"Science is done by real human beings, with human concerns. Only the Longest Threads tells a story that conveys the human side of science in a way that is as moving as it is accurate."—Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
Only the Longest Threads will thrill readers with its dramatic and lucid accounts of the great breakthroughs in the history of physics—classical mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and string theory, each from the viewpoint of a (fictional) witness to the events.
Tasneem Zehra Husain re-imagines the pivotal moments in the history of physics when radical new theories shifted our perception of the universe, and our place in it. Husain immerses the reader in the immediacy and excitement of the discoveries—and she guides us as we begin to understand the underlying science and to grasp the revolutionary step forward each of these milestones represents.
"Tasneem Zehra Husain writes lyrically, poetically about life, love, and physics. I highly recommend this wonderful book for anyone interested in what physics, and indeed all of science, is about. She masterfully describes the most momentous moments in physics history with verve and talent."—Amir D. Aczel, bestselling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem
"A delightful meditation on the development of modern physics, culminating in the discovery of the Higgs. Husain follows the thread of its creation through a dialog between a journalist and young theory student, and as seen through the eyes of witnesses."—John Huth, Donner Professor of Science, Harvard University
"Well-written and cleverly constructed, this book takes us on a journey through the history of physics as a series of fictional adventures, loosely linked by another fiction, the storytellers' emails to each other. Some books are praised because 'I couldn’t put it down,' but this one merits a deeper reading, one that stops, muses on, and savors each story before going on to the next. Each one captures not only the emergence of a significant idea in physics, but also something of the characters, culture, and times surrounding that development. So take your time, pause to ponder, but persevere, you will be well rewarded!"—Helen R. Quinn, Physicist, Science Educator, and co-author of The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter, Professor Emeritus SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
"How do theoretical physicists think? Tasneem Zehra Husain knows. She knows their purpose, feels their passions, articulates their frustrations, shares their triumphs. Through the device of fiction Only the Longest Threads communicates the history of physical thought—its roots in inquisitiveness and essential disinterest in outcome—with greater clarity than any popular science text."—Michael Duff FRS, Abdus Salam Professor of Theoretical Physics, Imperial College London
"An artfully constructed journey through space and time."—Freddy Cachazo, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
"Husain skillfully weaves a poetic tapestry."—Joseph Mazur, author of Enlightening Symbols
Tasneem Zehra Husain is a writer, educator, and Pakistan’s first female string theorist. She holds a PhD from Stockholm University and did post-doctoral research at Harvard University.
Husain is fascinated by scientific theories, how we engage with them, and how they change us. She explores these themes in her fiction and nonfiction writing, her popular talks, and the educational workshops she conducts for science teachers. Husain is actively involved in science outreach, and frequently delivers talks about theoretical physics to students and lay audiences. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.