A review of “This Book Will Blow Your Mind”

The title certainly grabs the attention. The subtitle – “Journeys to the extremes of science” – is more explanatory of what to expect. However, while science books generally tell us what we know about a particular branch of science, this work suggests that much of what we think we know may be incomplete or even wrong, across a range of sciences especially in the worlds of cosmology and quantum physics. 

Frank Swain is Communities Editor at the “New Scientist” magazine and has collated 59 essays by 41 of the magazine’s contributors. It is not an easy read, with some technical language and some tough concepts to embrace, but it is a fascinating and sobering review of how little we really know about so many important features of our universe.

At the hugest level, it asks such questions as “Why does the universe even exist?” and postulates that “a quantum leak could be flooding the universe with dark energy” and “gravitational waves could reveal hidden dimensions”. We are invited to consider the possibility of white holes as well as black holes and the notion of antigravity where things fall upwards. 

At the tiniest level, it reminds us that matter has characteristics of both a particle and a wave at the same time and mentions the weird idea of entanglement which is the ability of quantum objects that were once related to apparently influence each other’s properties when subsequently separated. We are introduced to the use of imaginary numbers, such as the square root of minus 1, and a possible new sub-atomic particle called the dilaton which would help us to understand the Higgs boson. 

Mindblowing? Well, yes – and discombulating too.


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