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

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Overview

Why do golf balls have dimples?
How does an iPod turn binary digits into Bon Jovi?
How do microwave ovens cook?
How does a pitcher make a curveball curve and a knuckleball jitter?
Why don't you fall off an upside-down roller coaster?

If one didn't know better, one might think the world was filled with magic—from the household appliances that make our lives easier to the devices that fill our world with sounds and images. Even a simple light bulb can seem mysterious when you're clueless about the science behind it.

Now in How Everything Works, Louis Bloomfield takes you inside the amazing gizmos and gadgets that are part of the fabric of our everyday life, explaining the physics that makes them work. Examining everything from roller coasters to radio, knuckleballs to nuclear weapons, How Everything Works reveals the answers to such questions as why the sky is blue, why metal is a problem in microwave ovens, how MRIs see inside you, and why some clothes require dry cleaning.

You don't need a science or engineering background to understand How Everything Works. All you need is an active curiosity about the extraordinary world all around you. Remarkably clear and always fascinating, How Everything Works is nothing short of a user's manual for our everyday world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Books on how things work often adopt a format that gives equal space to each device described. So the flush toilet, say, might get the same number of words devoted to it as the internal-combustion engine, even though the latter is far more complicated. In How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary, Louis Bloomfield avoids that trap by taking just as long as he needs to explain 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 Chemical Physics" and so forth. The result is something of a cross between those familiar (and often less-than-satisfying) how-it-works guides and a full-blown physics textbook.

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

Bloomfield also shows excellent judgment about how far to dive in. (One exception here is his cursory treatment of magnetic resonance imaging, a technology that is admittedly very difficult to explain in anything other than a superficial manner.) His section on the microwave oven, for example, helped me finally to understand how a cavity magnetron works. Bloomfield also straightened me out on the difference between a turbojet engine (above, right) and a turbofan engine (left), a distinction I hadn't at all appreciated. And he even clued me in on why the front fork of a child's bike isn't curved forward. All but the most hard-core technophile should find many similar moments of enlightenment in this 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: 346,738
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

No one is better at making physics come to life than Louis Bloomfield. Widely recognized for his teaching of physics and science to non-science students at the University of Virginia, Professor Bloomfield is the co-host of the Discovery Channel television show “Some Assembly Required,” premiering 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 Units.

Glossary.

Photo Credits.

Index.

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