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About the book
  • Published: 12 April 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446488140
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304


The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics

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'This book is about my own personal favourite puzzles and conundrums in science' Jim al-Khalili

Jim Al-Khalili is about to untangle the world's greatest science conundrums...

How does the fact that it gets dark at night prove the Universe must have started with a big bang?

Where are all the aliens?

Why does the length of a piece of string vary depending on how fast it is moving?

Our subject is 'perceived paradoxes' - questions or thought-experiments that on first encounter seem impossible to answer, but which science has been able to solve.

Our tour of these mind-expanding puzzles will take us through some of the greatest hits of science - from Einstein's theories about space and time, to the latest ideas of how the quantum world works. Some of our paradoxes may be familiar, such as Schrödinger's famous cat, which is seemingly alive and dead at the same time; or the Grandfather Paradox - if you travelled back in time and killed your grandfather you would not have been born and would not therefore have killed your grandfather. Other paradoxes will be new to you, but no less bizarre and fascinating.

In resolving our paradoxes we will have to travel to the furthest reaches of the Universe and explore the very essence of space and time. Hold on tight.

  • Pub date: 12 April 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446488140
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the Author

Jim Al-Khalili

Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS is a quantum physicist, author and broadcaster based at the University of Surrey where he holds a joint chair in physics and the public engagement in science. He has written ten books, translated into over twenty languages. He is a regular presenter of TV science documentaries and also presents the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific. A recipient of the Royal Society Michael Faraday medal, the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal and the inaugural Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, he is also the current president of the British Science Association. He received an OBE in 2007 for ‘services to science’ and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2018. Sunfall is his first novel. Jim Al-Khalili lives in Hampshire.

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Praise for Paradox

“The wizardry of Jim Al-Khalili is irresistible. Marvel at the mind-bending Zeno’s paradox! The amazing ambiguity of Schrödinger’s Cat! The preposterous postulations of perpetual motion! The extraterrestrial extrapolations of Fermi’s paradox! and other wonders of physics, philosophy, even poetry. “I have had tremendous fun writing this book,” says Professor Jim. Reading it is the best fun you can have beyond a pop-science comic book and a home particle accelerator”

The Times

“A master of making the complex simple”

Independent on Sunday

“Al-Khalili leads into the harder science, but does so with such deceptive ease that before you know it you’re mulling over the expanding universe, staring down quantum theory and pondering Schrödinger’s Cat – and enjoying it”

Financial Times

“Al-Khalili is the ideal guide through these seeming mysteries of modern science”

New Scientist

“[A] field guide to some of the most important and fascinating conundrums in physics”


“Readers who enjoy mental challenges and scientific mysteries will have fun with Al-Khalili's lighthearted, accessible discussion.”

Publisher's Weekly

“intriguing and refreshing... Paradox is a workout for all but the supplest of minds and an entertaining illustration of the power of science to solve the seemingly unsolvable”

Engineering and Technology Magazine

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