Drawing Physics: 2,600 Years of Discovery From Thales to Higgs

Drawing Physics: 2,600 Years of Discovery From Thales to Higgs

by Don S. Lemons

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Overview

Drawing Physics: 2,600 Years of Discovery From Thales to Higgs by Don S. Lemons

Drawings and short essays offer engaging and accessible explanations of key ideas in physics, from triangulation to relativity and beyond.

Humans have been trying to understand the physical universe since antiquity. Aristotle had one vision (the realm of the celestial spheres is perfect), and Einstein another (all motion is relativistic). More often than not, these different understandings begin with a simple drawing, a pre-mathematical picture of reality. Such drawings are a humble but effective tool of the physicist's craft, part of the tradition of thinking, teaching, and learning passed down through the centuries. This book uses drawings to help explain fifty-one key ideas of physics accessibly and engagingly. Don Lemons, a professor of physics and author of several physics books, pairs short, elegantly written essays with simple drawings that together convey important concepts from the history of physical science.

Lemons proceeds chronologically, beginning with Thales' discovery of triangulation, the Pythagorean monocord, and Archimedes' explanation of balance. He continues through Leonardo's description of “earthshine” (the ghostly glow between the horns of a crescent moon), Kepler's laws of planetary motion, and Newton's cradle (suspended steel balls demonstrating by their collisions that for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction). Reaching the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Lemons explains the photoelectric effect, the hydrogen atom, general relativity, the global greenhouse effect, Higgs boson, and more. The essays place the science of the drawings in historical context—describing, for example, Galileo's conflict with the Roman Catholic Church over his teaching that the sun is the center of the universe, the link between the discovery of electrical phenomena and the romanticism of William Wordsworth, and the shadow cast by the Great War over Einstein's discovery of relativity.

Readers of Drawing Physics with little background in mathematics or physics will say, “Now I see, and now I understand.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262535199
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 04/13/2018
Series: The MIT Press
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 370,616
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Don S. Lemons is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Dedications and Acknowledgments xiii

Antiquity 1

1 Triangulation (600 BCE) 2

2 Pythagorean Monochord (500 BCE) 5

3 Phases of the Moon (448 BCE) 8

4 Empedocles Discovers Air (450 BCE) 12

5 Aristotle's Universe (350 BCE) 15

6 Relative Distance of the Sun and the Moon (280 BCE) 19

7 Archimedes's Balance (250 BCE) 23

8 Archimedes's Principle (250 BCE) 27

9 The Size of the Earth (225 BCE) 31

Middle Ages 35

10 Philoponus on Free Fall (550 CE) 36

11 The Optics of Vision (1020 CE) 40

12 Oresme's Triangle (1360) 44

13 Leonardo and Earthshine (1510) 49

Early Modern Period 53

14 The Copernican Cosmos (1543) 54

15 The Impossibility of Perpetual Motion (1586) 58

16 Snell's Law (1621) 62

17 The Mountains on the Moon (1610) 66

18 The Moons of Jupiter (1610) 70

19 Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion (1620) 74

20 Galileo on Free Fall (1638) 78

21 Galileo on Projectile Motion (1638) 82

22 Scaling and Similitude (1638) 86

23 The Weight of Air (1644) 90

24 Boyle's Law (1662) 94

25 Newton's Theory of Color (1666) 100

26 Free-Body Diagrams (1687) 104

27 Newton's Cradle (1687) 108

28 Newtonian Trajectories (1687) 112

29 Huygens's Principle (1690) 116

30 Bernoulli's Principle (1733) 121

31 Electrostatics (1785) 125

Nineteenth Century 131

32 Young's Double Slit (1801) 132

33 Oersted's Demonstration (1820) 137

34 Carnot's Simplest Heat Engine (1836) 141

35 Joule's Apparatus (1847) 145

36 Faraday's Lines of Force (1852) 150

37 Maxwell's Electromagnetic Waves (1865) 155

Twentieth Century and Beyond 159

38 Photoelectric Effect (1905) 160

39 Brownian Motion (1905) 164

40 Rutherford's Gold Foil Experiment (1910) 168

41 X-rays and Crystals (1912) 173

42 Bohr's Hydrogen Atom (1913) 177

43 General Relativity (1915) 182

44 Compton Scattering (1923) 186

45 Matter Waves (1924) 190

46 The Expanding Universe (1927-1929) 194

47 The Neutrino and Conservation of Energy (1930) 198

48 Discovering the Neutron (1932) 202

49 Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion (1942) 206

50 Global Greenhouse Effect (1988) 211

51 Higgs Boson (2012) 216

Afterword 221

Notes 223

Bibliography 231

Index 237

What People are Saying About This

Robert C. Hilborn

Don Lemons's delightful Drawing Physics takes us from Heraclitus to Higgs, from planets to particle physics, from astronomy to atoms, with the aid of simple diagrams—a neglected set of cultural artifacts in the history of science. Literate, accurate, and accessible, Drawing Physics is a gem.

From the Publisher

Brilliant! In one place, 51 unforgettable drawings.From Pythagoras to the Higgs boson, the essence of a year course in physics.

Reuben Hersh, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New Mexico; coauthor of The Mathematical Experience, winner of the National Book Award, 1983

What a great project! Science books are normally illustrated by captioned line drawings. Don Lemons reverses the procedure: After selecting some of the most compelling drawings from the vast literature of physics he illuminates them with explanatory essays. But his comments aren't mere captions. They reach out into science history, correct popular misconceptions, uncover fresh anecdotes, and point out hidden connections. In short, they flesh out the images with meaning.Open the book and see for yourself: Lemons draws you in.

Hans Christian von Baeyer, Chancellor Professor of Physics emeritus, College of William and Mary; author of QBism: The Future of Quantum Physics

Don Lemons's delightful Drawing Physics takes us from Heraclitus to Higgs, from planets to particle physics, from astronomy to atoms, with the aid of simple diagrams—a neglected set of cultural artifacts in the history of science. Literate, accurate, and accessible, Drawing Physics is a gem.

Robert C. Hilborn, Associate Executive Officer, American Association of Physics Teachers; author of Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineer

Endorsement

Don Lemons's delightful Drawing Physics takes us from Heraclitus to Higgs, from planets to particle physics, from astronomy to atoms, with the aid of simple diagrams—a neglected set of cultural artifacts in the history of science. Literate, accurate, and accessible, Drawing Physics is a gem.

Robert C. Hilborn, Associate Executive Officer, American Association of Physics Teachers; author of Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineer

Reuben Hersh

Brilliant! In one place, 51 unforgettable drawings.From Pythagoras to the Higgs boson, the essence of a year course in physics.

Hans Christian von Baeyer

What a great project! Science books are normally illustrated by captioned line drawings. Don Lemons reverses the procedure: After selecting some of the most compelling drawings from the vast literature of physics he illuminates them with explanatory essays. But his comments aren't mere captions. They reach out into science history, correct popular misconceptions, uncover fresh anecdotes, and point out hidden connections. In short, they flesh out the images with meaning.Open the book and see for yourself: Lemons draws you in.

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