Combining science, history, and adventure, Tom Shachtman “holds the reader’s attention with the skill of a novelist” as he chronicles the story of humans’ four-centuries-long quest to master the secrets of cold (Scientific American).
“A disarming portrait of an exquisite, ferocious, world-ending extreme,” Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold demonstrates how temperature science produced astonishing scientific insights and applications that have revolutionized civilization (Kirkus Reviews). It also illustrates how scientific advancement, fueled by fortuitous discoveries and the efforts of determined individuals, has allowed people to adapt to—and change—the environments in which they live and work, shaping man’s very understanding of, and relationship, with the world.
This “truly wonderful book” was adapted into an acclaimed documentary underwritten by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, directed by British Emmy Award winner David Dugan, and aired on the BBC and PBS’s Nova in 2008 (Library Journal).
“An absorbing account to chill out with.” —Booklist
The crisis was partly a failure of mathematical modeling. But even more, it was a failure of some very sophisticated financial institutions to think like physicists. Models—whether in science or finance—have limitations; they break down under certain conditions. And in 2008, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand their purpose, and didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science.
The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it's to make them better. Weatherall reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance. We see a geophysicist use a model designed for earthquakes to predict a massive stock market crash. We discover a physicist-run hedge fund that earned 2,478.6% over the course of the 1990s. And we see how an obscure idea from quantum theory might soon be used to create a far more accurate Consumer Price Index.
Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.
In this extraordinarily accessible and witty book, Leon Lederman—“the most engaging physicist since the late, much-missed Richard Feynman” (San Francisco Examiner)—offers a fascinating tour that takes us from the Greeks’ earliest scientific observations through Einstein and beyond in an inspiring celebration of human curiosity. It ends with the quest for the Higgs boson, nicknamed the God Particle, which scientists hypothesize will help unlock the last secrets of the subatomic universe. This is not only an enlightening journey through baryons and hadrons and leptons and electrons—it also “may be the funniest book about physics ever written” (The Dallas Morning News).
“One of the clearest, most enjoyable new science books in years . . . explains the entire history of physics and cosmology. En route, you’ll laugh so hard you won’t realize how much you are learning.” —San Francisco Examiner
“The story of the search for the ultimate constituents of matter has been told many times before, but never with more verve and wit. . . . His hilarious account of how he helped persuade President Reagan to approve the construction of the Super Collider is itself worth the price of the book.” —Los Angeles Times
Where does one draw the line between solid science and fairy-tale physics? Jim Baggott argues that there is no observational or experimental evidence for many of the ideas of modern theoretical physics: super-symmetric particles, super strings, the multiverse, the holographic principle, or the anthropic cosmological principle.
Unafraid to challenge prominent theorists, Baggott offers engaging portraits of many central figures of modern physics, including Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies, John D. Barrow, Brian Greene, and Leonard Susskind. Informed, comprehensive, and balanced, Farewell to Reality discusses the latest ideas about the nature of physical reality while clearly distinguishing between fact and fantasy, providing essential and entertaining reading for everyone interested in what we know and don’t know about the nature of the universe and reality itself.
Einstein Wrote Back tells the story of Moffat’s unusual entry into the world of academia and documents his career at the frontlines of twentieth-century physics as he worked and associated with some of the greatest minds in scientific history, including Niels Bohr, Fred Hoyle, Wolfgang Pauli, Paul Dirac, Erwin Schrödinger, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Abdus Salam, among others.
Taking readers inside the classrooms and minds of these giants of modern science, Moffat affectionately exposes the foibles and eccentricities of these great men, as they worked on the revolutionary ideas that, today, are the very foundation of modern physics and cosmology.
Dirac’s personality is legendary. He was an extraordinarily reserved loner, relentlessly literal-minded and appeared to have no empathy with most people. Yet he was a family man and was intensely loyal to his friends. His tastes in the arts ranged from Beethoven to Cher, from Rembrandt to Mickey Mouse.
Based on previously undiscovered archives, The Strangest Man reveals the many facets of Dirac’s brilliantly original mind. A compelling human story, The Strangest Man also depicts a spectacularly exciting era in scientific history.
In these classic lessons, Feynman introduces the general reader to the following topics: atoms, basic physics, energy, gravitation, quantum mechanics, and the relationship of physics to other topics. With his dazzling and inimitable wit, Feynman presents each discussion with a minimum of jargon. Filled with wonderful examples and clever illustrations, Six Easy Pieces is the ideal introduction to the fundamentals of physics by one of the most admired and accessible physicists of modern times.
With characteristic flair, insight, and humor, Feynman discusses topics physics students often struggle with and offers valuable tips on addressing them. Included here are three lectures on problem-solving and a lecture on inertial guidance omitted from The Feynman Lectures on Physics. An enlightening memoir by Matthew Sands and oral history interviews with Feynman and his Caltech colleagues provide firsthand accounts of the origins of Feynman's landmark lecture series. Also included are incisive and illuminating exercises originally developed to supplement The Feynman Lectures on Physics, by Robert B. Leighton and Rochus E. Vogt.
Feynman's Tips on Physics was co-authored by Michael A. Gottlieb and Ralph Leighton to provide students, teachers, and enthusiasts alike an opportunity to learn physics from some of its greatest teachers, the creators of The Feynman Lectures on Physics.
