Worlds of David Darling

Since 1984 I've written about 50 books on science, technology, and philosophy for both adults and children. Below, these books are listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent, Megacatastrophes! (published in 2012); the children's books are listed at the end. New and/or used copies of all these books are available through Amazon by clicking on the links provided. Various foreign language editions are available including German, Italian, Japanese, South Korean, Russian, Polish, and Norwegian. Please contact me if you have trouble getting hold of a particular title.

We Are Not Alone cover We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Found Extraterrestrial Life (OneWorld Publications, 2010)
From the jacket: Boldly argues that extraterrestrial life is astrobiological fact. Far from existing light-years away in the outer reaches of space, it's on our very doorstep. For persuasive evidence of microbial life, we need look no further than our celestial neighbor, Mars. Probing the latest scientific research, this groundbreaking book provides compelling reasons to believe that extraterrestrial life is rife in the Solar System and beyond. Co-authored with astrobiologist Dirk-Schulze-Makuch.

"Interesting, accessible, and refreshingly upbeat." – Seth Shostak, SETI Institute

"Well written, concise and elegant. I was barely able to put it down." – Felisa Wolfe-Simon, Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University

"Well written and provocative." – New Scientist

"A compelling landmark book that will take you on an exhilarating ride." – Daily Express
Gravity's Arc cover Gravity's Arc: The Story of Gravity from Aristotle to Einstein and Beyond (Wiley,2006)
From the jacket: How did one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived retard the study of gravity for 2,000 years? How could an eccentric professor shake the foundations of an entire belief system by dropping two objects from a tower? And how could a simple patent clerk change our entire view of the universe by imagining himself riding on a beam of light?

In Gravity's Arc, you'll discover how some of the most colorful, eccentric, and brilliant people in history first locked, then unlocked the door to understanding one of nature's most essential forces. You'll find out why Aristotle's misguided conclusions about gravity became an unassailable part of Christian dogma, how Galileo slowed down time to determine how fast objects fall, and why Isaac Newton erased every mention of one man's name from his magnum opus Principia. You'll also figure out what Einstein meant when he insisted that space is curved, whether there is really such a thing as antigravity, and why some scientists think that the best way to get to outer space is by taking an elevator.

Darling provides a strikingly readable explanation for the complex phenomena at the cutting edge of contemporary physics. Beginning with the ancient Greeks' ruminations on the nature of the physical world and concluding with a forecast for where physics is headed, Darling uses a conversational tone and narrative storytelling to coax readers through the finer points of dark energy and dark matter, string theory, inflationary universes, black holes and wormholes. Darling's done an admirable job of making physics palatable to a general audience. – Publisher's Weekly
Teleportation cover Teleportation: The Impossible Leap (Wiley, 2005)
From the jacket: An authoritative, entertaining examination of the ultimate thrill ride. Until recently the stuff of science fiction and Star Trek reruns, teleportation has become a reality – for subatomic particles at least. In this eye-opening book, David Darling follows the remarkable evolution of teleportation, visiting the key labs that have cradled this cutting-edge science and relating the human stories behind its birth. He ties in the fast emerging fields of cryptography and quantum computing, tackles some thorny philosophical questions (for instance, can a soul be teleported?), and asks when and how humans may be able to "beam up."

A science fiction staple and a fantasy of those with long commutes, teleportation has long seemed likely to remain a fictional construct. But as Darling explains in this marvelous work, teleportation in one form or another has been happening in laboratories for a few years and is on its way to becoming a routine part of life – at least for information. Darling uses lively prose to explain such heady subjects as quantum mechanics, the property of entanglement (which Einstein referred to as "spooky action at a distance") and information theory. While these concepts appear to fly in the face of reason, the author is able to make sense of them and put them in the context of other new ideas that at first may be impossible to accept. After tracing the history of developments that became key to teleportation, the text delves into its use for secret communications, massive parallel data processing and investigating quantum mechanics; it also examines the moral, spiritual and philosophical questions that will arise if "beaming" people up ever becomes possible. – Publishers Weekly
Universal Book of Mathematics cover The Universal Book of Mathematics (Wiley, 2004; Chartwell Books, 2009)
From the jacket: What makes a number weird, and why, as far as anyone can tell, aren't weird numbers odd? What do monsters, moonshine, and 24-dimensional oranges have in common? Why couldn't Sam Loyd get a patent for his famous fifteen puzzle? What is the significance of the statement "the smallest number not nameable in under ten words"? Can one infinity be larger than another?

If you are fascinated by the weird, the odd, the curious, and the just plain puzzling, it's no wonder that you’re drawn to mathematics. And, if you can't resist the urge to indulge these fascinations – and discover plenty of new ones while you're at it – welcome to The Universal Book of Mathematics.

This unique, one-stop, A-to-Z resource is packed with more than 1,800 entries that cover everything from nuts–and–bolts math to the most arcane unsolved theorems, from profiles of notable mathematicians to intriguing puzzles, challenging games, and even math humor.

Universal Book of Astronomy cover The Universal Book of Astronomy (Wiley, 2003)
Darling has created a first-rate resource for readers and students of popular astronomy and general science. Unlike The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy – which is excellent but really written as a textbook for observers – The Universal Book is a true encyclopedia, with over 3000 alphabetically arranged entries covering history, biography, celestial objects, cosmological phenomena, and more. Some entries are brief, providing good, simple definitions of terms readers may encounter in books and articles geared toward the amateur astronomer. Other entries, when the topics warrant, provide more in-depth information and photos or illustrations. This work addresses all the subdisciplines of astronomy, as would a less-expensive dictionary of astronomy, but offers more detail and fills the information gaps that exist in many skywatchers' field guides. – Library Journal
Complete Book of Spaceflight cover The Complete Book of Spaceflight (Wiley, 2002)
From the jacket: A commanding encyclopedia of the history and principles of spaceflight – from its humble beginnings to its likely future. The Complete Book of Spaceflight compiles more than 3,000 extensively cross-referenced entries, spanning every historic milestone and technological achievement in the quest to conquer space. In this all-inclusive reference, Darling provides fascinating insights into the cultural development of spaceflight, including its history, science, and technology; the people involved; spaceflight’s role in popular culture; and much more. The Complete Book of Spaceflight includes:
  • All key missions, manned and unmanned
  • Notable fictional portrayals of space journeys
  • Biographies of astronauts, rocket engineers, and others involved in space exploration
  • Current concepts for future interplanetary and interstellar missions
  • Extended, highlighted articles on major topics from Project Mercury to Mir
Life Everywhere cover Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology (Perseus Books, 2001)
Are we alone? As the search for extraterrestrial intelligence comes more and more into the mainstream, scientists like David Darling step up to explain what we know and what's possible. His book Life Everywhere explores the history and current state of the field called, perhaps unfortunately, astrobiology. What is a living organism? Is it common, or likely, elsewhere in the universe? Is it worth trying to communicate across light years? Darling has a knack for explaining complexities and fine details that carries his prose forward where other authors have foundered; the reader is swept up in the enthusiasm of the researchers Darling describes.

Since most research germane to the field has been done here on Earth, Darling explores such hot topics as heat vents and other geothermal mini-biomes, meteoritic dissection, and, of course, SETI's radio telescope arrays. Mars, Venus, and the moons of the outer planets are all major characters, and their stories will reinvigorate most readers' excitement about the prospects of having neighbors just down the cosmic street. Ending with a set of hypotheses and brief explorations of their ramifications if shown to be true, Life Everywhere is an outstanding and thought-provoking look at what could ultimately be the most world-shaking research ever conducted. – Rob Lightner,
The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia cover The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia (Three Rivers Press, 2000)
If there's anyone not interested in the possibility of life on other planets, they must keep to themselves. Along with "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" "Am I alone?" ranks as one of the classic Big Questions asked by all curious minds. Now comes the first detailed reference book covering the search for an answer. More than 2,000 entries define and explain conceptual, fictional, theoretical, and technical thinking about exobiology, copiously referenced and cross-indexed for easy searching and browsing. Start with SETI (why not?) and after poring over the eight-page entry, you'll find yourself trying to decide whether to check out SERENDIP, Iosef Shklovskii, or the Arecibo radio telescope next.

Darling's choice of entries is telling – far from just a dry assortment of biographies and dates, you'll find 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophanes, and hydrothermal vents explored as they relate to the Big Question. Though the book has all the facts you'd need for a hundred term papers, it also acknowledges the strong cross-currents running between scientific and pop cultures, which makes for entertaining and sometimes surprising reading. (Who knew that so many serious astrophysicists wrote science fiction?) The truth may or may not be out there, but The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia will keep us current on the search. – Rob Lightner,
Zen Physics cover Zen Physics: The Science of Death, the Logic of Reincarnation (Harpercollins, 1996)
With the catapult of logic, Darling lobs a barrage of scientific data against death's door. But he – and we – never quite gain access to the ultimate mystery. The title notwithstanding, Darling's prime ammo is psychology, not physics, and Zen enters his plan only in the endgame. His main thrust involves presenting cases of amnesia, multiple personality disorder and other afflictions, as well as facts of the brain-mind connection, to demonstrate that our sense of self is not steady, as is generally supposed, but fluid, even temporally discrete. Darling then announces a not quite convincing and emotionally unsatisfying theory of "reincarnation" based on this ever-changing self, in which successive incarnations of "me" retain no personal link from one to the next. With great elegance, he next uses findings of quantum physics to show that consciousness is primary to matter. This contradicts Western scientific orthodoxy, but Darling makes a strong case. Both the fluid self and the primacy of matter accord with Buddhist principles, which is where Zen comes in. Oddly, though, Darling's idea of reincarnation seems to veer from Zen basics, as it eliminates the possibility of conscious reincarnation. Likely, readers will finish this bold brief sensing they've peeked through death's keyhole, but have not opened the door. – Publishers Weekly
Soul Search cover Soul Search (Villard, 1995)
Darling believes modern science is ultimately of limited usefulness because it fails to recognize that consciousness is an irreducible part of reality – "the ever-present 'mind' of the universe." In this intriguing speculative essay, he develops a sort of scientific pantheism positing that, with death, we move from the narrow consciousness of our highly selective, reality-filtering brain to the wider, timeless consciousness of the unbound universe. As for near-death experiences, Darling suggests that the phenomena frequently reported?a sense of bliss, travel through a tunnel, encountering a being of light?may merely be comforting projections of a dying brain. He touches on a host of topics – the Egyptian cult of the dead, neurological disorders, evolution, drug highs, mysticism, Einstein's space-time – as he explores how we develop a sense of self and time, and concepts of an afterlife. – Publishers Weekly
Equations of Eternity cover Equations of Eternity: Speculations on Consciousness, Meaning, and the Mathematical Rules That Orchestrate the Cosmos (Hyperion, 1993)
From the jacket: How and when did human intelligence evolve? Is it possible that consciousness will exist after the body has been rendered obsolete? These are the central questions Darling addresses in this mind-bending journey. Along the way the reader is treated to a stimulating discussion of evolution, the relationship between mathematics and physical reality, the genesis of the right and left brains, God, the meaning of language, and the nature of quantum physics.

"Mr. Darling provides one of the clearest and most eloquent expositions of the quantum conundrum and its philosophical and metaphysical implications that I have read recently." – New York Times

Deep Time cover Deep Time: The Journey of a Single Subatomic Particle from the Moment of Creation fo the Death of the Universe and Beyond (Delacorte, NY, 1989)
Extract from the book: "There is only one solution to that greatest of all mysteries, the origin of everything. But to understand it requires that we go on a mental journey, perhaps the most daring ever undertaken. It is a voyage into deep time, a voyage that begins with genesis and ends in the very remote future of a universe that, quite astonishingly, contrives to become aware of itself.

