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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,974 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Brooks Narrator: James Adams Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Science starts to get interesting when things don’t make sense.

Science’s best-kept secret is this: even today, there are experimental results and reliable data that the most brilliant scientists can neither explain nor dismiss. In the past, similar “anomalies” have revolutionized our world, like in the sixteenth century, when a set of celestial anomalies led Copernicus to realize that the earth goes around the sun and not the reverse, and in the 1770s, when two chemists discovered oxygen because of experimental results that defied all the theories of the day. So if history is any precedent, we should look to today’s inexplicable results to forecast the future of science.

In 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, Michael Brooks heads to the scientific frontier to meet thirteen modern-day anomalies and discover tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Why are some NASA satellites speeding up as they get farther from the sun? Why has the placebo effect become a pillar of modern medicine when doctors can’t agree whether it even exists? Is ninety-six percent of the universe missing? Is a 1977 signal from outer space a transmission from an alien civilization? Might giant viruses explain how life began? Taking readers on an entertaining tour d’horizon of the strangest of scientific findings—involving everything from our lack of free will to Martian methane that offers new evidence of life on the planet—Michael Brooks argues that the things we don’t understand are the key to what we are about to discover. Spanning disciplines from biology to cosmology, chemistry to psychology to physics, Brooks thrillingly captures the excitement, messiness, and controversy of the battle over where science is headed. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Fascinating…Brooks expertly works his way through…hotly debated quandaries in a smooth, engaging writing style reminiscent of Carl Sagan or Stephen Jay Gould.”

    Anahad O'Connor, New York Times’ Science Times “Really?” columnist and author of Never Shower in a Thunderstorm

  • “This elegantly written, meticulously researched and thought-provoking book provides a window into how science actually works, and is sure to spur intense debate.”

    New Scientist

  • “A boundless enthusiasm resounds through this homage to the outstanding problems of science.”

    Seed magazine

  • “These examples of the hard work of paradigm shift are truly fascinating. Brooks examines the uncomfortable phase that comes before a radical change in scientific thought.”

    Library Journal

  • “A fascinating and humbling perspective on humanity’s vaunted scientific wisdom. The book’s chapters are arranged with beautiful logic on a continuum of topics that begins with physics and cosmology, proceeds through biology, and ends, more or less, in consciousness studies. Concise historical backstory and vivid portraits of researchers offer a true sense of the great work of science and the still-murky dark corners of its realm.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “Brooks provides cogent character sketches as he introduces the scientists involved in these investigations. He also effectively plays the gadfly, taking potshots at the scientific orthodoxy these phenomena call into question…Great fodder for arguments, written in a lively style.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ernie Dawson | 2/17/2014

    " A pretty good read if you're into the esoteric. He talks about things that you think everyone already knows about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ben Krutko | 2/9/2014

    " Amazing Book. Clear, concise, and intricately detailed without being overwhelming. The author presents the fact that science does not have all the answers with gusto, compared with many science writers who shy away from that fact. However, he maintains the attitude that a lack of answers is not a sign of fallibility and instead a glorious opportunity. Those things which science does not yet know are open windows to a further understanding of our own creation and place in the universe. They are not reasons to surrender or abandon science, but marking of a future trail yet discovered. The bibliography is well-researched and easy to thumb through for further reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bob | 1/30/2014

    " The further into the book I read the more I got into it as it progressed from the cosmological to the physical to the biological. Most intriguing to me were the looks at cold fusion, free will, the placebo effect, and homeopathy. With thirteen areas examined, including life, sex and death, there is probably something here for everyone. Everyone, except those who are unwilling to challenge their assumptions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Aaron Humphrey | 1/22/2014

    " An intriguing look at a number of problematic areas in modern science, which Brooks thinks may be ripe for the next paradigm shift. Is there really dark matter and dark energy out there, or does gravity just have a long-range component which we can't measure? Is there still something to cold fusion that can't be explained away? Why do living beings die? Is there even something to the ludicrous claims of homeopathic medicine? What is behind the placebo effect? Did the Viking lander really find evidence of life on Mars which was then mistakenly dismissed? Brooks tries for an evenhanded view, and from what I can tell, he accomplishes it, even with the beyond controversial inclusion of homeopathy. "

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