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  • Published: 13 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9781804991961
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $24.99

Blue Machine

How the Ocean Shapes Our World




Earth is home to a huge story that is rarely told - that of our ocean. Not the fish or the dolphins, but the massive ocean engine itself: what it does, why it works, and the many ways it has influenced animals, weather and human history & culture. This is the spectacular story of Earth's dynamic ocean.

FINANCIAL TIMES 2023 HIGHLIGHT

'Helen Czerski weaves together physics and biology, history and science, in a beautifully poetic way.'
Professor Alice Roberts

'In Helen Czerski's hands, the mechanical becomes magical. An instant classic.'
Tristan Gooley, author of How to Read Water

'Blue Machine is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read.'
Dr George McGavin, zoologist, entomologist and broadcaster

'A fascinating dive into the essential engine that drives our world. Czerski brings the oceans alive with compelling stories that masterfully navigate this most complex system.'
Gaia Vince, science journalist, broadcaster and author of Nomad Century


All of the Earth's ocean, from the equator to the poles, is a single engine powered by sunlight - a blue machine.

Earth is home to a huge story that is rarely told - that of our ocean. Not the fish or the dolphins, but the massive ocean engine itself: what it does, why it works, and the many ways it has influenced animals, weather and human history & culture.

In a book that will recalibrate our view of this defining feature of our planet, physicist Helen Czerski dives deep to illuminate the murky depths of the ocean engine, examining the messengers, passengers and voyagers that live in it, travel over it, and survive because of it. From the ancient Polynesians who navigated the Pacific by reading the waves to permanent residents of the deep such as the Greenland shark that can live for hundreds of years, she explains the vast currents, invisible ocean walls and underwater waterfalls that all have their place in the ocean's complex, interlinked system.

Timely, elegant and passionately argued, Blue Machine presents a fresh perspective on what it means to be a citizen of an ocean planet. The understanding it offers is crucial to our future. Drawing on years of experience at the forefront of marine science, Helen Czerski captures the magnitude and subtlety of Earth's defining feature, showing us the thrilling extent to which we are at the mercy of this great engine.

  • Published: 13 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9781804991961
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Helen Czerski

Helen Czerski was born in Manchester. She is a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at University College London. As a physicist she studies the bubbles underneath breaking waves in the open ocean to understand their effects on weather and climate.

Helen regularly presents BBC programmes on physics, the ocean and the atmosphere – recent series include Colour: The Spectrum of Science, Orbit, Operation Iceberg, Super Senses, Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, as well as programmes on bubbles, the sun and our weather. She is also a columnist for Focus magazine, shortlisted for PPA columnist of the year in 2014, and has written numerous articles for national newspapers. Helen is the author of the bestselling Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life.

She lives in London.

Also by Helen Czerski

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Praise for Blue Machine

Praise for Helen Czerski: Her enthusiasm is infectious

Jim Al-Khalili

Helen Czerski's absorbing Storm in a Teacup stands head and shoulders above other popular science books.

Irish TImes

Blue Machine is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Helen Czerski is a consummate storyteller ... in places you'll drift serenely among corals or dense kelp forests, in others you'll ride Atlantic breakers or fear for your life in a tropical storm ... When you resurface, you will be bursting with enthusiasm and wonder and you'll understand how the ocean works and more besides.

Dr George McGavin, zoologist, entomologist and broadcaster

Awash with fascinating facts. Helen Czerski writes with authority, passion and an easy conversational style . You will want to be out there on the ice and ocean with her. I loved it.

Hugh Aldersey-Williams, author of Tide

In Helen Czerski's hands, the mechanical becomes magical. An instant classic.

Tristan Gooley, author of How to Read Water

Blue Machine is one of the best and most entertaining science books I've read in a very long time. I have worked on the ocean for more than 30 years and I could tell within a few pages that Blue Machine would change the way I think about it forever. Helen is an experienced science communicator with a talent for explaining the complex physics of the ocean in an understandable and very entertaining way. I must say I would never have made the connection between the rich Humboldt Current in the pacific Ocean off Peru and farming turnips in Britain, just one of many anecdotes. The reader is left with the impression of a churning, dynamic ocean, powered by the sun, controlling our weather and changing human destinies. What a treat for ocean lovers, anyone interested in how the world works or for someone just looking for a captivating read.

