What We Are Reading Today: The World According to Physics

Short Url
Updated 08 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The World According to Physics

Author: Jim Al-Khalili

Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.
Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics — quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics — showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full understanding of reality.
Using wonderful examples and thought-provoking analogies, Al-Khalili illuminates the physics of the extreme cosmic and quantum scales, the speculative frontiers of the field, and the physics that underpins our everyday experiences and technologies, bringing the reader up to speed with the biggest ideas in physics in just a few sittings.
Physics is revealed as an intrepid human quest for ever more foundational principles that accurately explain the natural world we see around us, an undertaking guided by core values such as honesty and doubt.


What We Are Reading Today: The Development Dilemma by Robert H. Bates

Updated 11 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Development Dilemma by Robert H. Bates

In The Development Dilemma, Robert Bates responds to this challenge by turning to history, focusing on England and France. By the end of the 18th century, England stood poised to enter “the great transformation.” France by contrast verged on state failure, and life and property were insecure. Probing the histories of these countries, Bates uncovers a powerful tension between prosperity and security: Both may be necessary for development, he argues, but efforts to achieve the one threaten the achievement of the other. A fundamental tension pervades the political economy of development.

Bates also argues that while the creation of a central hierarchy—a state—may be necessary to the achievement of development, it is not sufficient. What matters is how the power of the state is used. France and England teach us that in some settings the seizure and redistribution of wealth—not its safeguarding and fostering—is a winning political strategy.

These countries also suggest the features that mark those settings—features that appear in nations throughout the developing world.