Saturday 19 May 2018

Review: A New Map of Wonders: A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels

A New Map of Wonders: A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels A New Map of Wonders: A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels by Caspar Henderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

There was a time when humans had a natural curiosity and wonder for the world around themselves. Before Google, to find things out you actually had to go and learn them, experience them or find and read the book about it. Nowadays anyone with an interweb connection can quickly read up about anything about any subject. By having everything available at our fingertips has meant that information is transitory, read but never absorbed and more importantly as Henderson argues in this book, we have almost lost the ability to wonder.

People have wondered what is over that far hill and what lies just beyond the horizon for millennia now and the oldest form of this speculation was the map. These mappae mundi were the places where people's imaginations could run riot, full of strange and magical creatures and of unknown lands, these were the internet of the day.

Should we want to look up from the blue LED glare of our screens though there is still a universe of wonder out there? Henderson takes us on a journey through what he considers to be some of the wonders still left in the world. Beginning with light where he explores from the photon to the black hole passing under the rainbow. He then moves within our body to discover more about the workings of the heart and brain. The chapter on the physical brain leads on to the concept of self as we currently understand it.

The final two chapters and my favourites were on how we see the world then and now and the wonderfully titled Adventures with Perhapsatron. Throughout the book, there are diagrams and illustrations to complement the text and I particularly liked the use of side notes to add a little extra depth, though the grey font wasn't the easiest to read. Overall an enjoyable book.

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