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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2002
Apart from being a Pratchett fan, I'm an almost post graduate biology student interested in education en popularising science. Therefore, this book stands high on my list of best books ever. Apart from a very entertaining story featuring the ever-blundering wizards of U.U. (and Rincewind in the role of Professor of Unusual and Cruel Geography), this is really a very, very good science textbook.
The strength of the science book part (reviews on the story can be found aplenty on this page) is that it is for one thing very clearly structured, starting with the "birth" of the universe as we now perceive it and ending with a (maybe) over-the-top look into the future. But apart from this comprehensive structure, the science writing is also very clever. Many science books just state what is known, so only the dry facts. The authors of this book also give a framework, for example some history of how knowledge is obtained, a process that is mostly unknown to those who have not followed an academic science education.
But that's not all. Many times the authors start out by stating something that is known to everybody, giving the explanations we all learn in high school. And then they go about by showing us how exactly these high school explanation (or "lies-to-children" as they call them) are wrong, or at least a small part of the truth, giving a much more complicated image of how things work and even leaving things unexplained (because that's how it is in science, not all things can be explained satisfactorily). And that is, in my opinion, the strength of the book, a glimpse is given on how science is practised, how knowledge is gained and how things are always more complicated than you think they are.
I gave this book to a friend of mine who has had a long career in teaching (not only high-school teaching, but also teaching teachers-to-be how to teach) and he was also very enthusiastic about the book, because it really lets you wrestle with the various ideas and theories presented.
I myself have learned greatly from this book, not only from certain subjects that, being a biologist, are not part of your education (for example the physics involved in the biginning of the universe), but also about the more philosophical side of science (the chapter called "Things that aren't", which deals with how strange human thinking and perception sometimes work, is my all time favorite). This is why I very strongly recommend this book to all undergraduate science students (and really anyone involved in science or even remotely interested in it); they can profit greatly from reading this book. My only fear is that this book will, completely unjustified, disappear on the "Sci-fi and Fantasy" shelves in bookstores, and will not be found on the "Popular science" shelves where is really belongs!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2001
"The Science of Discworld" by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen isn't really about Discworld. Well, in a way, it -is- about Discworld, but it really is a lot more about well, "Life on Earth".
This book is amazingly comprehensive about modern science, both what science -is- and how it got be that way. Topics run a happy gamut from space elevators (as in Arthur Clarke's "Fountains Of Paradise") to DNA (another "space elevator") to gravity (Newtonian, and Einsteinian) to mutation, the origins of Life, evolution, and the Turtle that carries the Universe on its back. (Oops! wrong Universe.)
An interesting concept that helps to form the basis of this book is "Lies to Children"; these are those "facts" we are presented with from early on in our awareness, by people that aren't happy with the truth. "Where do babies come from?" is a question that often results in a "lie to children"; adults, often assuming that their children aren't sufficiently mature enough to understand the concept of conception, tend to offer a somewhat abridged version of the truth that does little to enlighten anyone.
"The Science of Discworld" presents an array of "lies to children" and the facts as we know them, now. It allows for the inevitable future discoveries, while presenting what we (in the scientific sense) believe we know about "Life, the Universe, and Everything" in an easily digestable fashion.
All this information could be bewildering; this presentation isn't. This is good, readable, non-fiction with solid facts, interesting (and logical) conclusions, and with all the strange twists and turns of a good "who-done-it," with a fair smidgen of sci-fi-fantasy thrown in.
I would unhesitatingly recommend "The Science of Discworld" as required reading for all science teachers, and *highly* recommended for budding scientists of all ages. To me at 50, it is an epiphany; I can only imagine the personal impact if I had read this at 15.
Now, about that turtle...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2002
What can I say? If you love Prachett, the wizards and have an open mind this one's for you! The science part of this book is written with humour and wit so it never sounds like one of your old college text books. The Discworld story that accompanies and introduces the science chapters is wonderful in and of itself. Putting them together in this book makes it one great educational read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2002
We are watching the wizards of Unseen University watching an Earth-like planet be created. Sounds complicated? Not really...
A brief, yet in-depth (I don't know how that can work, but it does) explanation on how it is currently believed out world works is nothing short of miraculous, especially due to the clarity in which it is explained. Interlaced with a story about the wizards' experiments with their new toy planet, this book is completely riveting and highly informative.
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on March 29, 2013
All I can say is that I wish we had had books like this when I was still in school. It makes learning about the universe fun in a way I have never before encountered.

The Discworld story helps break up the science lessons into more comfortable pieces as well as helping support the science facts by presenting a different perspective. If you are expecting a simple story book you may be a bit disappointed, but if you like learning then this book is awesome!
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on February 23, 2004
If you're a fan of Pratchett and you enjoy educational reading, you'll love this book. Pratchett's tone is conversational and entertaining. He talks about the history of the planet and the scientific concepts involved as if he was telling a story. Even if you're not a big science buff, this book will be interesting.
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on October 30, 2013
Not a standard Terry Pratchett, I'm a huge fan. Fantastic mixing of science and fantasy. I bought as I started reading I think Science o 3 or 4 and decided that I needed to go back. Thought provoker.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2002
A story about ants that build virtual hiways, cats that are both alive and dead (and possibly extremely miffed) and oversexed apes that have an interesting family tree. And all of this didn't happen on the Disc, IT HAPPENED IN THE REAL WORLD.
The wizards of Discworld embark on a journey of discovery and experimentation when they create their own universe, our universe, where the logical outcome never seems to happen. Every alternate chapter in the book is written by two scientists (Cohen & Stewart) who explain the most mind boggling concepts in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way.
Some of the concepts explored in this book include; Quantum Mechanics, Relativity, Time travel, Evolution, Astrophysics and Space Travel, among others. This book lets you explore new ways of thinking, for example; Everyone knows that our universe seems to run on rules (like things attract other things [gravitation]). Have you ever wondered why these rules exist? Why, at the beginning of the Universe, rules came to impose themselves on everything?
A book for Science (and Science Fiction) fans and Discworld fans alike. For the Discworld fanatic, the book includes some of the most popular characters like Death, Rincewind, The Luggage, The Librarian and Hex, the computer of Unseen University. You won't be able to wait to find out what will happen in the next chapter - in the real world AND on the Disc.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2002
What can I say? If you love Prachett, the wizards and have an open mind this one's for you! The science part of this book is written with humour and wit so it never sounds like one of your old college text books. The Discworld story that accompanies and introduces the science chapters is wonderful in and of itself. Putting them together in this book makes it one great educational read.
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