Paradox by Jim Al-Khalili


A fun and fascinating look at great scientific paradoxes.   Throughout history, scientists have come up with theories and ideas that just don't seem to make sense.  These we call paradoxes.  The paradoxes Al-Khalili offers are drawn chiefly from physics and astronomy and represent those that have stumped some of the finest minds.  For example, how can a cat be both dead and alive at the same time?  Why will Achilles never beat a tortoise i...

Details Paradox

Release DateOct 23rd, 2012
PublisherBroadway Books
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Physics, Popular Science

Reviews Paradox

  • Ahmed Samir
    So this was the true definition of a popular science book. From the get-go, Jim goes on to a number of very interesting examples to put the reader at bay with what lies ahead, and amazingly he moves from one paradox to the other very swiftly. Each paradox is discussed with the utmost care to be as clear as possible. Although I had to re-read some sections to make sure I understood, overall, it was a fantastic read. What I like most is how the aut...
  • David
    This is an entertaining book about seeming paradoxes in physics. I highly recommend the book to people interested in special relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and mathematics.Is time travel possible? That is covered in chapter 7, "The Grandfather Paradox", where Al-Khalili explains what might happen if you went back in time to murder your grandfather. Is it possible? I won't say right here, because it is definitely a spoiler. What ab...
  • retroj
    What do you do when a friend recommends a science book to you, and a few chapters in, you realise that it has nothing to teach you? ..and the writing style is bland, and the author is at one time skipping over important distinctions, and at another muddling simple ideas with rambling? You trudge on, and change your purpose from one of learning to one of gathering ammunition for a scathing book review! Let's go!As it turned out, I couldn't make my...
  • Farhana
    Fascinating ! This book deals with 9 beautiful paradoxes and their explanations. The writer and physicist Jim has done really a good job. He unfolded the paradoxes and explained things so well. The smooth covering of all the details, explanations reveal his expertise on the topics. The writing is very fluent. I believe anyone will enjoy these beautiful paradoxes. O:)
  • TheMadHatter
    The title of the book I actually read was "Paradox: The nine greatest enigmas in science" by the same author. However, given they both have the same ISBN (So I can't add my copy) and the book I read was pretty much enigmas in physics, I am going to post here and assume this is just a publisher's discretion thingo between different country releases :-). Almost like Americans calling the first Harry Potter book a sorcerer's stone (rather than the p...
  • Naomi
    Excellent explanation of some quite difficult physics concepts, and really interesting paradoxes were explored. This book really makes you question human existence and the uniqueness of our universe. It wasn't too "dumbed down" as some popular science books tend to be. Would have liked to have seen some maths in there but one can only dream.
  • Evan
    Entertaining and interesting, though at times somewhat difficult to follow and a few parts required a re-listen in order to fully grasp what was being conveyed. Glad to have read it, but wouldn't rush to re-read or recommend...
  • Joel Everett
    Great book with lots of great information in there, I’d recommend for GCSE age (about 15/16) because it gives enough information to peak interest but not in any difficult detail. Intriguing read all the same.
  • Brian Clegg
    There is something wonderful about paradoxes - and when I give talks to people about physics, I find it's the paradoxical bits, the ones that seriously bend your mind, that really get them going. That being the case, it's a no-brainer that Jim Al-Khalili's latest book is one to look out for. It's rather unfortunate that he defines paradox incorrectly at the start, saying it is 'a statement that leads to a circular and self-contradictory argument,...
  • Jim
    To earn an engineering degree many years ago, I took a lot of math and science courses. I struggled with the advanced mathematics, but I loved the sciences, especially physics, and I've been keen on science ever since. My home library includes many science books, running the gamut from cosmology to quantum mechanics. I don't always understand everything that I read, but I'm always fascinated by a well written book on science. And "Paradox: The Ni...
  • Rob Slaven
    As I've said countless times lately, I received this book in a GoodReads giveaway. With the popularity of shows like "The Big Bang Theory" it's not surprising that books of this sort are making their way increasingly into the awareness of the reading public. In a nutshell, I think this book tries to cover too much ground in too little time. For most of the topics covered a 300-page book just for one topic is not usually sufficient so to attempt t...
  • Jill
    Ever wonder if it is possible to time-travel, why the night sky is not brighter, why it is impossible to build a perpetual motion machine, or why we have not had any communication from intelligent beings from other planets? This little book by Jim Al-Khalili, a quantum physicist at the University of Surrey, answers these and several other difficult questions in easy to read language with no equations. Paradoxes are puzzles that are logical braint...
  • Laura Zimmerman
    I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I am NOT a physics or math sort of person and I entered the drawing because I hoped the book would be a Physics Made Easy sort of read.Probably because I'm not a physics or math person, it was difficult for me to read this book and stay interested. Rather than staying engaged I found myself nodding off as I read. My hope of having these concepts in physics explained in a way that made sense to me...
  • Kaleb Bierstedt
    I found this book to be very interesting, and often times found myself taking breaks during the book to sort out some the ideas that Jim Al-Khalili brings up because some of the paradoxes have such odd logic to them. Also at the time of reading this book we were learning about similar mathematical concepts that could be applied in the Achilles and the Tortoise section in my AP Calc class, so that also helped spark my interest in the book. Althoug...
  • Deidre
