Robert Harris's new novel of this title is based on the truth that brilliant physicists now work in the financial worls, in which phenomenally powerful computers trade (though it isn't really trading) with each other. To judge the speed, consider that 19.4 billion shared were traded on 6 May 2010 - more than were traded in he whole of the 1960s. We have the most powerful computers and human minds creating a kind of cyber chaos-theory model, which has taken on a life of its own to all intents and purposes - it is out of human control, Harris argues.
In Harris's own words: "This then is the financial world in which we now live: ... A world in which thousands of the most brilliant minds on the planet are paid not to pursue scientific progress [many of the physicists were made redundant from the USA's particle accelerator], but to devise financial strategies that are mostly non-productive and sometimes highly dangerous." I think he may mean financially non productive, but I prefer the plain meaning of what I have quoted. He must mean financially dangerous. This trading cannot directly hurt us - only indirectly as all the £ is sucked towards the rich and powerful while millions lack the very basics of survival.