"This is a speculative and provocative book that extends what is known into what is unknown. It is not just another book on cosmology, of which there are many and good ones in print. The emphasis here is on wonder." – Los Angeles Times

"David Darling's Deep Time is a wonderful book, the perfect overview of the universe for any citizen who doesn't need all the details." – Larry Niven

"Brilliant." – Arthur C. Clarke
Nanotechnology front cover Beyond 2000, a series of 4 children's books (Dillon Press, NJ 1995)
This series explores remarkable adavnces in science and technology that will have a major impact – both positive and negative – on the quality and nature of our lives. Each focuses on one fast-growing area of technology. It provides readers with a scientific grounding in the field. It then examines recent breakthroughs, anticipated advances, and the social and ethical implications of these developments. Titles include:
  • Genetic Engineering: redrawing the Blueprint of Life
  • Micromachines and Nanotechnology: The Amazing World of the Ultrasmall
  • The Health Revolution: Surgery and Medicine in the Twenty-first Century
  • Computers of the Future: Intelligent Machines and Virtual Reality
Spiderwebs to Skyscrapers: The Science of Structures front cover Experiment! a series of 6 children's books (Dillon Press, NY, 1991-92)
Six topics in science, six different books explaining those topics and how children can carry out experiments and investigations of their own to discover for themselves how the world works. Glossary and index included. Titles include:
  • Making Light Work: The Science of Optics
  • Between Fire and Ice: The Science of Heat
  • Up, Up, and Away: The Science of Flight
  • Spiderwebs and Skyscraper: The Science of Structures
  • Sounds Interesting: The Science of Acoustics
  • From Glasses to Gases: The Science of Matter
Could You Ever Speak Chimpanzee? front cover Could You Ever? a series of 6 children's books (Dillon Press, 1990-91)
Each book in this series asks a challenging question and looks at the best answers that present-day science can give. A section called "The Challenge" describes the particular problem; "Hands On" suggests some practical experiments and exercises that bear upon the issue; and a glossary and index are also provided. Titles in the series include:
  • Could You Ever Live Forever?
  • Could You Ever Fly To the Stars?
  • Could You Ever Meet an Alien?
  • Could You Ever Speak Chimpanzee?
  • Could You Ever Dig a Hole to China?
  • Could You Ever Build a Time Machine?
Robots and the Intelligent Computer front cover The World of Computers, a series of 5 children's books (Dillon Press, Mpls, 1986)
From the microchip revolution to superfast supercomputers, this new series introduces young readers to The World of Computers. Explaining difficult concepts in clear, simple language, these books cover the very basics of how computers work as well as their modern day applications and possible future developments. Colorful illustrations and photographs help provide readers with a clear understanding of the topics discussed in the lively text. Every books also contains a special introductory Section, Meet the Computer, a Data Bank of facts, points for discussion, a complete glossary, suggested reading list, and index. Titles in the series include:
  • The Microchip Revolution
  • Computers at Home: Today and Tomorrow
  • Robots and the Intelligent Computer
  • Inside Computers: Hardware and Software
  • Fast, Faster, Fastest: The Story of Supercomputers
The Sun front cover Discovering Our Universe, a series of 10 children's books (Dillon Press, Mpls, 1984-85)
Jacket blurb: This series introduces young readers to the wonder and mysteries of the universe. Whatever the subject – the fate of our Earth when the Sun uses up its vast reserves of energy; the first landing of the Apollo astronauts on the Moon; how the Solar System and stars were formed; flying close by the rings of Saturn; "black holes" in space; the mysteries of far-away galaxies; or new ways of looking at our universe – these books are filled with information and ideas sure to spark the imagination. Dramatic full-color or black and white photos and drawings illustrate almost every page of the lively texts, and the "Discovery for Yourself" projects guides provide an active learning experience. The books also include a "Fast Facts" and question-and-answer section for quick reference, and a detailed glossary, suggested reading list, and index for additional aid. Titles in the series include:
  • The Sun: Our Neighborhood Star
  • The Moon: A Spaceflight Away
  • The Planets: The NExt Frontier
  • Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids: Rocks in Space
  • Where Are We Going in Space?
  • The Stars: From Birth to Black Hole
  • The Galaxies: Cities of Stars
  • The Universe: Past, Present, and Future
  • Other Worlds: Is There Life Out There?
  • The New Astronomy: An Ever-Changing Universe