17 Apr 2014

Marcus Chown Explains the Big Stuff

From Our Changing World, 9:20 pm on 17 April 2014

astrophysicist and writer Marcus Chown

While in Wellington, Marcus Chown visited the sanctuary Zealandia to admire a tuatara. (image: V Meduna)

The British astrophysicist and writer Marcus Chown, the author of many popular science books and recipient of the 2011 Future Book Award for his iPad app The Solar System, is know for his ability to explain complex things, so when his publisher challenged him to write a book about everything, he produced What a Wonderful World: One man’s attempt to explain the big stuff. In this latest offering, he leaves his usual territory of cosmology to explore other scientific disciplines, and even a bit of economics.

For example, he explores why sex evolved, one of evolution’s trickiest questions that has baffled biologists since Charles Darwin, and he considers the advantages we might have had over our hominin cousins, including the Neanderthals.

Other topics include the origin of computers, money and capitalism, as well as several chapters on quantum theory, relativity and black holes, all topics his readers might be more familiar with.

You can read Veronika Meduna’s review From genes via markets to the big universe, and you can listen to his interview with Kim Hill, broadcast live from the NZ Festival in Wellington, during Writers Week.