As the old saying goes, sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction. There is no doubt that the world of quantum physics wears the very fabric of this phrase. Readers of science fiction should find Michael Brooks’ 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, a non-fiction book, as outlandish and riveting as any Robert Heinlein classic.
13 Things came out four years ago and found its way to the top of my reading list around a year after that. If only for the second chapter, it’s a must-read. Brooks covers topics as intriguing as astrophysics and molecular biology, while trekking through a healthy sampling of other areas of interest. And he covers everything in accessible language that eases into the mind rather than drying the eyes in boredom. For mysteries as complex as an eerie ‘alien’ transmission and the missing 96 percent of the universe, Brooks offers a very light read. Clearly, he wanted to share these mysteries with non-technical readers and he describes everything with that in mind.
One of the methods of writing good, suspenseful stories is hinting at something, while delaying its full revelation. Give the reader something to think about that they can’t quite latch upon. Show something in the distance, through fog, something that they may approach as they read further. It is no wonder then Brooks’ book became a best-seller; its very basis is to look as carefully as we may at mysteries which still evade the best minds of our age. What better way to play upon our fascination toward the unknown than to write a book whose very subject remains beyond our understanding? It’s really an ingenious method.
Now, as a Christian, I have many answers for Brooks for his chapters on the nature of death, sex, and free will. Yet, the science of those subjects is intriguing as well. At heart they will not find ultimate answers in the material of these concepts, any more than mathematicians can find proofs of topology by analyzing the paper they write these proofs upon. Science is necessarily confined to the material and so finds itself incapable of divulging the secrets of the soul. For consciousness needs a material definition, in order for there to be analysis of its volitional nature. Death and sex are both material concerns which transcend that medium in complex and intricate ways. But I shall leave this discussion here, in that I have high praise even for these sections of 13 Things.
Brooks’ book is a fascinating weave of the physical world and those tangles we have yet to fully realize and understand. Well worth checking out.