Thursday, December 29, 2011

What is John Gribbin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: John Gribbin, author of Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique.

His entry begins:
I have recently been reading two books inspired by the quest for a “theory of everything”, while waiting for news from CERN about the discovery of the Higgs particle. The books complement each other beautifully. The Infinity Puzzle, by Frank Close, is an erudite (but readable) history of particle physics in the twentieth century. As I said in a review for Focus magazine, it tells the story of the search for a unified field theory from the Second World War to the Large Hadron Collider, concentrating on the people involved and the sometimes tortuous path that led to what is now known as the Standard Model of physics. Along the way we get the true story (or as near as we are likely to get to the true story) of the “discovery” of quarks, find out why Peter Higgs is so embarrassed that his name is attached to a certain particle, and lays to rest the myth perpetrated by Thomas Kuhn that...[read on]
About Alone in the Universe, from the publisher:
The acclaimed author of In Search of Schrödinger's Cat searches for life on other planets

Are we alone in the universe? Surely amidst the immensity of the cosmos there must be other intelligent life out there. Don't be so sure, says John Gribbin, one of today's best popular science writers. In this fascinating and intriguing new book, Gribbin argues that the very existence of intelligent life anywhere in the cosmos is, from an astrophysicist's point of view, a miracle. So why is there life on Earth and (seemingly) nowhere else? What happened to make this planet special? Taking us back some 600 million years, Gribbin lets you experience the series of unique cosmic events that were responsible for our unique form of life within the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Written by one of our foremost popular science writers, author of the bestselling In Search of Schrödinger's Cat
  • Offers a bold answer to the eternal question, "Are we alone in the universe?"
  • Explores how the impact of a "supercomet" with Venus 600 million years ago created our moon, and along with it, the perfect conditions for life on Earth
From one of our most talented science writers, this book is a daring, fascinating exploration into the dawning of the universe, cosmic collisions and their consequences, and the uniqueness of life on Earth.
Learn more about Alone in the Universe and the author at John Gribbin's website.

The Page 69 Test: John Gribbin's The Fellowship.

The Page 99 Test: Alone in the Universe.

Writers Read: John Gribbin.

--Marshal Zeringue