IF quantum theory seems incomprehensible you’re in good company. The experts themselves are often baffled. Marcus Chown discovered this quantum phenomenon when he decided to introduce the subject to the curious but uninitiated. So he pieced it together himself. Don’t worry, though. You can trust Chown. As a radio astronomer trained at the famous California Institute of Technology and a long- time contributor to New Scientist magazine, Chown gets things right. The result is a wonderfully witty explanation of the inexplicable.
Life in Cold Blood Cancer Explained: The Essential Guide to Diagnosis and Management
By Fred Stephens and Richard Fox Random House Australia, 267pp, $ 24.95 WAIT! To borrow from sci- fi writer Douglas Adams, ‘‘ Don’t Panic!’’ Surgical oncologist Fred Stephens and medical oncologist Richard Fox, both Australian specialists, are not scaremongers. Quite the opposite. Their straightforward, recently updated take on cancer — from adenocarcinoma to zebranoma ( OK, I made that one up) — replaces fear with fact. It canvasses the latest advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. It should interest all readers, not just those tackling cancer or helping others to do so. True, not all cancers can be cured, but many can. By David Attenborough BBC Books, 288pp, $ 59.95 THIS book, based on another television series from the mega- prolific David Attenborough, is so enticing my review copy vanished one night. Fortunately, if surprisingly, the culprit returned it, because this is a lavishly illustrated romp through the history of ectotherms, animals whose body temperature depends on their environment rather than being internally generated. Attenborough uses an approach based on evolutionary progression, stopping off at various animal examples along the way. It’s effective, instructive and enjoyable. IN 1957 Geoffrey Lee Martin was a young New Zealand journalist who scored the ultimate assignment: travel with Edmund Hillary to the Antarctic. Four years after Hillary and Tenzing Norgay knocked off Mt Everest, the adventurer was chosen to lead one of two field parties making up the Commonwealth Trans- Antarctic Expedition. It was part of the International Geophysical Year ( 1957- 58), among the largest scientific collaborations ever. Lee Martin’s gossipy, picture- packed book describes what the scientists and explorers got up to.
Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: A Guide to the Universe By Marcus Chown Faber & Faber, 200pp, $ 35
Hellbent for the Pole: An Insider’s Account of the ‘‘ Race to the South Pole’’ 1957- 1958 By Geoffrey Lee Martin, Allen & Unwin, 160pp, $ 35.00