Strangely addictive.

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[ Fri. Jul. 21. 2006 ]

By Michael Bhaskar

What We Believe But Cannot Prove
ed by John Brockman (Pocket Books, pounds 7.99)

Scientists occasionally give the impression that belief is something best left to other people. Scientists know, and, what's more, they can prove it. In this refreshing anthology, a litany of heavyweight names abandon any such pretence and let rip with startling speculations on everything from the size of the universe to the consciousness of cockroaches.

Deftly introduced by Ian McEwan, we find Richard Dawkins musing on a universal principle of evolution, Martin Rees postulating the existence of aliens, and Jared Diamond discussing when humans first arrived in the Americas. By unleashing scientists from the rigours of established method, we gain fascinating glimpses into the future of arcane disciplines few fully understand. Even if there is considerable overlap in several of the entries, there is a strangely addictive quality to the clipped essay format.