    Probabilities, puzzles, and problems abound in Jim Al-Khalili's book Paradox: The Nine Great Enigmas is Physics. If ever there was a book to prompt your brain to run in circles it's this one which offers conundrum after conundrum, rapid fire. Your enjoyment of this book will likely depend on how interested in quantum mechanics, physics, philosophy, and metaphysics you are. I've read a bunch of different reviews of the British version, those who h...
  • John
    I can't really say how readable it is if you've never taken Quantum Mechanics, but if you took it about 7 years ago it's not too bad. If you've heard of Olber's paradox (why is the sky dark at night), and wondered how it's resolved (not the way I thought it was) - (view spoiler)[it's not that some of the stars are further away - they should still cover the same area of sky as a nearer star. (hide spoiler)] I won't spoil the answer.Actually, most ...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    a passable intro to weird paradoxes in physics. It talks about Olbers paradox of the dark night sky, If the universe is infinite and stars are randomly distributed there should be stars in every direction and the night sky should be blazingly bright it is not because even if the universe is infinite we can only see a finite part of it because of the big bang light hasn't reached us from parts of the universe. the book goes on with zeno's paradox,...
  • Dale Furutani
    I felt one or two of the paradoxes weren't sufficiently explained which was rather disappointing, but for the most part it was a very interesting read. The author often comes across as elitist, always jumping at the chance to remind the reader he's a physicist, and you are not. However, I did enjoy the fact that he wasn't afraid to offer his personal opinion on scientific mysteries, but always made sure to preface them as his own subjective opini...
  • John
    this book was far less satisfying than it could have been. I was expecting a much more technical treatment of its chosen topics but only got a notional awareness. Having studied these various paradoxes in college physics ill just have to go back and revisit this material mathematically. Readers should expect only superficial coverage of topics in laymen's terms wrapped in TV courtroom strength logic. Understanding imparted by this book may provid...
  • Cara
    This was decent, though not earth-shattering. I was hoping to read about some paradoxes I hadn't heard of, but the author really only touched on the most famous ones. I guess I might not be the target audience for this book. Still, thorough and enjoyable explanations for the paradoxes he did talk about.
    This is a must read for people that love science without being a scientist, so I loved it. I have to admit some of the explanations were not so clear to me, because I'm not intelligent enough, but the author made serious efforts to try to be clear and easy.THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND CROWN PUBLISHING GROUP FOR THE PREVIEW
  • Chris Beiser
    Reccomended by a friend with a glowing, glowing note. I think I would have loved it at the age of ten, but having taken excellent classes that covered relativity, infinite series, and Zeno's paradox, there wasn't much to see. Skimmed.
  • Robert Giambo
    Topics seemed interesting (if you are interested in physics). However, for me the book was too elementary (having seen the topics discussed in other books) and I suspect is still too difficult for a more general reader
  • Xaka
    Couldn't finish this book. From the beginning, it annoyed me. I thought it made a good premise, but the first paradox example was so horribly explained that I simply couldn't bother to keep reading.
  • William Schram
    We’ve all heard of the concept of Paradox before, but in case you haven’t, I think this is one;The sentence below is true.The sentence above is false.Now it could also be just a word puzzle of some kind, but that is the kind of thing to expect from this offering by Jim Al-Khalili. The book claims to show the nine greatest enigmas in physics and it does a pretty good job of that. That is not to say that the Paradoxes shown are all unsolved, fa...
  • Abraham Lewik
    Go read Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science. Let me know how this compares to that. Go read The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World. Let me know how this compares to that.Go read The Fabric of the Heavens: The Development of Astronomy and Dynamics. Let me know how this compares to that.Rubbish book I didn't like it at all. There's repetition, cladding out the pages with bland restatements of earlier, dull stateme...
  • Primrose Kitten
    If you have ever been confused by a paradox and its complexity, you are not alone. A paradox is meant to be confusing, and they are made to make you question everything you think you know.However, emerging right from the depths of the multiple paradoxes in the world comes Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, to explain everything to us and finally uncover many of the most amazing enigmas in the world.Author Jim Al-Khalili could very muc...
  • Abed Dani
    Overwhelmingly mind dazzling!! Such a book that transformed me from the hocus-pocus of living inside a box to thinking outside it. Jim is smooth and direct in his explanation through out the book; this is is my first hardcore physics book and it was hard for a mediocre mind like mine despite the fact that Jim did his best to engulf all as his audience not only physicists or physics university students.I have wet dreams about space exploration - t...
  • Randal
    Not a favorite. I took 3-4 runs at this one and abandoned it with a chapter or so to go. Eventually I figured out why it doesn't work for me: It's no damned fun.Paradoxes are a source of wonder and some amusement for me: There's a sense of delight in how two seemingly contradictory things come together. That's missing from this book. The author seems much more concerned with reassuring the reader that the paradox is resolvable without violating t...
  • Diocletian
    "He's quite a man, he is. In his spare time he studies the universe." - Sid Waddell on Raymond Van Barneveld.I used to find this funny, then I realised it was me too. Paradox, a great read that leaves you begging for more. Al-Khalili explains complicated scientific concepts without patronising.The first chapter wasn't really about paradoxes at all, more counter-intuitive mathematical problems which I have read about umpteenth times elsewhere, so ...