The Handy Physics Answer Book / Edition 2

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Answers more than eight hundred questions about physics, ranging from everyday life applications to the latest explorations in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

National Science Teachers Association
If you wondered about one physics idea a day, this resource would answer your questions for over two years . . . Every aspect of our daily life is governed by physics, so this is an extremely useful . . . resource.
From the Publisher
"The author does a good job explaining technical concepts simply. Answers are in plain nontechnical English, and formulas and jargon are kept to a minimum. This second edition will find its place with other popular physics books." —"Booklist" (July 6, 2011)
From the Publisher

"If you wondered about one physics idea a day, this resource would answer your questions for over two years . . . Every aspect of our daily life is governed by physics, so this is an extremely useful . . . resource."  —National Science Teachers Association

"It is often not only convenient, but necessary, to have at hand a reference guide to answer basic questions regarding physics. This book does that and more. This is a great book for anyone." —National Science Teachers Association

"The author does a good job explaining technical concepts simply. Answers are in plain nontechnical English, and formulas and jargon are kept to a minimum. This second edition will find its place with other popular physics books." —Booklist (July 6, 2011)

"The Handy Physics Answer Book is geared toward the general audience but still of value to the scholar. Recommended." —Christian Library Journal (November 1, 2011)

"[D]istills complicated physics concepts into bite-size explanations in question-and-answer format. The text is clear and easy to understand." —

VOYA - Marilyn Brien
This title in the Your Smart Reference series is primarily a reference for readers seeking particular information. The emphasis on practical applications of the principles of physics, including bridges, golf balls, lasers, calories, and electrical outlets, make this book a good selection for questions related to physics in the real world. A listing of all of the Nobel Prize winners is particularly unique. The many diagrams inform the reader with uncluttered clarity. The organization of topics follows the expected divisions of physics with selected questions within the categories of motion, statics, fluids, waves, magnetism, and particle physics. The concluding chapter considers unanswered questions in particle physics and astrophysics, including the Standard Model and dark matter. The bibliography is particularly useful for locating further information on the physics of various sports and arts, and 21st-century physics. The boring small black-and-white photos will not encourage a student to browse, nor is the student likely to select this book without encouragement. This book will be a helpful reference for librarians, teachers, and with encouragement, for youth of all levels. Reviewer: Marilyn Brien
Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
If your physics questions are specific, such as "What is Energy?" or "What is the difference between a dead load and a live load?" this book will work for you. Or if you want to page through and find answers to questions you did not know you had, this book will also work for you. The question and answer series is effective and clearly written. While it is not any better than the best of the answers available on the Internet, it does have the advantage of being consistently accurate and available when the Internet is not. Zitzewitz's other advantages are his ability to explain complex physics in plain language, and explain everyday phenomena in terms of physics. For example: "Why does a singing duet sometimes sound as if there were a third voice contributing to the music? When two people sing loudly at slightly different pitches the frequencies can mix, causing a different tone or third pitch. ..."This book will be welcomed in the classrooms of middle school and high school, as well as a reference in libraries. Backmatter includes glossary and index. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
Library Journal
This question-and-answer guide provides brief explanations suitable for quick reference and curious browsers. With a useful list of symbols and glossary. (SLJ 6/1/11)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Modeled on P. Erik Gundersen's 1998 edition, this thoroughly revised set offers a broad view of physical principles and how they are applied in technology and everyday life and to our current understanding of the universe. Gathered into general chapters such as "Momentum and Energy," "Electricity," and the subatomic realm ("At the Heart of the Atom"), the more than 800 questions cover topics from simple machines to quarks and from Newton's Laws to why the word "Ambulance" is printed backwards on the vehicles. Though they are usually detailed enough to satisfy older, serious students, some answers are oversimplified—the author's discussion of "weightlessness" includes a misleading claim that a gravitational field's force can fall to zero with distance, for instance. Also, answers to specific questions tend to be clearer than those to more subjective ones such as, "Are nuclear power plants safe?" Though Zitzewitz occasionally admits that scientists continue to be baffled by some phenomena, he underplays gaps in knowledge by relegating a limited set of "Unanswered Questions" to the end of the book. Furthermore, though the presentation is occasionally lightened with, for instance, a discussion of a unit of caloric measurement called the Jelly Doughnut, the overall tone's dryness is only reinforced by a spare selection of small black-and-white photos and gray breakout boxes. Too scattershot to support systematic study and unlikely to keep the attention of casual browsers, this title may have trouble finding an audience.—John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578593057
  • Publisher: Visible Ink Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Series: The Handy Answer Book Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition, Second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 450
  • Sales rank: 941,919
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul W. Zitzewitz, PhD, taught physics at the University of Michigan–Dearborn for more than 35 years and has been honored as a Fellow of the American Physical Society for his work in physics education. He is the author of the high school physics textbook Physics: Principles and Problems. He lives in Northville, Michigan.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

Bibliography 323

Symbols 327

Glossary 331

Index 359

The Basics 1


Careers in Physics

Famous Physicists

The Nobel Prize

Motion and its Causes 25

Force and Newton's Laws of Motion

Momentum and Energy 55



Statics 83

Center of Gravity


Bridges and Other "Static" Structures

Fluids 95

Water Pressure

Blood Pressure

Atmospheric Pressure

Sinking and Floating: Buoyancy

Fluid Dynamics: Hydraulics and Pneumatics


The Sound Barrier

Supersonic Flight

Thermal Physics 117

Thermal Energy

Temperature and Its Measurement

Absolute Zero

States of Matter



Waves 137

Water Waves

Electromagnetic Waves

Communicating with Electromagnetic Waves

Putting Information on Electromagnetic Waves


The Principle of Superposition



The Doppler Effect


NEXRAD Doppler Radar

Radio Astronomy

Sound 165

Speed of Sound


Ultrasonics and Infrasonics

Intensity of Sound


Musical Acoustics

Noise Pollution

Light 187

The Speed of Light

Polarization of Light

Opaque, Transparent, and Translucent Materials






Fiber Optics

Diffraction and Interference






Electricity 231

Leyden Jars and Capacitors

Van de Graaf Generators


Safety Precautions

Current Electricity



Ohm's Law

Electric Power and Its Uses



Series/Parallel Circuits

Electrical Outlets

Magnetism 261


Electromagnetic Technology

Magnetic Fields in Space

What is the World Made of? 273

At the Heart of the Atom 289

Unanswered Questions 309

Beyond the Proton and Neutron

Entanglement, Teleportation, and Quantum Computing

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