All of the Earth's ocean, from the equator to the poles, is a single-engine powered by sunlight – a blue machine.
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, The Blue Machine is one of the biggest stories ever told. 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 this complex force, showing us the thrilling extent to which we are at the mercy of this great engine.
Helen Czerski was born in Manchester. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University College London. As a physicist, she studies the bubbles generated by breaking waves in the ocean to understand their influence on weather and climate.
Helen has been a regular presenter of BBC TV science documentaries since 2011. She also hosts the Ocean Matters podcast, is part of the Cosmic Shambles network, and is one of the presenters for the Fully Charged Show. She has been a science columnist for the Wall Street Journal since 2017 and she is the author of the bestselling Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life, Bubbles: A Ladybird Expert Book, and Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works.
– Radio 4 Book of the Week
– Financial Times 2023 Highlight
– The Times 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."
– The Times
"A dazzle of stories beautifully told [...] Outstanding [...] Her readers will see the seas anew."
– Horatio Clare, Telegraph
"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
"A spectacular read."
– Martin Chilton, Independent
"Lively and engrossing [...] Alongside her vivid portrayal of waters sliding over one another, colliding, mixing and turning into ice or water vapour, she explains how the living beings within the sea also form 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
"Helen Czerski's fascinating new book casts the ocean as an extraordinary giant engine, and helps us grasp its complex physics and its key role in climate change"
– Graham Lawton, New Scientist
"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
"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