Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything

Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything

by Margaret Wertheim

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For the past fifteen years, acclaimed science writer Margaret Wertheim has been collecting the works of "outsider physicists," many without formal training and all convinced that they have found true alternative theories of the universe. Jim Carter, the Einstein of outsiders, has developed his own complete theory of matter and energy and gravity that he demonstrates with experiments in his backyard,-with garbage cans and a disco fog machine he makes smoke rings to test his ideas about atoms. Captivated by the imaginative power of his theories and his resolutely DIY attitude, Wertheim has been following Carter's progress for the past decade.

Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation. Today, theoretical physics has become mathematically inscrutable, accessible only to an elite few. In rejecting this abstraction, outsider theorists insist that nature speaks a language we can all understand. Through a profoundly human profile of Jim Carter, Wertheim's exploration of the bizarre world of fringe physics challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802778734
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 861,060
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer with degrees in physics and matchematics. She has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian, and is the author of Pythagoras' Trousers and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. In her pioneering work in new methods of science communication, she founded the nonprofit Institute For Figuring, through which she organized the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, a touring exhibition at the intersection of science and art.
Margaret Wertheim is a science writer and commentator, who is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. She's the author of Pythagoras' Trousers and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. Wertheim also has written TV documentaries, including the Catalyst series and PBS's Faith and Reason. She is the founder and director of the Institute For Figuring, an organization devoted to expanding the public understanding of science in innovative and creative ways.

Table of Contents

Chapter 0 A Trailer Park Owner Imagines the World 1

Part 1 Outsider Science

Chapter 1 Under the Hood of the Universe 15

Chapter 2 Counterpart Universes "Excisting" 39

Chapter 3 A Budget of Paradoxes 74

Part 2 Jim's World

Chapter 4 There's Diggers, and There's Everyone Else 103

Chapter 5 The Four Sexes 127

Chapter 6 Circlon Science 137

Chapter 7 Smoke Rings 164

Chapter 8 Creating the World 187

Chapter 9 Gravity and Levity 214

Part 3 Sciences of Imaginary Solutions

Chapter 10 A Reformation of Science? 233

Chapter 11 Swimming Physicists 257

Afterword: Tree Rings 281

Postscript 285

Appendix 294

Acknowledgments 305

Notes 307

Bibliography 315

Index 321

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