How It All Works

How It All Works
Adam Dant and Brian Clegg
Ivy Press

There’s a mind-blowing amount of information broken into bite size portions packed between the covers of this chunky book, revealing to readers the ways in which complex science laws and phenomena affect our daily lives. Science in action it surely is.

Divided into thirteen chapters (plus an introduction and reference section of key figures and an index of the laws) it starts in the kitchen, gradually spreading out into the house, the garden, the Science Museum, and other places that may be found on a walk along the street from the town square.

It then moves into the countryside and to the coastline, the continent, the earth, the solar system and finally, the entire universe with every chapter starting with one of Adam Dant’s incredibly detailed illustrations.

Embedded within each of these are forty six different laws and phenomena behind the featured objects and activities. In his introduction Brian Clegg puts it thus: ‘What these illustrations and their short descriptions will show is the way that everything we do, in everything we experience, we are witnessing and taking part in scientific phenomena, guided and linked by scientific laws. Science is not just something we do at school or that professionals undertake in laboratories, it is at the heart of how everything works.’

Following each large illustration are close-up labelled sections taken from it, every one accompanied by a paragraph in which Clegg succinctly describes the relevant phenomenon (P) or law (L)


I really wish I’d had this book when I was studying science at school for it makes complicated principles/ laws easy to understand, something that spending hours every week in a physics or chemistry lab, failed to do: nobody even tried bringing in a bicycle pump and relating it to Boyle’s Law for instance.

Of course you don’t have to work your way straight through this book section by section. There are lots of ways to enjoy it: you might take one law illustrated in a section and then search for other examples throughout the book. You could use something that sparks your interest as a jumping off point for further research using other sources. Alternatively some might enjoy spending ages poring over just one of the large scenes, each of which has a different colour or hue.

The potential audience for this unusual book is wide – from KS2 through to adult and it’s most definitely one to add to a family collection as well as those of primary and secondary schools.

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