science fiction space show omits this detail of superfast travel.
A section on book disposal segues into nuclear waste disposal in ocean trenches or in the sun. The part on "How To Catch A Drone" turns into a discussion of the best sportsperson to take one down. Munroe's mind is all over the place, and his enthusiasm is boundless. It's a bit like a five year old is asking the questions, if that kid had a PhD.
The experiments within are impractical, to say the least. However, the mental images they convey, along with Randall's stick figure illustrations, mean that the concepts are simply explained and are more likely to stay with you than something delivered in a drier style. So How To is educational. It's also hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud at intervals throughout. So although the subject matter is somewhat advanced science and maths, it's explained in such a light and accessible way, with diagrams where needed, that a non-specialist audience should easily understand it.
8th October 2021
If you like this, try:Weapons Of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil
Big Data has infiltrated many aspects of our daily lives. But the algorithms that determine our schooling, jobs, insurance, finances, and more may not be as fair or useful as we believe.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy