Please excuse the self-promotion, though hopefully the subject matter may be of interest to WUvies. For the past two years I've been busy researching and writing another book, and it finally went on sale last week, published by Macmillan
. I give you Psychedelic Apes: From parallel universes to atomic dinosaurs – the weirdest theories of science and history
The book is an exploration of some of the craziest ideas that lurk at the fringes of both science and history. While I don't endorse these ideas, I didn't exactly set out to debunk them either. After all, I have a very high tolerance for, and fascination with, weirdness. Mostly I wanted to understand what the case was for each of them, and why some seemingly intelligent, knowledgeable researchers (quite a few of them leaders in their fields) not only convinced themselves that these ideas could be true, but in many cases passionately defended them — sometimes at great cost to their careers and reputations.
I also wanted to keep an open mind because the history of science is, to a great degree, a history of ideas that were initially dismissed by scholars as being totally nuts (such as heliocentrism, evolution, continental drift, etc.) eventually being accepted as true. But yes, I do explain why the majority of scholars reject the hypotheses I examine in the book.
The chapter list:
- What if the Big Bang never happened?
- What if our universe is actually a computer simulation?
- What if there’s only one electron in the universe?
- What if we’re living inside a black hole?
- What if we live forever?
- What if the Earth is at the centre of the universe?
- What if planets can explode?
- What if our solar system has two suns?
- What if ten million comets hit the Earth every year?
- What if the Earth is expanding?
- What if everything is conscious?
- What if diseases come from space?
- What if the Earth contains an inexhaustible supply of oil and gas?
- What if alien life exists on Earth?
- What if we’ve already found extraterrestrial life?
- What if the dinosaurs died in a nuclear war?
- What if our ancestors were aquatic apes?
- What if we’re descended from a pig–chimp hybrid?
- What if hallucinogenic drugs made us human?
- What if humanity is getting dumber?
- What if ancient humans were directed by hallucinations?
- What if Homer was a woman?
- What if Jesus was a mushroom?
- What if Jesus was Julius Caesar?
- What if the Early Middle Ages never happened?
The topics progress from cosmological questions about the origin and nature of the universe, up through the origin of life and our species, and ends with the dawn of the modern era. So in addition to being a catalog of "against-the-mainstream" ideas, the book offers a kind of alternative history of the cosmos. In the following weeks, I'll post fuller descriptions of some of these topics.
Unfortunately, the book is currently only on sale in the UK and (I believe) Australia. For whatever reason, the Brits have been much more receptive to my books than Americans have been. I have no idea if, or when, an American edition will be coming out. But an audio edition should be available soon. Some places it can be purchased online:
If you're a blogger interested in obtaining a review copy, drop me a line. I may be able to arrange that. Though I can't make any promises.
All the best for a happy and healthy New Year from Alex, Paul and our partners!
As we approach the tenth anniversary of Weird Universe (founded mainly due to the genius and initiative of Chuck Shepherd, July 2008), Alex and I had the notion that newcomers might not have seen many of our past posts that were deserving of their amused attentions. Therefore, we are going to occasionally repost an oldie-but-goodie, bannered with a special header to identify it. We hope that even if you have been with us since the beginning, you will enjoy these reruns, which, of course, will not diminish our schedule of two new posts each and every day.
Just more weirdness for your enjoyment!
WU-vie GES comments: "I've sent many stories to Chuck over the years, several of which he has included on NOTW. Where can I send them now? Is there some way of getting them posted in WU?"
Certainly Alex and I would appreciate reader tips, and possibly use them somehow, in singleton posts. So keep sending them to the email addresses in the sidebar. But neither of us have plans at the moment to try to match the weekly ineffable efforts of Chuck.
Naturally, when Chuck informed Alex and me earlier of his decision to retire, we were heartbroken--just as all of his readers are showing themselves to be.
And yet, once the dust of that explosive announcement settled, Alex and I realized--just as all of his readers must--that Chuck's long, invaluable, joyous service would remain forever an inspiration, and that no one deserved more accolades and more congratulations and more good wishes for a long and fruitful post- NOTW lifetime than he did! So, Chuck, please consider those warm feelings and congratulations delivered in spades!
Of course, after all this, Alex and I still faced the question of whether to keep Weird Universe going. We decided to give it a go, for as long as readers keep coming and seem to enjoy what we do.
The blog has not been diminished by one-third, but by more like fifty percent, with Chuck's departure. So I guess Alex and I will just have to try to fill those large shoes to some degree.
Thanks to one and all--but most of all, to Chuck, whose idea it was to do Weird Universe in the first place!
If you happen to be up really late on Saturday night (Apr 1), you can listen to me discuss the history of April Fool's Day on Coast to Coast AM
. I'll be on from 11 pm to 1 am, west coast time. So 2-4 am east coast.
I used to be a nightowl, but those days are long in the past. So it's going to be a challenge for me to stay awake and remain coherent that late. I'm going to take a nap Saturday afternoon to prepare, and have plenty of coffee on hand.
Fellow WU-vies--it appears that thanks to the help-line persistence and technical prowess of Alex, we are now able to make new posts from scratch. The ones you saw this weekend--when the site wasn't down--were old ones from the queue which the glitchy software somehow still allowed us to bring live.
In any case, here's to at least another eight years of smooth operation. For your patience, a bonus re-jiggered cartoon of the kind I post regularly on my Facebook page.
When I started researching my latest about.com article
, I figured that most of the alleged cases of people hit by flying cows were probably urban legends. But now I've concluded that, although there is one famous flying-cow urban legend (involving a Japanese fishing boat being sunk by a cow falling out of the sky), people actually do get hit by flying cows pretty regularly.