This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (Edge Question Series) (Paperback)

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Emily K's Staff Pick (July 2013):  To scientists, a theory that is “elegant” or “beautiful” is one that explains a deeply puzzling question with a simple set of principles, in a simple way. This book is a collection of essays written by scientists, economists, and mathematicians in response to the question: “what is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” From Darwinism to déjà vu, these essays revisit classic theories and point to new intellectual frontiers. Because each essay is short and simple—“beautiful,” if you will— I was able to fly through the book and learn quite a bit in the process.

— From Emily Katzman’s Staff Picks


In This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world's best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more, everything is explained in fun, uncomplicated terms that make the most complex concepts easy to comprehend.

Praise For…

“A smorgasbord of ideas.”

“Offers a rare chance to discover big ideas before they hit the mainstream.”

“Fun and inspirational. … This engaging collection can be read from cover to cover or browsed as interest dictates, but all inquisitive readers will enjoy it. Highly recommended…”

“Characteristically thought-provoking and reliably cross-disciplinary, This Explains Everything is a must-read in its entirety.”

“A collection of essays by big thinkers answering big questions [should be] deeply satisfying. And This Explains Everything delivers.”

“The most stimulating English-language reading to be had from anywhere in the world.”

“Delivers an intellectual mélange you can dip into and savor. ... The reader gets something new at each turn of the page.”

“A collection that reads like the best TED talks ever. It’s an absolute pleasure to read.”

“Rich in mental fodder. ... An indispensable way to sample thinking from many corners of the intellectual spectrum.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062230171
ISBN-10: 0062230174
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2013
Pages: 432
Language: English
Series: Edge Question Series