Galileo's Finger is quite simply the best introduction to modern scientific concepts that has ever been written.
Taking its cue from C.P. Snow's remark that 'not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read a work by Shakespeare', by reading this book you will become literate in modern science. The ten great ideas it introduces with brilliant imagery range from natural selection through quantum theory to curved spacetime. Never before have these core ideas of modern civilization been presented in so accessible and engaging a manner.
"An accessible and informative introduction to Western scientific thought."--Science News
"For the uninitiated, this is remedial education that is pleasurable rather than punishing."--Booklist
"The Nobel Prize for Literature has never been won by a scientist. It is high time it happened, and Peter Atkins would be my candidate. He is not a popularizer of science in the ordinary sense.... He is not afraid to lead us toward the far horizons of scientific understanding but, rather than oversimplify and trivialise, he uses his powerful mastery of the English language to open our eyes to the poetry of deep science.... Atkins's literate prose leaves us inspired, fulfilled, enriched, and properly alive."--Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and Unweaving the Rainbow
Prologue: the emergence of understanding; 1. Evolution: the emergence of complexity; 2. DNA: the rationalization of biology; 3. Energy: the universalization of accountancy; 4. Entropy: the spring of change; 5. Atoms: the reduction of matter; 6. Symmetry: the quantification of beauty; 7. Quanta: the simplification of understanding; 8. Cosmology: the globalization of reality; 9. Spacetime: the arena of action; 10. Arithmetic: the limitation of explanation; Epilogue: the future of understanding; Further Reading; Index