A collaboration betwenn Terry Pratchett
, of Discworld
fame, and the scientists Jack Cohen
and Ian Stewart
The book follows the scope of science chronologically - from the creation of the universe to the solar system to the earth to life to evolution, plus a few interesting detours on the way.
Parallel to the discussion of "Real Life(tm)" there is an account of a magical experiment conducted by the wizards of Unseen University on the Discworld, in which they created a universe not unlike our own. Their observations and point of view on this strange universe, with round wolrds that are all either too hot or too cold, provide a rich and hilarious backdrop for the more serious parts of the book.
Without pretending to cover all of current scientific wisdom and without condescension, the book provides a solid and complrehensible account of the main trends in natural science, as well as the philosophical paradigms driving them. Even a complete luddite such as myself can come away knowing a few things, and more importantly, knowing what they don't yet know.