Today physicists and mathematicians throughout the world are feverishly working on one of the most ambitious theories ever proposed: superstring theory. String theory, as it is often called, is the key to the Unified Field Theory that eluded Einstein for more than thirty years. Finally, the century-old antagonism between the large and the small-General Relativity and Quantum Theory-is resolved. String theory proclaims that all of the wondrous happenings in the universe, from the frantic dancing of subatomic quarks to the majestic swirling of heavenly galaxies, are reflections of one grand physical principle and manifestations of one single entity: microscopically tiny vibrating loops of energy, a billionth of a billionth the size of an atom. In this brilliantly articulated and refreshingly clear book, Greene relates the scientific story and the human struggle behind twentieth-century physics' search for a theory of everything.
Through the masterful use of metaphor and analogy, The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated viscerally accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.
Radiation: What could go wrong? In short, plenty. From Marie Curie carrying around a vial of radium salt because she liked the pretty blue glow to the large-scale disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima, dating back to the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had a rich history of innovative exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters.
In this lively book, long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and nuclear energy James Mahaffey looks at each incident in turn and analyzes what happened and why, often discovering where scientists went wrong when analyzing past meltdowns. Every incident, while taking its toll, has led to new understanding of the mighty atom—and the fascinating frontier of science that still holds both incredible risk and great promise.
What does E=mc2 actually mean? Dr. Brian Cox and Professor Jeff Forshaw go on a journey to the frontier of twenty-first century science to unpack Einstein's famous equation. Explaining and simplifying notions of energy, mass, and light-while exploding commonly held misconceptions-they demonstrate how the structure of nature itself is contained within this equation. Along the way, we visit the site of one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted: the now-famous Large Hadron Collider, a gigantic particle accelerator capable of re-creating conditions that existed fractions of a second after the Big Bang.A collaboration between one of the youngest professors in the United Kingdom and a distinguished popular physicist, Why Does E=mc2? is one of the most exciting and accessible explanations of the theory of relativity.
Timeless and collectible, the lectures are essential reading, not just for students of physics but for anyone seeking an introduction to the field from the inimitable Feynman.
In The Theory of Almost Everything, Robert Oerter shows how what were once thought to be separate forces of nature were combined into a single theory by some of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Rich with accessible analogies and lucid prose, The Theory of Almost Everything celebrates a heretofore unsung achievement in human knowledge—and reveals the sublime structure that underlies the world as we know it.
This unassuming man struggled with issues relevant today, such as the threat of nuclear annihilation and the relationship of science to politics. Fleeing Fascism and anti-Semitism, Fermi became a leading figure in America's most secret project: building the atomic bomb. The last physicist who mastered all branches of the discipline, Fermi was a rare mixture of theorist and experimentalist. His rich legacy encompasses key advances in fields as diverse as comic rays, nuclear technology, and early computers.
In their revealing book, The Pope of Physics, Gino Segré and Bettina Hoerlin bring this scientific visionary to life. An examination of the human dramas that touched Fermi’s life as well as a thrilling history of scientific innovation in the twentieth century, this is the comprehensive biography that Fermi deserves.
“A modern voyage of discovery.” —Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, author of The Lightness of Being
The Higgs boson is one of our era’s most fascinating scientific frontiers and the key to understanding why mass exists. The most recent book on the subject, The God Particle, was a bestseller. Now, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll documents the doorway that is opening—after billions of dollars and the efforts of thousands of researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland—into the mind-boggling world of dark matter. The Particle at the End of the Universe has it all: money and politics, jealousy and self-sacrifice, history and cutting-edge physics—all grippingly told by a rising star of science writing.
In The Radioactive Boy Scout, veteran journalist Ken Silverstein recreates in brilliant detail the months of David’s improbable nuclear quest. Posing as a physics professor, David solicited information on reactor design from the U.S. government and from industry experts. (Ironically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was his number one source of information.) Scavenging antiques stores and junkyards for old-fashioned smoke detectors and gas lanterns—both of which contain small amounts of radioactive material—and following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his town’s forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah.
An outrageous account of ambition and, ultimately, hubris that sits comfortably on the shelf next to such offbeat science books as Driving Mr. Albert and stories of grand capers like Catch Me If You Can, The Radioactive Boy Scout is a real-life adventure with the narrative energy of a first-rate thriller.
From the Hardcover edition.
Particle physics as we know it depends on the Higgs boson: It’s the missing link between the birth of our universe—as a sea of tiny, massless particles—and the tangible world we live in today. But for more than 50 years, scientists wondered: Does it exist?
Physicist Jon Butterworth was at the frontlines of the hunt for the Higgs at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider—perhaps the most ambitious experiment in history. In Most Wanted Particle, he gives us the first inside account of that uncertain time, when an entire field hinged on a single particle, and life at the cutting edge of science meant media scrutiny, late-night pub debates, dispiriting false starts in the face of intense pressure, and countless hours at the collider itself. As Butterworth explains, our first glimpse of the elusive Higgs brings us a giant step closer to understanding the universe—and points the way to an entirely new kind of physics.
Here is a book to lead you through the fascinating intersections of life and physics with humor and intelligence.
Find out how the laws of physics define every aspect of our lives and society, from human nature and relationships to geopolitical issues like financial markets, globalization and immigration. The Quantum Rules is a different kind of physics book, as easy to read as a novel and directly relevant for everyday life issues that affect us all. It is not meant to dazzle you with unproven speculations that have no bearing on your life. Rather, The Quantum Rules will familiarize you with the important and established laws at the heart of physics, in a way never done before – by showing how the defining patterns of our lives, our behavior and our society already follow similar rules.
Never took an interest in science before? No problem! you will still understand everything and find plenty to relate to. A scientist or a science junkie? You will find a different perspective on things you may already know. Best of all, you will discover how to have meaningful conversations about physics in a way that won’t make eyes glaze over, and in which all can gladly participate.
The Quantum Rules also does something you would never expect from a book on physics – it makes you laugh, often. Its new and original take on established natural laws injects plenty of dry humor into this serious subject, by using life to explain physics and in turn using physics to understand life.
“The amazing story of an unbelievable boy . . . The world that opens up to us through his story is both fascinating and slightly terrifying . . . but in a good way. You won’t be able to walk away from this tale.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“Imagine if cartoon whiz kid Jimmy Neutron were real and had a brainchild with MacGyver and his adolescence got told as a rollicking bildungsroman about American prodigies and DIY nuclear reactors—well, that’s this book.” —Jack Hitt, author of Bunch of Amateurs
By the age of nine, Taylor Wilson had mastered the science of rocket propulsion. At eleven, his grandmother’s cancer diagnosis inspired him to investigate new ways to produce medical isotopes. And by fourteen, Wilson had built a 500-million-degree reactor and become the youngest person in history to achieve nuclear fusion. How could someone so young achieve so much, and what can Wilson’s story teach parents and teachers about how to support high-achieving kids?
In The Boy Who Played with Fusion, science journalist Tom Clynes narrates Taylor’s extraordinary journey—from his Arkansas home, to a unique public high school just for academic superstars, to the present, when Wilson is designing devices to prevent terrorists from shipping radioactive material and inspiring a new generation to take on the challenges of science.
“Clynes guides us on an engrossing journey to the outer realms of science and parenting. The Boy Who Played with Fusion is a fascinating exploration of ‘giftedness’ and all its consequences.” —Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish and American Catch
“An essential contribution to our understanding of the most important underlying questions about the development of giftedness, talent, creativity, and intelligence.” —Psychology Today
Podcast — Building the H Bomb: A Personal History
Hosted by Milt Rosenberg (1590 WCGO), 25 June 2015
Building the H-Bomb: The Big Idea
APS News, June 2015 (Volume 24, Number 6)
Behind the Making of a Super Bomb
The Washington Post, 22 May 2015
Hydrogen Bomb Physicist's Book Runs Afoul of Energy Department
The New York Times, 23 March 2015
In this engaging scientific memoir, Kenneth Ford recounts the time when, in his mid-twenties, he was a member of the team that designed and built the first hydrogen bomb. He worked with — and relaxed with — scientific giants of that time such as Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, Stan Ulam, John von Neumann, and John Wheeler, and here offers illuminating insights into the personalities, the strengths, and the quirks of these men. Well known for his ability to explain physics to nonspecialists, Ford also brings to life the physics of fission and fusion and provides a brief history of nuclear science from the discovery of radioactivity in 1896 to the ten-megaton explosion of “Mike” that obliterated a Pacific Island in 1952.
