Mary and John Gribbin–The Science of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

The What: The Gribbins, scientists both, take on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. They use examples from the trilogy to illustrate scientific principles. Quantum entanglement, Jungian psychology, the Many-Worlds theory, and the Northern Lights are all fair game. Even Schrodinger’s Cat makes an appearance!

The Good: The Gribbins manage to explain concepts as complicated as string theory in a clear and easy-to-follow manner (even I understood what they meant, and I had to take Physics For Poets back in undergrad.) The tone is light even when the content is mind-bending, and the illustrations and diagrams are helpful. I loved that this book illuminated in both directions: I understood the natural world better once I finished it, and I also had a deeper understanding of Pullman’s trilogy.

The Meh: Science-inclined readers who are not fans of the series will find no point in the many references to the books’ events. In conservative religious communities, many young adults are not allowed to read Pullman’s trilogy, and will consequently be more likely to avoid this book.

Hand It To: His Dark Materials fans, science geeks, imaginative teens who need or want to read a non-fiction book


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