Prof. Alex Rogers, Science Director REV Ocean and author of The Deep

Helen Czerski weaves together physics and biology, history and science, in a beautifully poetic way. Fascinating, funny and deeply moving. From vast currents and tides to the smallest creatures that inhabit our oceans she reveals the spellbinding wonder of the oceans. From the opening paragraph, I was entranced.

Professor Alice Roberts

Helen Czerski weaves together physics and biology, history and science, in a beautifully poetic way. Fascinating, funny and deeply moving. From vast currents and tides to the smallest creatures that inhabit our oceans she reveals the spellbinding wonder of the oceans. From the opening paragraph, I was entranced.

Professor Alice Roberts

A fascinating dive into the essential engine that drives our world. Czerski brings the oceans alive with compelling stories that masterfully navigate this most complex system.

Gaia Vince

In this captivating and urgently-needed book, Czerski weaves a wonderful, watery spell, entwining spectacular science with poetic awe as she expertly guides readers through the workings of a vast, unfamiliar world. Moving and thrilling, The Blue Machine tells us about the seas but also makes us care: an epic love story that captures the ocean's beating heart.

Jo Marchant, author of Cure and The Human Cosmos

JUNE BOOK OF THE MONTH: 'Physicist Helen Czerski offers a very different perspective on the ocean in her revelatory book... Published ahead of World Ocean Day on 8th June, it unlocks a treasure chest of enthralling stories; from the navigators of ancient Polynesia, and the marvels of plankton, to John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and the copious tears cried by turtles.

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

BOOK OF THE WEEK: This beautifully written, sweeping guide shows how the deep movement of the seas have ruled our lives in unexpected ways over millennia.

Tom Whipple, The Times

I love Helen Czerski's writing, and this is her richest work yet - as clear as springwater, yet as filled with fascinating things as the ocean itself.

Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live and Humanly Possible

A dazzle of stories beautifully told...Czerski argues throughout that to truly see the miraculous oceans, to understand and to feel our connection to them, is vital and integral to our history and our future. Her outstanding book advances that understanding and honours that connection. Her readers will see the seas anew.

Horatio Clare, Telegraph

Helen Czerski's fascinating new book casts the ocean as an extraordinary giant engine, and helps us grasp its complex physicsand its key role in climate change

Graham Lawton, New Scientist

Lively and engrossing ... Alongside her vivid portrayal of waters sliding over one another, colliding, mixing andturning into ice or water vapour, she explains how the living beings within the sea alsoform part of the 'blue machine' ... [Cerzski's personal experience of both Polynesian canoes off Hawaii and ice floes near the North Pole is not icing on the cake but part of the argument of this excellent and important book.

David Abulafia, The Spectator

A spectacular read.

Martin Chilton, Independent

This brilliantly organised account of it will change the way you see the world, and its colossal oceanic expanses. There is indeed a great blue engine, regulating the circulatory systems of our home world. It is, as Czerski puts it, the beating heart of the planet.

Jon Turney, Arts Desk

'Czerski is a wonderful writer. Most scientists could give you a handful of fascinating facts about their subject, no doubt, but few can string them together into such a compelling and elegantly written story, or convey complex ideas and novel perspectives with a few vivid phrases. Blue Machine really does change the way you see the world.'

Christopher Hart, Daily Mail

[Czerski's] profound, sparkling global ocean voyage mingles history and culture, natural history, geography, animals and people.

Andrew Robinson, Nature

'Czerski aims to greatly expand and even revolutionise the reader's understanding of what is going on in seven tenths of the planet that is not covered in land

Financial Times

The world needs a 'David Attenborough for physics' and Helen Czerski is a prime contender - she's brilliant, clear, passionate, modern and inspiring.

Emma Freud, BBC Radio 4 Loose Ends

The Blue Machine is a point of departure, a map for further exploration. Not since reading The Diversity of Life by E.O. Wilson have I read a book as timely, salient, and informative.

Todd L. Capson, Science magazine

Riveting.... The cultural history fascinates.... Wide-ranging and meticulously detailed, this captures the wonder, beauty, and intrigue of its subject.

Publisher's Weekly

The Blue Machine is a point of departure, a map for further exploration. Not since reading The Diversity of Life by E.O. Wilson have I read a book as timely, salient, and informative.

Todd L Capson, Science

Selected for 2023 Science Books of the Year: Helen Czerski’s eminently readable book is a reminder of the importance of the seas from the battles of ancient Rome to the wars over ancient bird poo, and how once that light goes back into the lifelessness of space it does so with a blue tinge.’

The Times

Splendid

Philip Ball, Guardian