Contents iii (2/2) – Science Mysteries Explained

introduction
Humans are curious creatures. For thousands of years, we’ve looked at the stars, the sea, the earth beneath
our feet, and the other creatures we share this planet with and thought: What gives? For thousands of
years, we told each other fanciful stories about how the Earth was created, and how and why the things in
it interact. Then, just a few short centuries ago, we came up with a new idea, a new way of describing the
world: science.
Science is how we come to understand everything around us in a way that’s consistent and sensible. But
science is anything but straightforward. In fact, sometimes it seems to just raise an endless series of
questions!
Hopefully, then, this book will give you some of the answers to those questions. We’ve chosen some of the
biggest or most vexing questions in science and answered them in a way that’s clear and straightforward.
After each question, we’ve written a short paragraph that explains the question in a little more detail.
Then we give you a short answer, so you can get a quick sense of what you’re in for (especially useful in the
Cosmology section)! Then the full answer is supported by illustrations that will make everything crystal
clear, and you the font of all knowledge among your friends!
Because science encompasses, well, everything, we’ve split the book into easily digestible chunks, as follows:
Earth Science
Everything about the planet beneath us. What the Earth is made of, how it formed, and what its ultimate fate
might be. From earthquakes to ice caps, climate change to volcanoes and why our day is 24 hours long.
Life Science
We live on the only life-bearing world … as far as we know. So what makes life alive? Where did it come from,
and where is it going? How does evolution really work, and why can’t we make our food from the Sun like
plants? All this and more!
Chemistry
You might dimly remember from schooldays the Periodic Table of Elements, or something about molecules
and chemical bonds. Here, it’s all explained—how atoms connect to each other and store energy in those
connections, and how that simple idea makes the whole world work!
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Cosmology
Most of everything is out there, in deep space, being all weird and ridiculously huge and far away. The
universe might not be infinite, but it’s so huge we might as well say it’s infinite. If you have questions about
stars, moons, planets, and more, this is the place to find answers.
Physics
The laws of nature are powerful, but do you know them as well as you should? Is it even possible to go back
in time to take those classes all over again? From surviving lightning strikes to floating in the ocean to being
swallowed by a black hole—the answers are all found in physics.
Special Thanks to the Technical Reviewer
Idiot’s Guides: Science Mysteries Explained was reviewed by an expert who double-checked the accuracy
of what you’ll learn here, to help us ensure this book gives you everything you need to know about these
mysteries of science. Special thanks are extended to Nicholas Reid.