Collapse Volume V, 225–290


Alien Science (Interview)


One of the most fertile collaborations in contemporary popular science writing began with a biologist and a mathematician meeting for lunch at a Coventry pub in 1990. Combining their prodigious knowledge of contemporary science, the unique partnership between Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart has spawned a series of popular science books remarkable in their scope, epistemological subtlety and conceptual innovativeness. To read ‘Jack&Ian’ is to embark upon an exhilarating and intellectually enriching ride through the thickets of contemporary scientific thinking and emerge with a profound sense of how it all interconnects. Their combined critical perspective brings much-needed clarity to popular science memes such as ‘emergence’, ‘chaos’ and ‘complex systems’, and they can be relied upon never to neglect the ‘big picture’. In our interview, Cohen and Stewart recount the history of their ‘complicit’ collaboration, discuss the significance of the novel ideas proposed in their co-authored works, explain their criticisms of reductionism, anthropic reasoning and astrobiology, and tell us about the aliens who helped them to write their books…