How Everything Works: Making Physics out of the Ordinary / Edition 1

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Key in two minutes on your microwave, and your popcorn mysteriouslycooks. Press a button on your iPod, and you suddenly hear music.Turn a dial on your air conditioner and your sweltering bedroombecomes habitable.

When you stop to think, the ordinary technologies and naturalphenomena all around us can seem quite extraordinary. Today’scars, computers, copy machines and other technologies may appear tooperate according to some dark, unseen magic. But the truth is,fundamental physics principles can explain how every technologyworks––no matter how jaw dropping or complex.

Now with Louis Bloomfield’s How Everything Works,you can get inside the seemingly inexplicable gizmos and gadgetsthat are part of the fabric of your everyday life, and understandthe physics that makes them work. An acknowledged expert on physicsas it applies to everyday life, Bloomfield uses fascinating and funexamples, along with a unique ability to explain challengingconcepts, to bring the subject of physics to life.

As How Everything Works examines everything from rollercoasters to radio, and knuckleballs to nuclear weapons, it providesthe answers to such questions as why the sky is blue, why metal isa problem in microwave ovens, and why some clothes require drycleaning.

Filled with intriguing insights, How Everything Works isnothing short of a user’s manual for our everyday world. Evenif you’re not the kind of person who typically likes to takethings apart to see what makes them work, you soon will be.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Books on how things work often adopt a format that gives equalspace to each device described. So the flush toilet, say, might getthe same number of words devoted to it as the internal-combustionengine, even though the latter is far more complicated. In HowEverything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary, LouisBloomfield avoids that trap by taking just as long as he needs toexplain things. And that's exactly what he does, explain things,his chapters having such titles as "Things That Involve Light,"Things That Move With Fluids, "Things That Involve ChemicalPhysics" and so forth. The result is something of a cross betweenthose familiar (and often less-than-satisfying) how-it-works guidesand a full-blown physics textbook.

Although Bloomfield demonstrates considerable knowledge aboutthe history of science and technology, his aim is clearly toexplain how things work rather than how they were developed. Thushis treatment of the transistor very appropriately jumps straightto the field-effect transistor, which is fairly easy to understand,without first explaining its more complex predecessor, the bipolartransistor.

Bloomfield also shows excellent judgment about how far to divein. (One exception here is his cursory treatment of magneticresonance imaging, a technology that is admittedly very difficultto explain in anything other than a superficial manner.) Hissection on the microwave oven, for example, helped me finally tounderstand how a cavity magnetron works. Bloomfield alsostraightened me out on the difference between a turbojet engine(above, right) and a turbofan engine (left), a distinction I hadn'tat all appreciated. And he even clued me in on why the front forkof a child's bike isn't curved forward. All but the most hard-coretechnophile should find many similar moments of enlightenment inthis delightfully informative book.—David Schneider

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470170663
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/24/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 576,303
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis A. Bloomfield is Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia. He also works extensively with professional societies and the media to explain physics to the general public.  Bloomfield received his Ph.D. from Stanford and was a postdoctoral fellow at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Widely recognized for his teaching of physics and science to non-science students at the University of Virginia, Bloomfield is the recipient of a 1998 State of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award and the 2001 Pegram Medal of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society. He is the author of almost 100 publications in the fields of atomic clusters, autoionizing states, high-resolution laser spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, computer science, and general science literacy, and of the successful introductory textbook How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 3rd Edition (Wiley 2006).  Bloomfield is the co-host of a new Discovery Channel television show called Some Assembly Required that will premiere in the fall of 2007.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Things That Move.

Chapter 2. More Things That Move.

Chapter 3. Mechanical Things.

Chapter 4. More Mechanical Things.

Chapter 5. Things Involving Fluids.

Chapter 6. Things That Move With Fluids.

Chapter 7. Thermal Things.

Chapter 8. Things That Work With Heat.

Chapter 9. Things with Resonances and Mechanical Waves.

Chapter 10. Electric Things.

Chapter 11. Magnetic and Electromagnetic Things.

Chapter 12. Electronic Things.

Chapter 13. Things That Use Electromagnetic Waves.

Chapter 14. Things That Involve Light.

Chapter 15. Optical Things.

Chapter 16. Things That Use Recent Physics.

Chapter 17. Things That Involve Materials.

Chapter 18. Things That Involve Chemical Physics.

Appendix A: Relevant Mathematics.

Appendix B: Units, Conversion of Uints.


Photo Credits.


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