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Finished The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins (3/5)

The audio version of this book is read by Richard Dawkins and some other Lalla Ward. This is mainly relevant because it meant that I got to spend 5 hours listening to British accents. =)

The book itself was good. Each chapter poses a question, gives some answers provided by traditional myths, and then talks about the real scientific answer. I'll lay out up front, that yes, Dawkins does use the Bible for some of his examples of myths, but except to the biblical literalists (especially of the Creationist variety), these are the parts that are generally taken to have a mythical element.

Also, while I'm on the disclaimers, this book focuses on where Dawkins does best -- explaining science in a manner accessible to the lay reader -- but it does veer just a little into rantiness in one of the later chapters.

Moving along, the questions and answers presented in this book should be broadly familiar to anyone who had an retained a decent science education, but there was the occasional moment of "so that's how it works!" illumination. For me, one such moment was the explanation of why the angle of the earth relative to the sun makes such a difference in perceived temperature [1]. From an educational standpoint, I think that this would be a really great book to get for a high school student or even an advanced middle school student.

[1] When the sun hits the earth at a shallower angle, the same amount of solar energy is spread over a wider area, so the energy received per square inch is decreased.
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Erika RS

May 2012

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