Friday, 4 February 2011

How To Live Forever

Writing a book about "science" is always going to be a tricky affair.  For starters, there's a lot of science.  Biology, physics, geology...the list goes on for a very, very long time, and nobody can be an expert in everything.  Alok Jha has taken the task on though, and has done a pretty good job of it.  How To Live Forever (and 34 other really interesting uses of science) takes a huge range of scientific ideas, from the brain's underlying principles to quantum mechanics, basic botany to fringe biology, and explores them in a series of essays.

It's a book that's walking a tightrope, and it does it rather well.  The wackier elements (and you've got to have some wild speculation in a popular science book) are explored in a suitably sober manner without getting too science-fiction, and the more established science isn't just a rehashing of the usual textbook essays, it's all covered in a lively and informal manner. 

It reads in many ways like a compilation of articles from a popular science magazine rather than a book, with quirky illustrations, sidebars explaining the trickier concepts and diagrams galore.  Whatever your favourite field, there's something in here for you, along with a good few other things you never realised you were interested in.

Just one word of warning: some books come with an automatic "in your head soundtrack", and I've not been able to get Queen's Who Wants To Live Forever out of my head whilst reading this.  In fact, it's not been this bad since Bruce Hofkin's Living In A Microbial World.  (And I am a microbial girl.)

How To Live Forever
Alok Jha

(A free copy of this book was provided by the publishers for review)