Join Robert Ehrlich on a lighthearted romp through the universe and get an intellectually exhilarating introduction to modern physics as you go! From the zany - How long a hot dog would you be? What kind of straws do they use in hell? How much hotter is the bottom of a waterfall than the top? When should you add cream to your coffee? On how big a planet could you hit a baseball into orbit? To the serious - How close could you get to Ground Zero and survive? How long has it been since the last mass extinction? How old is life on earth? How big is the universe? These bite-sized essays and cartoons entertain while they educate you about the sizes of stuff in the universe: how big, how small, how much, how far, how fast, how hot, how old - from the innards of atoms to the farthest quasars. If you ever wondered how fast you'd have to jump to survive in a falling elevator, The Cosmological Milkshake is the book for you!
This is Ehrlich's second collection of ``physics bites,'' short explications of abstruse-to-everyday concepts in the field. The author, who teaches at George Mason University, calls the ensemble ``the equivalent of an unconventional introductory course in physics.'' Encapsulating the idea of subatomic particles--or just the elusive idea of mass--in 750 words or so is a neat trick, but sometimes it's just that. These 135 breezy Q&As, most illustrated with cartoons by his son, Gary, would make ideal relief sidebars in a high school or undergrad physics text, but they do not of themselves make a book. Ehrlich's first collection of what might be called stand-up lab physics demonstrations, Turning the World Inside Out , had the same playfulness but with a purpose for teachers. In this collection he turned up the cute and weakened the fragile structure. Yet there's nothing wrong with humor in the service of science; it can even draw in readers who might otherwise fear the subject: ``Atoms, like people, can be stable or unstable.'' (July)
Similiar to his popular Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations Princeton Univ. Pr., 1990, physics professor Ehrlich's current work is a collection of short one- to two-page explanations of physical phenomena. While it is not necessary to read these lighthearted essays in any particular order, the book is arranged in five broad categories: distance, mass, temperature, speed, and time. The 135 essays cover such topics as how high you can jump, how big a water droplet can get, how heavy is light, and when you should add cream to your coffee. These clever pieces, accompanied by humorous illustrations, are clearly written and easy to understand, with a minimum of mathematics. As enjoyable as Douglas Adams's The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy 1980, this is recommended for popular science collections.-James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Denise Perry Donavin
Ehrlich calls his book a "light-hearted romp through the cosmos." Throughout his essay, on Earth and in space, this professor of physics considers more than the size of planets and galaxies. He also considers their age, speed, temperature, and other features in comparison with familiar concepts. Using analogies such as "if you fell into a noodle maker, how long a noodle would your body make," taking into consideration the water content, hollow spaces, and other factors, Ehrlich adds humor along with increased comprehensibility (sometimes) to his ordinarily difficult topics. "Far Side"-esque cartoons by Gary Ehrlich add further levity.