The Nature of Science: An A-Z Guide to the Laws and Principles Governing Our Universe

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Wilmington, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 2003 Hardcover New 0618319387. FLAWLESS COPY-AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY, WHY WAIT? --464 pages; clean and crisp, tight and bright pages, with no ... writing or markings to the text. --DESCRIPTION: Today science literacy-knowing how the world works, from the microscopic level to the farthest reaches of space-is more important than ever, but finding all the essential information in one place can be a daunting task. Enter The Nature of Science, the ultimate science handbook for the home, explaining in everyday terms the two hundred overarching laws, principles, and mechanisms that make sense of the physical world. Cloning; black holes; Fermat's last theorem; genetic drift; the inflationary universe; Newton's laws of motion; string theories. With lively writing and whimsical analogies, science popularizer James Trefil leads a remarkable A-Z tour through the discovery, significance, and workings of the universe's major laws. Here are some two hundred essays on grand theories, such as Ke Read more Show Less

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Overview

Today science literacy - knowing how the world works, from the microscopic level to the farthest reaches of space - is more important than ever, but finding all the essential information in one place can be a daunting task. Enter The Nature of Science, the ultimate science handbook for the home, explaining in everyday terms the two hundred overarching laws, principles, and mechanisms that make sense of the physical world.
Cloning; black holes; Fermat's last theorem; genetic drift; the inflationary universe; Newton's laws of motion; string theories. With lively writing and whimsical analogies, science popularizer James Trefil leads a remarkable A-Z tour through the discovery, significance, and workings of the universe's major laws. Here are some two hundred essays on grand theories, such as Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Mendel's laws of genetics, and on more familiar phenomena, such as how airplanes fly and how polarized sunglasses work. Abundant cross-references make it easy to follow a law's connections across different fields, revealing a web of unifying theories that span the smallest cell and the largest galaxy. Timelines in each essay further spell out the evolution of each law, while biographical sidebars on scientists showcase the often quirky tales of discovery - the human stories behind nature's laws.
From atomic theory to Zeno's paradox, The Nature of Science makes understanding science a pleasure. For those who are familiar with the Big Bang (but maybe not the Big Crunch or the Big Splash), this book is essential reading - a key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A physics professor (George Mason Univ.) and science popularizer (The Edge of the Unknown: 101 Things You Don't Know About Science and No One Else Does Either), Trefil has compiled a concise A-to-Z encyclopedia of the laws of nature, broadly defined, and how they have developed in relation to one another. His introduction itself is a gem, explaining how science progresses through observation, experimentation, and hypothesis testing. Each two- to four-page article explains a scientific concept (variously called a principle, theory, effect, or law) or a defining experiment in physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, biology, or mathematics. Entries start with a one-sentence statement of the concept, followed by an explanatory essay that sets forth its importance and provides context. Many of the entries include biographical sketches of scientists as sidebars, and they all give a time line of cross references that essentially serves as a mini-course on the concept's development. Additionally, a chronology listing all of the entries is included as an appendix, allowing the reader to trace discoveries across disciplines through time, and a section called "Rear View Mirror" considers the discarded theories and missteps of science. Approximately half of the 200-plus entries are classified as physics, which could be attributed either to the author's background or to the centrality of this science and its suitability to being defined by equations. Trefil's personal interjections convey a sense of his enthusiasm and of the dynamic nature of science into the present day. Unfortunately, whether from sloppy editing or the author's need to simplify for lay readers, there are noticeable, niggling errors throughout (for example, there are 20, not 21, amino acids). However, this work can still be usefully employed in high school, public, and undergraduate libraries.[This was previously published in the U.K. as Cassell's Laws of Nature: A-Z of Laws and Principles Governing the Workings of Our Universe.-Ed.]-Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618319381
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/14/2003
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 7.14 (w) x 9.43 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

