Book Review: We Have No Idea how the universe works but the questions are fascinating

We have no idea. The job of science isn’t to know all the answers:  the job of science is to find as many answers as possible using the evidence we have and through applying things we already know to tease out more answers.  That said, even using modern techniques there are still many things that we don’t know, and for the time being, we can’t know.  This is true and has been the case throughout history.  Once upon a time we had no idea that the sun was one among billions of stars.  We didn’t know that planets orbited other stars.  We didn’t know that Earth revolved around the sun. We know that all know, but we still don’t anywhere close to everything.

We Have No Idea by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whitesonis a fun look at a few things we don’t know about the universe around us. Using humour and plenty of comic-style illustrations, the authors attempt to explain what we know, and more importantly, what we don’t know, about time, space and matter. How did the universe start? What is time?  Is there anything out there or are we alone?

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Science books are fascinating for me. I sometimes get a bigger emotional reaction reading books like this than I do about human stories in fiction novels.  This stuff is real¸ and it forces me to contemplate things much bigger than I am.  I wonder about the whys and wherefores of why there is anything at all.  The universe is an amazing place and even though I’m a tiny part of it, I’m glad I live in a time where I’m able to learn and understand even what little we do know about it.  It’s eye-opening to know that, despite all of our modern advances, we still have a fundamental lack of knowledge about what, well, everything is and where it came from. We Have No Idea is a great place to start if you have questions about the universe and especially if you don`t mind not getting answers to those questions.

We Have No Ideadoesn’t answer the big questions, but the ones it asks sure are interesting to ponder.

Steven McCreedy is a library technician at the Cambie Branch of the Richmond Public Library

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