Book:The Science of Discworld

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The Science of Discworld
Cover by Paul Kidby
Co-author(s) Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen
Illustrator(s) Paul Kidby
Publisher Ebury Press
Publication date 1999
ISBN 0091865158
Pages 434
RRP £16.99
Main characters
Series Science books
Annotations View
All data relates to the first UK edition.


In the fantasy universe of the phenomenally best-selling Discworld series, everything runs on magic and common sense. The world is flat and million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten. Our world seems different – it runs on rules, often rather strange ones. Science is our way of finding out what those rules are. The appeal of Discworld is that it mostly makes sense, in a way that particle physics doesn't.

The Science of Discworld uses the magic of Discworld to illuminate the scientific rules that govern our world. When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic.

Roundworld is, of course, our own universe. With us inside it (eventually). Guided (if that's the word) by the wizards, we follow the story from the primal singularity of the Big Bang to the Internet and beyond. We discover how puny and insignificant lives are against a cosmic backdrop of creation and disaster. Yet, paradoxically, we see how the richness of a universe based on rules has led to a complex world and at least one species that tried to get a grip on what was going on...


Paul Kidby's cover illustration is based on the 1768 painting "An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" by Joseph Wright, in which a natural philosopher uses a pump to remove air from a glass container containing a white cockatiel, with onlookers showing a variety of reactions.

Major Characters

Minor Characters



The 2002 and later editions include revisions to the science material to reflect "three years of scientific progress...forwards or backwards". In addition, two of the original fiction chapters (29 and 33) were split up to create space for two entirely new science chapters about cosmic disasters (chapter 32) and the life of dinosaurs (chapter 36).


First Edition cover by Paul Kidby
Book Proof
Audio CD
Updated Cover
Cover by Josh Kirby
US Cover

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