Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.
Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.
I received a free copy of this book in PDF format from the author. I wasn't explicitly told to give a review in return, but I'm doing it anyway because I figure it's the nice/polite thing to do.
Grand Unification and the New Look of the Atom is actually two short stories that seek to explain concepts of physics ("Grand Unification": E-comets and the universe; "The New Look of the Atom": How atoms are structured).
I had a little trouble actually understanding if this was supposed to be tales describing some process of physics, or if these physics processes were incorporated into science fiction. So that explains something if my shelves are all messed up for this.
I really liked "Grand Unification" and I think Smith did a great job describing the complexity of the universe. I also like the way he sets up and tells this story: through a planetarium scientist, one who is more like a regular non-scientist (in that he's not so great at formal sciences or even physics itself), to us as we go through an exhibit in the planetarium meant to explain the Big Bang and other questions about the creation of the universe. Instead, we get Norbert explaining e-comets, or how the universe is made up of little non-existent pockets (or something; I'm not as great at explaining it, to be honest).
I will admit that the entire "your scientists" bit was a little irritating. Is Norbert an alien? Why is he referring to the scientists of the world as only ours and not his? He also came across as a little condescending at times.
As for "The New Look of the Atom," I found it to be a tad overcomplicated for something I find to be so simple (the structure of an atom). The metaphor was too complicated to fully get the picture until the very end and so I thought it ended up being a wasted learning opportunity. I didn't really enjoy that part.
Overall, I think this book is a short, quick and easy to understand explanation about certain aspects of physics, but if you're more used to scientific articles and in-depth, non-metaphorical, non-fable-styled looks at science, then this book may be too -- I don't want to say juvenile, but that's all I can think of -- for you. I can definitely see people reading it to their kids (not toddlers, of course!) in the hopes of promoting a love for science.