Seriously Curious: The Facts and Figures that Turn Our World Upside Down by Tom StandageAn interesting collection of recent short explainers originally published by The Economist to provide quick facts, figures and explanations on some aspects of the world, some of which may appear contradictory.
The book is divided into several sections, each of which contains explainers for some of the questions raised. The sections range from the very generic questions about the world to more specialised topics like food, economics (of course), science, technology, sports, words and holidays.
I have read quite a number of the explainers when they were originally published by The Economist, so much of the material in the book is already familiar to me. Even so, there are some explainers that I missed that explain some aspects of the world in a new light.
All the explainers are brief, at most only a few pages, with some occasional graphs. But they fulfil the aim of the book, which is to explain some interesting and unusual aspects of why some things in the world are the way they are now.
10 Questions Science Still Can’t Answer
10 Curious Questions and Answers
A few years ago I was taking a tour of a dome shaped house, and the architect explained to me that domes are an optical illusion. He went on to explain that since domes have no corners, that from the inside they appear larger than what they really are, and from the outside, they appear smaller than the space of another house with a comparable footprint. And it all starts with one simple question. Even before the time of Copernicus, scientists like Philolaus and Aristarchus of Samos had proposed something other than an earth-centered universe. Why is it that all of our rules, theories, maxims, and models all have an exception? On the surface this seems like a rather trite question, and if you ask the average person on the street, most will simply smile, shrug, and move on. It depends on what type of measurement scale you are using.
What are you pretending not to know? This was perhaps the most powerful question I was ever asked by my best friend bengleib. What are your values and are you being true to them? Write down the 3 most important aspects of each of these areas: family, romantic relationships, friends, work, health, sex and spirituality. The desires of our ego are often in conflict with the emotions of our heart.
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Over the past 80 years it has become clear that the substantial remainder is comprised of two shadowy entities — dark matter and dark energy. The former, first discovered in , acts as an invisible glue, binding galaxies and galaxy clusters together. Astronomers are closing in on the true identities of these unseen interlopers. Four billion years ago, something started stirring in the primordial soup. A few simple chemicals got together and made biology — the first molecules capable of replicating themselves appeared. We humans are linked by evolution to those early biological molecules.