Ford worked at both Los Alamos and Princeton's Project Matterhorn, and brings out Matterhorn's major, but previously unheralded contribution to the development of the H bomb. Outside the lab, he drove a battered Chevrolet around New Mexico, a bantam motorcycle across the country, and a British roadster around New Jersey. Part of the charm of Ford's book is the way in which he leavens his well-researched descriptions of the scientific work with brief tales of his life away from weapons.Contents:The Big IdeaThe ProtagonistsThe ChoiceThe Scientists, the Officials, and the PresidentNuclear EnergySome PhysicsGoing WestA New WorldThe Classical SuperCalculating and TestingConstructing MatterhornAcademia CowersNew Mexico, New York, and New JerseyThe Garwin DesignClimbing MatterhornMore Than a Boy
Readership: A memoir for general readership in the history of science.
Key Features:It contains real physics, clearly presented for non-specialistsCombining historical scholarship and his own recollections, the author offers important insights into the people and the work that led to the first H bombPersonal anecdotes enliven the bookKeywords:Nuclear Weapons;Atomic Weapons;H Bomb;Thermonuclear Weapons;Nuclear Physics;Nuclear History;Thermonuclear History;Los Alamos;Edward Teller;Stanislav Ulam;John Wheeler;Project MatterhornReviews:
“It was a great treat to read a book that's well-written, informative, and gets the science right. It is these personal recollections and descriptions; the fact that it is a personal and first-hand account of a unique time in history and a remarkable scientific and technical achievement that made this book so enthralling. This is an engaging account of a young scientist involved in a remarkable project.”P Andrew Karam
The Ohio State University
“Ford's book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the H bomb and its role in the Cold War, and in how that work affected the life and career of an individual involved.”Physics Today
"Personal memories are the book's greatest strength. Ford doesn't glorify, or apologize for, his work on the H-bomb. He simply tells it as it was. As a result, this is an engagingly human glimpse into the world of physics in the US in the early 1950s."Physics World
The book opens by setting nuclear physics in the context of elementary particle physics and then shows how simple models can provide an understanding of the properties of nuclei, both in their ground states and excited states, and also of the nature of nuclear reactions. It then describes: nuclear constituents and their characteristics; nuclear interactions; nuclear structure, including the liquid-drop model approach, and the nuclear shell model; and recent developments such as the nuclear mean-field and the nuclear physics of very light nuclei, nuclear reactions with unstable nuclear beams, and the role of nuclear physics in energy production and nucleosynthesis in stars.
Throughout, discussions of theory are reinforced with examples that provide applications, thus aiding students in their reading and analysis of current literature. Each chapter closes with problems, and appendixes address supporting technical topics.
Timeless and collectible, the lectures are essential reading, not just for students of physics but for anyone seeking an introduction to the field from the inimitable Feynman.
You will follow your oxygen atoms through fire and water and from forests to your fingernails. Hydrogen atoms will wriggle into your hair and betray where you live and what you have been drinking. The carbon in your breath will become tree trunks, and the sodium in your tears will link you to long-dead oceans. The nitrogen in your muscles will help to turn the sky blue, the phosphorus in your bones will help to turn the coastal waters of North Carolina green, the calcium in your teeth will crush your food between atoms that were mined by mushrooms, and the iron in your blood will kill microbes as it once killed a star.
You will also discover that much of what death must inevitably do to your body is already happening among many of your atoms at this very moment and that, nonetheless, you and everyone else you know will always exist somewhere in the fabric of the universe.
You are not only made of atoms; you are atoms, and this book, in essence, is an atomic field guide to yourself.
