The prolific science writer offers another illuminating education on many scientific phenomena. “It would be impossible to cope with the world,” writes the author, “if we didn’t have patterns…that inform us of how to deal with, say, an apple or a light switch, so that we don’t have to start from scratch each and every time.” After proposing this theme, Clegg delivers 10 isolated essays on topics ranging from the recognizable (DNA, periodic table) to the arcane (number lines, Feynman diagrams). Teachers traditionally portray evolution as a tree; a primitive life form, the trunk, evolves into numerous, more complex organisms, the thinner branches. In reality, this is not what happens. The “branches” often thicken, double back, and become simpler. Fifty years ago, biologists offered a more accurate description in the form of a cladogram, which merely shows in what order a species split from a common ancestor. This works even when scientists haven’t found that ancestor. Regarding more cosmic matters, Clegg shows that while everyone can picture length, width, and depth, three of Einstein’s four dimensions, adding time seems nonsensical. Enter Einstein’s math professor, Hermann Minkowski, who developed an ingenious diagram that shows how time and space are related and inseparable. After the Big Bang, the universe was so hot that only charged particles such as protons and electrons existed. Charged particles absorb photons (i.e. light), so the early universe was dark. After 380,000 years of expansion and cooling, most charged particles combined to form electrically neutral atoms. Suddenly photons could travel, and the cosmos filled with light. These light photons expanded and cooled along with the universe, and today, 13.8 billion years later, they shine from everywhere as the cosmic microwave background. First detected in 1964, they reveal the earliest structures of the universe. This is not TV science; Clegg presents difficult concepts—e.g., infinity is not a number; genes form only a trivial part of a chromosome—but there are satisfying rewards to science-inclined readers. Ingenious, often complex insights from an expert.