British science writer Highfield (The Private Lives of Albert Einstein) takes on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series "to show how many elements of her books can be found in and explained by modern science." The result is an intelligent though odd attempt to straddle the imaginative worlds of science and fiction. Using Harry's magical world to "help illuminate rather than undermine science," Highfield splits the book in two: the first half a "secret scientific study" of everything that goes on at Potter's Hogwarts school, the second half an endeavor to show the origins of the "magical thinking" found in the books, whether expressed in "myth, legend, witchcraft or monsters." This division is an obvious attempt to duplicate the method and the popularity of his Physics of Christmas. Here, however, as intriguing as the concept is, the author isn't quite able to engage or entertain as he explores the ways in which Harry's beloved game of Quidditch resembles the 16th-century Mesoamerican game Nahualtlachti or how, by using Aztec psychotropic mushrooms, Mexican peyote cactus and other types of mind-altering fungi, even Muggles can experience their own magic. While interesting, the book reads more like an obsessive Ph.D. dissertation that fails to satisfy either of its target audiences: the children who read the books or the parents who buy them and often read them themselves.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Science in the Harry Potter books?" "Yes," Highfield, science editor of London's Daily Telegraph, emphatically answers, approaching the topic in a thoroughly playful manner. He is dead serious, however, about using the Potter corpus as the launching pad for a wonderful foray into genetics, biology, quantum theory, behaviorism, mythology, folklore, and more, bolstered by drawing on and extrapolating from the work of a great variety of scientists and scholars. Magic, like science, he states, affords many insights into the workings of the human brain, which he designates as the greatest wizard of all. Whether dealing with flying broomsticks, Quidditch, or Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Highfield demonstrates how Muggle science has a leg up on many of the phenomena in Harry's world. The book's second half focuses more on the origins of magical thinking. Obviously well versed in the Potter books, Highfield deconstructs and reassembles them to make his points. Fans of such science popularizers as Gould and Asimov will certainly get a kick out of Highfield's utterly fascinating take on the subject. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I bought this book with intention to give to my son (12 years old) to read, since he is a very big fan of Harry Potter. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Natalija Ciric
This book does an amazing job introducing the "magical" world of science. I am amazed at the author`s research and discussion of emerging scientific fields--such as levitation and... Read morePublished on Feb. 29 2004 by Ginny A. Conrad
The immensely popular Harry Potter fantasy books are used as source material in The Science Of Harry Potter as a foundation for discussions of scientific and historical issues... Read morePublished on Feb. 8 2004 by Midwest Book Review
I suppose if you slap "Harry Potter" on the cover of anything you can guarantee some level of sales. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003
The Science of Harry Potter is a fairly interesting study both of how all the magic at Hogwarts can be "explained" by science and how science has diverged from the magic explored... Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by N. Chevalier
Mathematician David Deutsch says a QUANTUM COMPUTER could be programmed to do just what Lord Voldemort's magic diary could do in "The Chamber of Secrets". Read morePublished on April 19 2003 by CLIFMOM@aol.com
I gather this author makes a career of being a "debunker" of sorts. Little does he know that he's missing the point of the Potter series in many, many ways. Read morePublished on March 17 2003