The Magicians

The Magicians

The central magic of science is that mathematical formulae scrawled across a piece of paper or a blackboard or a whiteboard can predict the existence of things previously unsuspected that, when people go and look, they find actually exist in the real universe. The magic is so miraculous that even the proponents of science can scarcely believe it: that the real universe has a mathematical twin that mimics it in every way. Famously, in fact, Einstein did not believe two predictions of his own theory of gravity: black holes and the big bang.

This is the story of the magicians who, with pen and paper, not only predicted the existence of unknown worlds, black holes and subatomic particles but antimatter, invisible waves that course through the air, ripples in the fabric of space–time and many more things besides. This is the story of the central magic of science and how it has made gods of men.


  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication date: February 20, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-0571346387
  • One of the best-written books about physics I have ever come across. Highly enlightening.

    Popular Science

  • Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish… Marcus Chown has done it again.

    BBC Sky at Night Magazine

  • The real pleasure of Chown’s book is to see how recondite physics can be fascinating, life-enhancing entertainment. It’s magic.

    Prospect Magazine

  • There is something seductive about well-written popular science. Chown’s highly entertaining and accessible book leads us through a seemingly magical realm in which ferociously clever and persistent boffins predict the existence of unbelievable things.

    The Irish Times

  • I read The Magicians with great enjoyment and appreciation. I loved the insight, the humour, and how peopled the book is with intense, passionate personalities, each determined in his quest, mocked for his conviction – also his prediction – until later, another equally intense boffin drops by and proves him true. They should all have been christened Cassandra. A thoroughly informative and entertaining read.

    Anna Burns, Winner of Man Booker Prize for “Milkman”

  • A graceful read. Chown does have a good knack for explaining science and you might find this book useful for all ages as you not only get a bit of history of the scientists but their theories as well. Read and learn.


  • An excellent popular science book. Not actually about magicians; about how brilliant minds predict things from theory, which are then seen years later. Recommended.

    Dara Ó Briain