World Book Day: physics in literature

23 Apr 2021

This World Book Day, submerge yourself into the world of physics with these 5 book recommendations, including Tim Radford's brilliant manifesto, Black Quantum Futurism's approach to experiencing reality and Ursula K. Le Guin's utopian fiction built around the discovery of a physics theory.

The Consolations of Physics: Why the Wonders of the Universe Can Make You Happy, by Tim Radford

The Consolations of Physics: Why the Wonders of the Universe Can Make You Happy is an eloquent manifesto for physics. From the Voyager mission to the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Tim Radford, science editor of the Guardian for twenty-five years, takes the reader on a journey of human inventiveness. Along the way, we come across a diversity of thinkers such as St Augustine, Dante and Boethius, the Roman thinker who wrote The Consolation of Philosophy, from which Radford takes several of his cues. You can read a review of The Consolations of Physics by James Gillies in CERN Courier here.

Quantum, Exhibition Catalogue

The international touring exhibition Quantum/Broken Symmetries began at Collide International, the flagship residency programme of Arts at CERN in collaboration with FACT Liverpool between 2016 and 2018. The exhibition brings together artists who participated in residencies at CERN to advance their artistic practice in connection with fundamental science and by establishing dialogues with physicists, engineers, and staff. Quantum showed artworks produced by these exchanges and supported by the art commissions programme. The exhibition was co-produced by ScANNER (Science and Art Network for New Exhibitions and Research): CCCB, Le Lieu Unique, FACT and CERN. You can get the exhibition catalogue here


Authors: Mónica Bello, José-Carlos Mariátegui, José Ignacio Latorre, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Marcelo Gleiser, Nell Tenhaaf

Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice Vol 1

Black Quantum Futurism is a Philadelphia-based artistic collective formed by Camae  Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips, who received the last Collide Award. In this book, the collective introduces Black Quantum Futurism as a new approach to living and experiencing reality through the manipulation of space-time to see into possible futures. This vision and practice derive from quantum physics, futurist traditions, and Black/African cultural traditions of consciousness, time, and space. 


Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice Vol 1 features visions by Rasheedah Phillips, Moor Mother Goddess, Warren C. Longmire, Almah Lavon, Joy Kmt, Thomas Stanley, PhD, and Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani, PhD. You can get the book here.

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed is a 1974 utopian science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. It tells the story of Shevek, a physicist from Annares— an anarchist society that has been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great inequality, and immense wealth. The story is built around Shevek's discovery of the General Temporal Theory, who is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust.

Big Bang, by Irène Jacob

Irène Jacob, known for her role in the film The Double Life of Véronique, is the daughter of Maurice Jacob, a French theoretical physicist who was head of CERN’s Theory Division in the 1980s. In her novel Big Bang, Jacob brings together two simultaneous and essential events: the death of her father and the birth of her child, telling a universal story of the human condition. You can read a review of Big Bang by James Gillies in CERN Courier here.

Cover image John Latham, Five Sisters Bing, 1976 © John Latham Estate, courtesy Lisson Gallery, London