Henry Gee, Senior editor for what many have called the most important magazine in science today - Nature - has written a spellbinding, fun, and accessible book explaining the scientific basis for how all that wizardy, sorcery, and magic really works in JRR Tolkien's fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings and his other fictional books featuring Middle-earth. The author exploreHenry Gee, Senior editor for what many have called the most important magazine in science today - Nature - has written a spellbinding, fun, and accessible book explaining the scientific basis for how all that wizardy, sorcery, and magic really works in JRR Tolkien's fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings and his other fictional books featuring Middle-earth. The author explores just how elves might be able to see much further than humans, why Frodo's sword turns blue at the sight of evil orcs, how the rings of power do their thing, and just about every other conundrum or piece of 'elvish magic' that have puzzled and delighted Tolkien fans for years. Throughout, Gee makes the point that science, fantasy , and nature are really more similar than one might think. Gee writes in a popular tone and style, fully explaining all science concepts and convincingly demonstrating how Tolkien's world of fantasy makes sense in a very real - scientific - way....
|Title||:||The Science of Middle-Earth: Explaining The Science Behind The Greatest Fantasy Epic Ever Told!|
|Number of Pages||:||256 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Science of Middle-Earth: Explaining The Science Behind The Greatest Fantasy Epic Ever Told! Reviews
Not so much the science of Middle-Earth, but a discussion of various scientific topics using Middle-Earth as a jumping-off point: if Legolas can distinguish individuals at a certain distance far beyond that at which Aragorn can, what does that tell us about the elf eye - and what do we know about how the eye works, and how it communicates to the brain, and what kind of implications might that have for how elves perceive the world? What real metals have the properties attributed to mithril, and what do we know about metals and metallurgy and woo, aren't metals nifty?
When I saw this book (subtitled “Explaining The Science Behind The Greatest Fantasy Epic Ever Told!” in the original US edition), I thought it was time to put my foot down. Okay, Douglas Adams’ delirious fantasy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was largely a science fiction parody, so Science of Hitchhiker’s made sense. Even Science of Discworld works, thanks to the conceit of treating it as the view of fantasy characters of Discworld observing our science. But Science of Middle Earth? Isn’t it all swords and sorcery? What’s more, Tolkien was famously a romantic who longed for a non-existent bucolic rural past, typified by the hobbits’ Shire (while conveniently forgetting the rampant disease, infant mortality and frequent malnutrition, that were just some of the joys of the real rural past). Didn’t Tolkien attack the whole idea of science and technology as the black vision of the likes of his number II baddy, Saruman?Henry Gee, a senior editor of the definitive science journal Nature in his day job, makes a striking case for taking a different viewpoint. He reminds us firstly that Tolkien’s own speciality, the study of words and language, a subject that is at the heart of The Lord of the Rings and his other heavy duty fiction, is a science. He also makes it clear that Tolkien wasn’t anti-science per se (apparently Isaac Asimov was a favourite of his). What he was against was the wrong attitude to science – letting it control us, rather than the other way around. In fact, Gee argues persuasively that, for instance, the Elves in LoTR don’t use magic (they say this themselves), but technology that is so in tune with nature that it’s hard to distinguish from it.All in all this makes for a fascinating and very unusual entry in the “Science of…” league. Firstly it’s a very literary and precise book for such a subject. There’s as much about language as there is about “normal” science, and Gee’s approach has a scholarly care that may seem a little dry to the followers of more straight forward popular science, but that works surprisingly well. After the aspects of language, a lot of space is given to the biology of Middle Earth – where did orcs come from? What is the biology of ents? – all fascinating stuff.There is one iffy bit of science. Gee suggests that the palantiri, the long distance seeing stones that feature in the book, could be linked by quantum entanglement, allowing instant communication. The trouble is, while quantum entanglement does provide an instant link across any distance, it can only provide the result of a random outcome – it can’t instantly communicate any information . (It’s just as well: if it could, it would be possible to send a message through time and disrupt causality.) It’s fine to come up with real world scientific solutions to oddities of fiction, but they ought to make sense with science as we know it.Just occasionally, for instance when Gee was struggling to explain how the One Ring could make people invisible I wanted to shout “What’s the point? It’s just a story!” But that’s not the main reaction to this book. Any Tolkien fan will find fascinating insights into the man and a side of his interests that is wildly underrepresented in what has been written about him. And as an exercise in “Science of…” attached to a work of fiction it’s one of the best around . In the ebook edition this problem is highlighted and explored, but only in a note at the back of the book, which still leaves the error in the main text. The Science of Middle Earth is even better in the ebook edition  (would Tolkien have approved?), which has been updated from the original, though most of the updates seem to be in the end notes. So, for instance, where in the main text Gee refers to the difficulties of juggling various e-devices that don’t communicate (like PDAs – remember PDAs?), he updates this in the notes. If possible, go for the ebook edition.Review first published on www.popularscience.co.uk and reproduced with permission
That should be 3.5 stars, really - 4 stars for being a very entertaining read, but only 3 for being only marginally relevant to Tolkien. The book contains a great mix of informative tidbits about a wide range of topics from the sciences, all inspired by ideas from Tolkien's works - e.g. the presence of ents or oliphaunts giving rise to discussions of the causes of extinction and of what it evolutionarily possible, the idea of mithril to discussions of barely researched properties of new metals etc - all these bits are fascinating for their own sake, but don't elucidate Tolkien. There are only two or three instances of academic thought providing - admittedly very good - insights into Tolkien. Most of the time, though, it is Tolkien (and questions raised through him for the author) who creates insight into science. Which is good, better than what I expected, really. So, the book is more about how Tolkien creates interest in science than explaining Tolkien in terms of science (even though that seems to have been the basic idea - or has it? The final chapter, in any case, seems to support the former, for here the author shows up how proponents of science tend to shoot themselves in the foot by establishing science as dogmatic fact in opposition to imagination). The book also has very good footnotes at the end.There is a kindle version of this book. Although it suffers a bit from too many digitization typos, the footnotes have been turned into links, so are accessible while reading.
If you're a die hard Tolkien fan, then The Science of Middle Earth is for you. Henry Gee takes what is thought of as a purely literary, fantastic tale and applies real world scientific concepts to see what makes it all tick. People who are less familiar with Tolkien's work, though, would struggle quite a bit in getting through it.Read the full review at Mithril Wisdom
This delightful, loosely connected series of essays explores possible real-world parallels and mechanisms for some of the seemingly fantastical aspects of Middle Earth. How did Orcs reproduce? How could dragons breathe fire? Could Balrogs fly? Review: http://www.carlanayland.org/reviews/s...
Fun and not too heavy. Uses Tolkien's work as a jumping off point to discuss real science, rather than being a discussion of the internal science of Tolkien's world. Reminded me why I love LOTR so much and made me want to read it again!
Amusing read, but doesn't exactly deliver what it promised. Tolkien's universe is used more as a jumping-off point for musings on the often-times fantastical and definitely fascinating nature of science in our own world.
For every Tolkein fan.