Soon Emmy was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chasing critters, getting treats, and going for walks. She peppered Chad with questions: Could she use quantum tunneling to get through the neighbor's fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? Where are all the universes in which Chad drops steak on the floor? And what about the bunnies made of cheese that ought to be appearing out of nothing in the backyard?
With great humor and clarity, Chad Orzel explains to Emmy, and to human readers, just what quantum mechanics is and how it works -- and why, although you can't use it to catch squirrels or eat steak, it's still bizarre, amazing, and important to every dog and human.
Follow along as Chad and Emmy discuss the central elements of quantum theory, from particles that behave like waves and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to entanglement ("spooky action at a distance") and virtual particles. Along the way, they discuss the history of the theory, such as the experiments that discovered that electrons are waves and particles at the same time, and Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr's decades-long debate over what quantum theory really meant (Einstein may have been smarter, but Bohr was right more often).
Don't get caught looking less informed than Emmy. How to Teach Physics to Your Dog will show you the universe that lies beneath everyday reality, in all its randomness, uncertainty, and wonder.
"Forget Schrödinger's Cat," says Emmy, "quantum physics is all about dogs." And once you see quantum physics explained to a dog, you'll never see the world the same way again.
It starts by introducing, in a completely self-contained way, all mathematical tools needed to use symmetry ideas in physics. Thereafter, these tools are put into action and by using symmetry constraints, the fundamental equations of Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, Electromagnetism, and Classical Mechanics are derived.
As a result, the reader is able to understand the basic assumptions behind, and the connections between the modern theories of physics. The book concludes with first applications of the previously derived equations.
The text presents meaningful problems by topic — supplemented by ample illustrations, applications, and exercises — that address the most intriguing questions of modern physics. Answers to selected problems appear in the appendix. Geared toward science and engineering majors, this volume is also appropriate for independent study by those who have completed a general physics course.
• It took more than an iceberg to sink the Titanic.
• The Challenger disaster was predicted.
• Unbreakable glass dinnerware had its origin in railroad lanterns.
• A football team cannot lose momentum.
• Mercury thermometers are prohibited on airplanes for a crucial reason.
• Kryptonite bicycle locks are easily broken.
“Things fall apart” is more than a poetic insight—it is a fundamental property of the physical world. Why Things Break explores the fascinating question of what holds things together (for a while), what breaks them apart, and why the answers have a direct bearing on our everyday lives.
When Mark Eberhart was growing up in the 1960s, he learned that splitting an atom leads to a terrible explosion—which prompted him to worry that when he cut into a stick of butter, he would inadvertently unleash a nuclear cataclysm. Years later, as a chemistry professor, he remembered this childhood fear when he began to ponder the fact that we know more about how to split an atom than we do about how a pane of glass breaks.
In Why Things Break, Eberhart leads us on a remarkable and entertaining exploration of all the cracks, clefts, fissures, and faults examined in the field of materials science and the many astonishing discoveries that have been made about everything from the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger to the crashing of your hard drive. Understanding why things break is crucial to modern life on every level, from personal safety to macroeconomics, but as Eberhart reveals here, it is also an area of cutting-edge science that is as provocative as it is illuminating.
From the Hardcover edition.
Mahaffey unearths lost reactors on far flung Pacific islands and trees that were exposed to active fission that changed gender or bloomed in the dead of winter. He explains why we have nuclear submarines but not nuclear aircraft and why cold fusion doesn't exist. And who knew that radiation counting was once a fashionable trend? Though parts of the nuclear history might seem like a fiction mash-up, where cowboys somehow got a hold of a reactor, Mahaffey's vivid prose holds the reader in thrall of the infectious energy of scientific curiosity and ingenuity that may one day hold the key to solving our energy crisis or sending us to Mars.
In 1900, German physicist Max Planck postulated that light, or radiant energy, can exist only in the form of discrete packages or quanta. This profound insight, along with Einstein's equally momentous theories of relativity, completely revolutionized man's view of matter, energy, and the nature of physics itself.