James Trefil, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University, is the author or coauthor of more than thirty books, including The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi
Introduction vii
Preface xxix
The Laws 1
Accelerated Motion, equations of 2
Acid Rain 6
Acids and Bases, theories of 8
Allen's Rule 11
Ampere's Law 12
Angular Momentum, conservation of 14
Animal Territoriality 15
Anthropic Principle 16
Antibiotics, resistance to 18
Antiparticles 20
Archimedes' Principle 22
Argon, discovery of 23
Atomic Theory 24
Aufbau Principle 26
Avogadro's Law 28
Balance of Nature 30
Band Theory of Solids 31
BCS Theory of Superconductivity 32
Beauty Criterion 35
Bell's Theorem 36
Bernoulli Effect 39
Big Bang 41
Biot-Savart Law 43
Black Holes 45
Black-Body Radiation 48
Bohr Atom 50
Bohr Explanation 52
Boltzmann Constant 54
Boyle's Law 55
Bragg's Law 56
Brewster's Law 58
Brownian Motion 59
Carbon Cycle 61
Carnot's Principle 63
Catalysts and Enzymes 65
Cell Theory 66
Centrifugal Force 67
Chandrasekhar Limit 69
Changes of State 71
Charles's Law 73
Chemical Bonds 74
Cherenkov Radiation 77
Chronology Protection Conjecture 78
Circadian Rhythms 79
Clausius-Clapeyron Equation 80
Cloning 81
Coevolution 83
Cohesion-Tension Theory 84
Competitive Exclusion, principle of 85
Complementarity Principle 86
Complex Adaptive Systems 88
Compound Motion 89
Compton Effect 92
Copernican Principle 93
Cope's Law 95
Coriolis Effect 96
Correspondence Principle 98
Cosmic Triangle 99
Cosmological Constant 102
Coulomb's Law 104
Curie Point 106
Curie's Law 108
Dalton's Law 109
Dark Matter 110
Davisson-Germer Experiment 113
De Broglie Relation 114
Determinism 116
Deterministic Chaos 118
Differential Resource Utilization 121
Diffraction 122
Dispersion, atomic theory of 123
DNA 125
Doppler Effect 128
Drake Equation 131
Early Universe 133
Ecological Succession 135
Electrical Charge, conservation of 137
Electrical Properties of Matter 138
Electromagnetic Spectrum 140
Electron, discovery of 144
Elementary Particles 146
Equilibrium 148
Equivalence Principle 150
Evolution, theory of 151
Exponential Growth 158
Faraday's Laws of Electrolysis 160
Faraday's Laws of Induction 161
Fermat's Last Theorem 164
Fermat's Principle 166
Fermi Paradox 167
Fibonacci Numbers 169
Flame Test 170
Fourier Analysis 171
Free Electron Theory of Conduction 172
Gaia Hypothesis 173
Gauss's Law 174
Genetic Code 176
Genetic Drift 177
Germ Theory of Disease 178
Giant Impact Hypothesis 180
Glycolysis and Respiration 181
Godel's Incompleteness Theorems 184
Goldbach Conjecture 186
Graham's Law 187
Green Revolution 188
Greenhouse Effect 189
Hall Effect 191
Hardy-Weinberg Law 192
Heat, atomic theory of 193
Heat Transfer 194
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle 197
Helium, discovery of 202
Henry's Law 204
Hershey-Chase Experiment 205
Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram 207
Hooke's Law 209
Hubble's Law 211
Human Genome Project 215
Huygens' Principle 217
Ideal Gas Law 218
Immune System 219
Inflationary Universe 221
Interference 223
Josephson Effect 225
Kepler's Laws 226
Kinetic Theory 230
Kinship Selection 232
Kirchhoff-Bunsen Discovery 233
Kirchhoff's Laws 235
Lamarckianism 237
Lawson Criterion 238
Le Chatelier's Principle 240
Lenz's Law 241
"Like Dissolves Like" 242
Linear Momentum, conservation of 243
Linnaean System of Classification 244
MacArthur-Wilson Equilibrium Theory 246
Magnetic Monopoles 248
Magnetism 249
Marginal Value Theorem 251
Mass Extinctions 253
Maximum Sustainable Yield 255
Maxwell's Demon 256
Maxwell's Equations 258
Mendel's Laws 260
Michelson-Morley Experiment 262
Milankovic Cycles 264
Miller-Urey Experiment 267
Millikan Oil-Drop Experiment 269
Mimicry 271
Molecular Biology, central dogma of 273
Molecular Clock 276
Molecular Orbital Theory 278
Molecules of Life 279
Moore's Law 282
Murphy's Law 283
Mutuality, principle of 285
Nebular Hypothesis 286
Nerve Signals, propagation of 289
Newton's Law of Gravitation 291
Newton's Laws of Motion 294
Nitrogen Cycle 298
Nuclear Fusion and Fission 301
Null Hypothesis 303
Occam's Razor 304
Octet Rule 305
Oersted Discovery 306
Ohm's Law 307
Olbers' Paradox 308
"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" 309
Optimal Foraging Theory 310
Ozone Hole 311
Pauli Exclusion Principle 312
Penicillin, discovery of 314
Periodic Table 315
Period-Luminosity Relation 317
Perpetual Motion 318
Phlogiston 319
Photoelectric Effect 320
Photosynthesis 321
Planck Constant 324
Plate Tectonics 325
Predator-Prey Relationships 329
Proteins 330
Quantum Chromodynamics 332
Quantum Mechanics 334
Quantum Tunneling 336
Quarks and the Eightfold Way 338
Radioactive Decay 340
Radiometric Dating 343
Rayleigh Criterion 345
Reflection, law of 347
Relativity 348
Reproductive Strategies 352
Reynolds Number 353
Robotics, the three laws of 355
Rock Cycle 356
Rutherford Experiment 358
Rydberg Constant 360
Schrodinger's Equation 361
Shock Waves 364
Snell's Law 365
Social Darwinism 368
Species-Area Law 369
Spectroscopy 370
Spontaneous Generation 371
Standard Model 372
States of Matter 375
Steady-State Theory 376
Stefan-Boltzmann Law 377
Stellar Evolution 379
Stem Cells 382
Stern-Gerlach Experiment 383
String Theories 384
Superposition, law of 386
Surface Tension 388
Symbiosis 390
Terminal Velocity 392
Theories of Everything 393
Thermal Expansion, law of 395
Thermodynamics, first law of 396
Thermodynamics, second law of 399
Thermodynamics, third law of 402
Titius-Bode Law 404
Triune brain 407
Turing Test 409
Tyndall Effect 410
Uniformitarianism 411
Urea, synthesis of 413
Van Helmont Experiment 414
Vital Force 415
Water Cycle 416
Zeeman Effect 417
Zeno's Paradox 418
Chronology 420
Glossary 424
Index 426
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