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Sunday, 10 January 2010

My Heroes: (23) John Gribbin

The other 22 can be found in my previous blog click here for 1 to 20, here for 21 and here for 22. For me, the science writer John Gribbin has that rare and wonderful gift; the ability to make 'difficult' ideas from science accessable to the non-professional reader. He belongs to a distinguished group of scientists who posess this skill: his fellow British writers Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones and the late Americans Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman. I would like to hear of recommendations of other 'popular science' writers that you may know of. He has published more than 100 books and has written for New Scientist and leading UK newspapers and the BBC. His best-known book is In Search of Schrödinger's Cat (1984)which tackles the elusive subject of quantum theory. Richard Feynman had once said that anyone who thought he understood quantum physics "did not understand quantum physics". In other words it cannot be understood! Grisham helped me get beyond that point but it is the most dangerous assumption to make. My favourite of his books is The Birth of Time: How We Measured the Age of The Universe (1999) which tells a fascinating story and explains the importance of Hubbles Constant. According to Wikipedia, his book, Get a Grip on Physics (2003), saw a sudden surge in sales at Amazon.com after it was spotted in the pictures of Tiger Wood's crashed car on November 27, 2009.

4 comments:

Bob said...

Thanks for bringing this to my notice. I have made several attempts to understand quantum physics but ended up feeling disorientated.....the last book I looked at was "Science, a history of discovery in the twentieth century" by Trevor I. Williams.

I expect you know the quote: "The universe is not only stranger than we think, it is stranger than we CAN think!"

bazza said...

I think the quote is by Arthur Eddington, one of the British pioneers of quantum stuff.
One is never sure if these ideas have been completely understood; there is a need to disregard any preconcieved notions which is a big ask.
Thanks for the visit Bob. Happy days are here again!
Also thanks for the book listing. I'll check it out at the library.

Yair Cohen said...

These people are incredible because of their unique ability to focus on their audience/ readers ability to understand what they are actually talking about. Albert Einstein, once when asked to explain in simple terms what his life work was all about, said in one sentence ‘nothing happens until something moves’. We need to know nothing about science to understand the man’s conclusions. And this is what brilliancy is all about. Everyone can understand what this means. We did a very interesting experiment in an attempt to explain some serious problems and their solutions to people who know nothing about the law http://www.bainscohen.com/legal-services/legal-services/family.html and thanks to Albert Einstein we saw some great result almost straight away.

bazza said...

Shalom Yair. Thank you for your very interesting contibution.I know your practice in Barking Town Centre as I used to be based in the Small Business Centre in the Old Odeon Suite.