In this lucid layman's introduction to quantum theory, an eminent physicist and noted popularizer of science traces the development of quantum theory from the turn of the century to about 1930 — from Planck's seminal concept (still developing) to anti-particles, mesons, and Enrico Fermi's nuclear research. Gamow was not just a spectator at the theoretical breakthroughs which fundamentally altered our view of the universe, he was an active participant who made important contributions of his own. This "insider's" vantage point lends special validity to his careful, accessible explanations of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Niels Bohr's model of the atom, the pilot waves of Louis de Broglie and other path-breaking ideas.
In addition, Gamow recounts a wealth of revealing personal anecdotes which give a warm human dimension to many giants of 20th-century physics. He ends the book with the Blegdamsvej Faust, a delightful play written in 1932 by Niels Bohr's students and colleagues to satirize the epochal developments that were revolutionizing physics. This celebrated play is available only in this volume.
Written in a clear, lively style, and enhanced by 12 photographs (including candid shots of Rutherford, Bohr, Pauli, Heisenberg, Fermi, and others), Thirty Years that Shook Physics offers both scientists and laymen a highly readable introduction to the brilliant conceptions that helped unlock many secrets of energy and matter and laid the groundwork for future discoveries.
As computer chips continue to shrink in size, scientists anticipate the end of the road: A computer in which each switch is comprised of a single atom. Such a device would operate under a different set of physical laws: The laws of quantum mechanics. Johnson gently leads the curious outsider through the surprisingly simple ideas needed to understand this dream, discussing the current state of the revolution, and ultimately assessing the awesome power these machines could have to change our world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With Reactions bestselling author Theodore Gray continues the journey through our molecular and chemical world that began with the tour de force The Elements and continued with Molecules. In The Elements, Gray gave us a never-before-seen, mesmerizing photographic view of the 118 elements in the periodic table. In Molecules, with the same phenomenal photographic acumen, plus beautifully rendered computer generated graphics, he showed us how the elements combine to form the content that makes up our universe, from table salt to oxygen to the panoply of colors and smells that surround us. At last, we've reached Reactions, in which Gray once again puts his photography and storytelling to work demonstrating how molecules interact in ways that are essential to our very existence. The book begins with a brief recap of elements and molecules and then goes on to explain important concepts the characterize a chemical reaction, including Energy, Entropy, and Time. It is then organized by type of reaction including chapters such as "Fantastic Reactions and Where to Find Them," "On the Origin of Light and Color," "The Boring Chapter," in which we learn about reactions such as paint drying, grass growing, and water boiling, and "The Need for Speed," including topics such as weather, ignition, and fire.
Born out of a symposium held to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Fermi's birth, Fermi Remembered combines essays and newly commissioned reminiscences with private material from Fermi's research notebooks, correspondence, speech outlines, and teaching to document the profound and enduring significance of Fermi's life and labors. The volume also features extensives archival material—including correspondence between Fermi and biophysicist Leo Szilard and a letter from Harry Truman—with new introductions that provide context for both the history of physics and the academic tradition at the University of Chicago.
Edited by James W. Cronin, a University of Chicago physicist and Nobel laureate himself, Fermi Remembered is a tender tribute to one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.
Geoffrey F. Chew
James W. Cronin
George W. Farwell
Jerome I. Friedman
Richard L. Garwin
Marvin L. Goldberger
Tsung Dao Lee
Marshall N. Rosenbluth
Chen Ning Yang
* Includes chapters on practical examples and problems
* Contains hints to solving problems which are included in the appendix
* Avoids complex and extensive mathematical treatments
* A modern approach to nuclear physics, covering the basic theory, but emphasising the many and important applications
Mixing history, science, and biography, Ball’s gripping exploration of the lives of scientists under Nazism offers a powerful portrait of moral choice and personal responsibility, as scientists navigated “the grey zone between complicity and resistance.” Ball’s account of the different choices these three men and their colleagues made shows how there can be no clear-cut answers or judgement of their conduct. Yet, despite these ambiguities, Ball makes it undeniable that the German scientific establishment as a whole mounted no serious resistance to the Nazis, and in many ways acted as a willing instrument of the state.
Serving the Reich considers what this problematic history can tell us about the relationship of science and politics today. Ultimately, Ball argues, a determination to present science as an abstract inquiry into nature that is “above politics” can leave science and scientists dangerously compromised and vulnerable to political manipulation.