Science of Discworld

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Science of Discworld is a quadrilogy of popular science books written by Terry Pratchett in collaboration with mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen. Each book combines a Discworld-based story by Pratchett interwoven with chapters on real world science by Stewart and Cohen.


Each book has the recurring theme of looking at the origins of the Universe, the Solar System, and life itself. The focus throughout is on explaining how scientific theories and methods work, and how common misconceptions about maths and physics arise. As the book says, "shouting at the monkeys in the next tree, that's what our brains were evolved to do; not mathematics and physics!" One of the major recurring themes, even stated as practically the "motto" of the series is "people think in stories". This is related to the shouting at monkeys idea in the sense that people really don't think in terms of fixed facts or figures, but weaving narratives. Narratives have characters, sides, aims, intentions and countless other implied features that don't necessarily exist in reality. This realisation has a profound effect on understanding why people believe what they believe, and why they can often act irrationally.

The first book, The Science of Discworld covers the origins of the Universe, Earth and life. The second book, The Globe, concentrates mainly on history and the development of modern society. The third book, Darwin's Watch, concentrates on evolution, with the Discworld-based story following the wizards as they attempt to get Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species written. The fourth book, Judgement Day, examines the role of religion in people's lives, with the Discworld story revolving around a fundamentalist Omnian sect.

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