~~Moved from GR~~
The Einstein Paradox
And Other Science Mysteries Solved by Sherlock Holmes
by Colin Bruce
An incredibly entertaining read, Bruce deftly weaves together the characters from Conan Doyle with complex concepts from physics. Although I think Bruce does a good job using allusion and metaphor to try to explain the principles of quantum, as someone not familiar with relativity or quantum, I found some of it rather difficult to absorb. It was also a little difficult to marry the Victorian world of Sherlock Holmes with theories such as the Many-Worlds theory that are currently under debate today. There is an inherent anachronism in using Holmes to explain theories that depend on observations that were made far after Holmes' time.
To try to handle these issues, and since the stories of Holmes aren't always a good fit for very scientific cases, Bruce alternates between a new character, Doctor Summerlee, and stories featuring Doyle's other famous character, Professor Challenger. In fact, Challenger is the main character in over half the stories. I'm not particularly fond of Challenger in Doyle's works, so perhaps this was another reason why I found the stories slightly less enjoyable than Conned Again, Watson: Cautionary Tales Of Logic, Math, And Probability. The other reason is probably that Holmes fails to solve almost all of the cases; instead, the scientists around him tend to have the insights. Call me a rabid fan, but I'd prefer for The Great Man in the role of the analyst and Watson in the role of awestruck observer. However, Challenger, as a mad scientist and ego-maniacal theorist, was a fantastic fit for these stories, and I really think Bruce manages to capture both Challenger and Holmes' peculiar flair. I also love the idea of using Holmes to explain science--I think it is truly a fantastic fit. After all, Holmes has some truly terrific things to say about the importance of data and observation. I think fans of Challenger and/or popsci physics will adore this book.