To Explain the World

To Explain the World : The Discovery of Modern Science

3.69 (1,051 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


In To Explain the World, pre-eminent theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg offers a rich and irreverent history of science from a unique perspective - that of a scientist. Moving from ancient Miletus to medieval Baghdad to Oxford, and from the Museum of Alexandria to the Royal Society of London, he shows that the scientists of the past not only did not understand what we understand about the world - they did not understand what there is to understand. Yet eventually, through the struggle to solve such mysteries as the backward movement of the planets and the rise and fall of tides, the modern discipline of science emerged.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 24mm | 315g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141980877
  • 9780141980874
  • 73,734

Review quote

A great book, a necessary book for our time * Independent * In Steven Weinberg's To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science and Frank Wilczek's A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design, two Nobel physicists give two astonishingly different accounts of the history of science, from antiquity to their own discoveries. Weinberg takes an unapologetically hard-headed stance, where philosophy, beauty and so forth are denounced as misleading. Wilczek sketches a dreamy vision, where beauty and harmony are essential ingredients of the quest for knowledge. Who is right? Both: this is the magic of science, which coherently combines wildly diverse skills. Weinberg is a father of electroweak theory, Wilczek of strong interaction. Still unsolved is gravity: what are the skills we need to solve it? We do not know yet -- Carlo Rovelli, Financial Times 'Books of the Year' I read To Explain the World completely enthralled. It transmutes the base metal of a mere history of science into pure gold-into a magisterial celebration of a long and heroic struggle, still incomplete, to understand nature. Only a committed scientist of Steven Weinberg's brilliance, experience and breadth of insight could have accomplished this. I ended the book exhilarated * Ian McEwan * In this masterful, entertainingly 'irreverent' book, Weinberg explains the rise of science from ancient Greeks to modern geeks in terms that his students and the rest of us will understand -- Iain Finlayson * The Times * It would be putting it mildly to say that Weinberg triumphantly lives up to what it says on the Nobel tin: a true intellectual as well as a brilliant theoretical physicist -- Richard Dawkins Regarded as the pre-eminent theoretical physicist alive today... Weinberg is also a fine writer and communicator about ideas beyond his own field... Weinberg has clearly carried out extensive scholarly investigation for To Explain the World, and the book works as history. But what makes it tand out is his perspective as a top scientist working today -- Clive Cookson * Financial Times * Weinberg has reached the pinnacle of scientific success - the Nobel Prize - he writes clearly and with confidence, imbuing the reader with an irresistible sense that one is in the hands of a master physicist at play * Sunday Times * There have been many accounts of the historical progression of our understanding of the world around us, but few have had the unique selling point of Steven Weinberg's To Explain the World... Weinberg's chronicle of the long development of physics leading up to the role he has personally played in it is akin to Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples -- Lewis Dartnell * Telegraph * An absolute delight * Times Higher Education * A refreshing contrast to other tomes on the topic... Weinberg reminds us to be humble not only about what we know, but how we know it * The Guardian * An enlightening read that does not demand specialist knowledge to enjoy -- Robert Kingston * Sunday Times * The book is a magnificent contribution to the history and philosophy of science...Weinberg writes with great verve and clarity * Times Literary Supplement * A salacious insight into the careers and super-stardom that eventually drove both to emotional and artistic breakdown -- Julia Richardson, 'Must reads' * Daily Mail *
show more

About Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg has won the Nobel Prize in Physics, the National Medal of Science, the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet and numerous honorary degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the American Philosophical Society. A long-time contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is the author of The First Three Minutes and Dreams of a Final Theory, among other books.
show more

Review Text

A great book, a necessary book for our time Independent
show more

Rating details

1,051 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 24% (247)
4 36% (378)
3 29% (304)
2 10% (102)
1 2% (20)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X