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Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed

Overview

"Assume the cow is a sphere." So begins this lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples (like the cow as sphere, which illustrates the principle of simplifying the world in order to explain it), Fear of Physics nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is essentially a very human intellectual endeavor. An internationally known
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Fear of Physics

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Overview

"Assume the cow is a sphere." So begins this lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples (like the cow as sphere, which illustrates the principle of simplifying the world in order to explain it), Fear of Physics nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is essentially a very human intellectual endeavor. An internationally known theoretical physicist, as well as for many years the very popular teacher of a "physics for poets" class at Yale University, Lawrence M. Krauss shows how simple ideas at the heart of physics can be built upon to develop the very theories that drive modern research. The book proves that physics can be accessible, exciting, and enjoyable even to those who shamefully wear the scarlet letters SI ("scientifically illiterate"). The key to understanding, according to Krauss, is not to learn more names and facts but to learn how physicists think. Among the topics treated are how to handle the "art" of numbers, how physicists define truth, how and when to plagiarize creatively, and much more. At the same time, this witty and engrossing book provides new and valuable insights even for confirmed scientific junkies. Fear of Physics takes readers on a joy ride from Galileo to Stephen Hawking, from Plato to Marshall McLuhan, through new presentations of original classics and into subjects so current that they have never before been discussed in the popular literature. Fear of Physics is must reading for anyone who has ever wanted to understand where modern physics is coming from and where it is going.
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Editorial Reviews

Christian Science Monitor
Fear of Physics is perhaps the first major work to successfully convey how physicists think. It's fun to follow along.
Washington Post Book World
A splendid book for those who...want to tour the forefront of theoretical physics with a lively and inventive mind.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Krauss ( Cosmic Strings ), who teaches physics at Yale University, delivers a three-part lecture for lay readers on today's dominant research questions in theoretical physics. In six broad-ranging chapters with such titles as ``The Art of Numbers'' and ``The Search for Symmetry,'' he examines and explains ``the tools that guide physicists in their work.'' The accomplishments and views of such giants of modern physics as Einstein, Feynman and Heisenberg are used to illustrate the inventiveness required of those in the field. While Krauss acknowledges that this is a limited selection of ideas--the ``hidden realities'' of physics, not its stuff--he nonetheless serves quantum mechanics well. Also well-served are the interests of the general reader as Krauss, persistently hewing to the basics, never falls into patronization or catchy metaphor. Supplemented by Larry Gonick and Art Huffman's The Cartoon Guide to Physics , this is a primer on the wonders of physics. Library of Science selection. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In describing ``the flavor of physics'' and how physicists ``do'' and have ``done'' physics, this short, charming, quick-paced book conveys the joy of ``making new connections'' in the physical world. Aiming his book at the nonscientist, the author hopes to give readers their own insight into the wonder associated with the art of physics and the symmetry and hidden realities of the world. Krauss, a professor of theoretical physics at Yale University who teaches a course called Physics for Poets, insistently reminds readers that physics is a part of ``our cultural experience,'' a part of who we are and even that we are. Highly recommended.-- Diane M. Fortner, Univ . of California Lib., Berkeley
Booknews
An easy-to-read, accurate discussion of the ideas of physics and how physicists invent new ones. Witty and informative. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465002184
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/4/2007
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 461,234
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence M. Krauss is Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University. He is the only physicist to have received the top awards by the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. I Process
Ch. 1 Looking Where the Light Is 3
Ch. 2 The Art of Numbers 27
Pt. II Progress
Ch. 3 Creative Plagiarism 57
Ch. 4 Hidden Realities 103
Pt. III Principles
Ch. 5 The Search for Symmetry 145
Ch. 6 It Ain't Over Till It's Over 181
Notes 200
Index 201
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