Books

Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You So, How Do You Know It's True?

Digital information is a powerful tool that spreads unbelievably rapidly, infects all corners of society, and is all but impossible to control—even when that information is actually a lie. In Virtual Unreality, Charles Seife uses the skepticism, wit, and sharp facility for analysis that captivated readers in Proofiness and Zero to take us deep into the Internet information jungle and cut a path through the trickery, fakery, and cyber skullduggery that the online world enables. Taking on everything from breaking news coverage and online dating to program trading and that eccentric and unreliable source that is Wikipedia, Seife arms his readers with actual tools—or weapons—for discerning truth from fiction online.

"Intense and incisive, Seife’s exposé of potent tricks on the mesmerizing, overpowering Internet makes us very wary about anything that cannot be verified with our own eyes."
—Publishers Weekly

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers—they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything. As Charles Seife explains in this eyeopening book, "Proofiness" is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends. Bad mathematics has a dark side: it is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. As silly as proofiness can be, it is also incredibly dangerous; indeed, it is threatening the foundations of our society.

"A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for... well, for everyone."
—Booklist

Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking

When weapons builders detonated the first hydrogen bomb in 1952, they tapped into the vastest source of energy in our solar system—nuclear fusion—the very same phenomenon that makes the sun shine. Fusion promised a virtually unlimited source of power that could solve humanities energy needs forever. Instead, it became the center of a tragic and comic quest that has left scores of scientists battered and disgraced. For the past half-century, governments and research teams have tried to bottle the sun with lasers, magnets, sound waves, particle beams, and chunks of metal. Again and again, they have failed. Sun in a Bottle is the first major book to trace the story of fusion from its beginnings into the 21st century—revealing how scientists have gotten burned by trying to harness the power of the sun.

"A relentlessly entertaining tale of scientists pursuing a dazzling dream that, in the author's educated opinion, may never come true."
—Kirkus

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes

Previously the domain of philosophers and linguists, information theory has now moved beyond the province of code breakers to become the crucial science of our time. In Decoding the Universe, Charles Seife draws on his gift for making cutting-edge science accessible to explain how this new tool is deciphering everything from the purpose of our DNA to the parallel universes of our Byzantine cosmos. The result is an exhilarating adventure that deftly combines cryptology, physics, biology, and mathematics to cast light on the new understanding of the laws that govern life and the universe.

"In a book that's all but impossible to put down, science journalist Seife (Alpha & Omega) explains how the concepts of information theory have begun to unlock many of the mysteries of the universe, from quantum mechanics to black holes and the likely end of the universe."
—Publisher's Weekly

Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe

Today we are on the verge of discoveries that should soon reveal the deepest secrets of the universe. In Alpha & Omega, Charles Seife takes us to the front lines of the cosmological revolution to synthesize the discoveries of scientists at observatories and laboratories around the world who are actually peering into both the cradle of the universe and its grave. The cast of characters includes galaxy hunters and microwave eavesdroppers, gravity theorists and atom smashers, all of whom are on the trail of dark matter, dark energy, and the growing inhabitants of the particle zoo. Seife's lucid explanations of scientific theories and current research make cutting-edge science both crystal clear and wonderfully exciting.

"A primer on the history and state of cosmology that is easy to read and understand… Seife's book shines."
—The New York Times

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Charles Seife traces the origins and colorful history of the number zero from Aristotle to superstring theory by way of Pythagoras, the Kabbalists, and Einstein. Weaving together ancient dramas and state-of-the-art science, Zero is a concise tour of a universe of ideas bound up in the simple notion of nothingness.

"From the first page to the last, Seife maintains a level of clarity and infectious enthusiasm that is rare in science writing, and practically unknown among those who dare to explain mathematics. Zero is really something!"
—The Washington Post

Books

Virtual Unreality

Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You So, How Do You Know It's True?

Proofiness

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

Sun in a Bottle

Sun In A Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking

Decoding the Universe

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, From Our Brains to Black Holes

Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega: The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe

Zero

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea