Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 82%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $4.99   
  • New (7) from $26.13   
  • Used (14) from $4.98   


Archimedes to Hawking takes the reader on a journey across the centuries as it explores the eponymous physical laws—from Archimedes' Law of Buoyancy and Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Hubble's Law of Cosmic Expansion—whose ramifications have profoundly altered our everyday lives and our understanding of the universe.
Throughout this fascinating book, Clifford Pickover invites us to share in the amazing adventures of brilliant, quirky, and passionate people after whom these laws are named. These lawgivers turn out to be a fascinating, diverse, and sometimes eccentric group of people. Many were extremely versatile polymaths—human dynamos with a seemingly infinite supply of curiosity and energy and who worked in many different areas in science. Others had non-conventional educations and displayed their unusual talents from an early age. Some experienced resistance to their ideas, causing significant personal anguish. Pickover examines more than 40 great laws, providing brief and cogent introductions to the science behind the laws as well as engaging biographies of such scientists as Newton, Faraday, Ohm, Curie, and Planck. Throughout, he includes fascinating, little-known tidbits relating to the law or lawgiver, and he provides cross-references to other laws or equations mentioned in the book. For several entries, he includes simple numerical examples and solved problems so that readers can have a hands-on understanding of the application of the law.
A sweeping survey of scientific discovery as well as an intriguing portrait gallery of some of the greatest minds in history, this superb volume will engage everyone interested in science and the physical world or in the dazzling creativity of these brilliant thinkers.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this pleasingly accessible book, inventor/author Clifford Pickover lifts 40 classic scientific laws from the textbooks and places them in the human contexts in which they were created. The names of many of his scientist subjects are forever hallowed: Newton, Kepler, Faraday, Curie, Heisenberg, Hubble, and Planck; but Pickover portrays these deep thinkers as real individuals who were often forced to battle their own demons. A smooth read for history of science enthusiasts.
From the Publisher
Listed in Mathematical Reviews

"Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." — Christian Science Monitor

"The ploymathic Clifford Pickover discusses 'landmark laws of nature that were discovered over several centuries and whose ramifications have profoundly altered our everyday lives and understanding.'" — Kendrick Frazier, Skeptical Inquirer

"A perpetual idea machine, Clifford Pickover is one of the most creative, original thinkers in the world today." — Journal of Recreational Mathematics

"The incomparable Clifford Pickover has written another rich science narrative that t once informs and entertains. There is no one writing today with such an encyclopedic knowledge of all things scientific, and Archimedes to Hawking covers the gamut of what is arguably the most important topic in all of science - the laws of nature. Are they discovered or invented? Do they correspond to things out in the world or only to thoughts inside our heads? These and numerous other tantalizing questions are answered as Pickover takes us through a brief history of nearly everything in the universe (and the universe itself)." — Michael Shermer, Skeptic

"A ride through the history of world-changing scientific ideas. Pickover pays homage to the great minds who have laid bare the mathematical machinery whirring just beneath the skin of reality. An impressively researched tour de force." —Marcus Chown, author of The Quantum Zoo

"Clifford Pickover has brilliantly succeeded in a monumental task. He has explained, in his usual lucid style, some forty of the greatest laws of physics, and sketched the lives and often eccentric personalities of the geniuses who discovered them. Pickover's pages reflect his vast knowledge of physics and his firm conviction that mathematics has an awesome external reality." —Martin Gardner, author of The Colossal Book of Mathematics

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195336115
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/16/2008
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 631,399
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Clifford A. Pickover is the author of forty books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, religion, medical mysteries, and science fiction. Pickover is a prolific inventor with over forty patents, is the associate editor for several journals, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults. He lives outside New York City.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2008

    From Archimedes to Hawking and Everyone Between

    From Archimedes to Hawking and Everyone Between This is Dr. Pickover's first scientific book since his A Beginner's Guide to Immortality and The Mobius Strip writings of 2006. After over a year of pursuing science fiction, the author has provided us with a work that was worth waiting for. This is his best yet. Archimedes to Hawking is no dry listing of scientific laws. Yes, it does have the important laws of science and the runners-up which Pickover generously calls the 'Great Contenders.' The reason that the book runs to five hundred pages is that Pickover describes the lives and works of the lawgivers. These are not just people who showed up. Their biographies show that they worked at it. 'Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.' Although the illustrations appear to be more for decoration than explanation, some are quite stunning. I particularly liked Bode's Virgo and Hooke's Flea, even if they have nothing to do with the laws named for those two. More illustrations like those would have been nice. The author's approach is interesting. The laws are arranged chronologically. Archimedes is the first, but we have to skip almost two millennia to the Renaissance to find the next. The Industrial Revolution then brings the bulk of the science. There is very little past the turn of the twentieth century. Only three of the scientists named in this collection are still alive. Perhaps we have stopped naming scientific laws after people because we regard the laws of nature more as discovery than personal invention, or maybe it is that we are so expectant of future refinements that we now distrust the concept of the immutable law. The geography of the lawgivers is mostly European. The bulk of the laws are attributed to French, English, and German physicists and chemists. Americans are fourth in number, but only if you include the runner-up category. Although Pickover is not a physicist by training, he shows that he understands the thought process of the physicist. He shows their quest for understanding of the principles of the universe, the search for the beauty and symmetry of nature. Even more, Pickover has learned to think like a physicist. Pickover gives a rational explanation for his inclusion of works in the great laws and the runner-up categories. Many people may be surprised to find that Maxwell's Equations do not have a chapter of their own but share the Faraday chapter, while relatively obscure works are included, even one of the runners-up that mentions my name. Pickover explains that the individual laws that make up Maxwell's Equations were developed by other people: Ampere, Faraday, Gauss. For a book like this it is necessary to make choices. The author explains his reasoning in a convincing manner. You may argue with his choices, but I think that if he errs, it is mostly on the side of inclusion, not exclusion. I do not think that you have to be a physicist or chemist to appreciate this book, but some formal science training may help you to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of the equations. I see this book becoming a standard reference work for those who study the physical sciences or the history of science. Or you may just like it for the joy of the science and the history.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Clifford Pickover does it again.

    Pickover, as usual, has done a bang-up job. It covers a wide range of knowledge, be it physics, chemistry and even short biographies of the greats since Archimedes. Formulae are provided for the cognoscenti, yet well-written enough to satisfy the casual reader.

    I gave this book to a retired research physicist, who can be very punctilious, and he was amazed at the breadth of knowledge and so error free.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)