In Life’s Ratchet, physicist Peter M. Hoffmann locates the answer to this age-old question at the nanoscale. The complex molecules of our cells can rightfully be called “molecular machines,” or “nanobots”; these machines, unlike any other, work autonomously to create order out of chaos. Tiny electrical motors turn electrical voltage into motion, tiny factories custom-build other molecular machines, and mechanical machines twist, untwist, separate and package strands of DNA. The cell is like a city—an unfathomable, complex collection of molecular worker bees working together to create something greater than themselves.
Life, Hoffman argues, emerges from the random motions of atoms filtered through the sophisticated structures of our evolved machinery. We are essentially giant assemblies of interacting nanoscale machines; machines more amazing than can be found in any science fiction novel. Incredibly, the molecular machines in our cells function without a mysterious “life force,” nor do they violate any natural laws. Scientists can now prove that life is not supernatural, and that it can be fully understood in the context of science.
Part history, part cutting-edge science, part philosophy, Life’s Ratchet takes us from ancient Greece to the laboratories of modern nanotechnology to tell the story of our quest for the machinery of life.
In Physics in Mind, eminent biophysicist Werner R. Loewenstein argues that to answer these questions, we must first understand the physical mechanisms that underlie the workings of the mind. And so begins an exhilarating journey along the sensory data stream of the brain, which shows how our most complex organ processes the vast amounts of information coming in through our senses to create a coherent, meaningful picture of the world. Bringing information theory to bear on recent advances in the neurosciences, Loewenstein reveals a web of immense computational power inside the brain. He introduces the revolutionary idea that quantum mechanics could be fundamental to how our minds almost instantaneously deal with staggering amounts of information, as in the case of the information streaming through our eyes.
Combining cutting-edge research in neuroscience and physics, Loewenstein presents an ambitious hypothesis about the parallel processing of sensory information that is the heart, hub, and pivot of the cognitive brain. Wide-ranging and brimming with insight, Physics in Mind breaks new ground in our understanding of how the mind works.
First he taught you classical mechanics. Now, physicist Leonard Susskind has teamed up with data engineer Art Friedman to present the theory and associated mathematics of the strange world of quantum mechanics.
In this follow-up to the New York Times best-selling The Theoretical Minimum, Susskind and Friedman provide a lively introduction to this famously difficult field, which attempts to understand the behavior of sub-atomic objects through mathematical abstractions. Unlike other popularizations that shy away from quantum mechanics' weirdness, Quantum Mechanics embraces the utter strangeness of quantum logic. The authors offer crystal-clear explanations of the principles of quantum states, uncertainty and time dependence, entanglement, and particle and wave states, among other topics, and each chapter includes exercises to ensure mastery of each area. Like The Theoretical Minimum, this volume runs parallel to Susskind's eponymous Stanford University-hosted continuing education course.
An approachable yet rigorous introduction to a famously difficult topic, Quantum Mechanics provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.
"Beautifully clear explanations of famously 'difficult' things," --Wall Street Journal
A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2013
If you ever regretted not taking physics in college--or simply want to know how to think like a physicist--this is the book for you. In this bestselling introduction, physicist Leonard Susskind and hacker-scientist George Hrabovsky offer a first course in physics and associated math for the ardent amateur. Challenging, lucid, and concise, The Theoretical Minimum provides a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace.
For more than thirty years as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly fun, whether putting his head in the path of a wrecking ball, supercharging himself with three hundred thousand volts of electricity, or demonstrating why the sky is blue and why clouds are white. Now, as Carl Sagan did for astronomy and Brian Green did for cosmology, Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in For the Love of Physics, opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world all around us. “I introduce people to their own world,” writes Lewin, “the world they live in and are familiar with but don’t approach like a physicist—yet.”
Could it be true that we are shorter standing up than lying down? Why can we snorkel no deeper than about one foot below the surface? Why are the colors of a rainbow always in the same order, and would it be possible to put our hand out and touch one? Whether introducing why the air smells so fresh after a lightning storm, why we briefly lose (and gain) weight when we ride in an elevator, or what the big bang would have sounded like had anyone existed to hear it, Lewin never ceases to surprise and delight with the extraordinary ability of physics to answer even the most elusive questions.
Recounting his own exciting discoveries as a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy—arriving at MIT right at the start of an astonishing revolution in astronomy—he also brings to life the power of physics to reach into the vastness of space and unveil exotic uncharted territories, from the marvels of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud to the unseeable depths of black holes.
“For me,” Lewin writes, “physics is a way of seeing—the spectacular and the mundane, the immense and the minute—as a beautiful, thrillingly interwoven whole.” His wonderfully inventive and vivid ways of introducing us to the revelations of physics impart to us a new appreciation of the remarkable beauty and intricate harmonies of the forces that govern our lives.
“Where did the universe come from? What was there before it? What will the future bring? And finally, why is there something rather than nothing?”
One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss’s characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it’s going to end.
Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.
In The End of the Beginning, Adam Frank explains how the texture of our lives changes along with our understanding of the universe’s origin. Since we awoke to self-consciousness fifty thousand years ago, our lived experience of time—from hunting and gathering to the development of agriculture to the industrial revolution to the invention of Outlook calendars—has been transformed and rebuilt many times. But the latest theories in cosmology— time with no beginning, parallel universes, eternal inflation—are about to send us in a new direction.
Time is both our grandest and most intimate conception of the universe. Many books tell the story, recounting the progress of scientific cosmology. Frank tells the story of humanity’s deepest question— when and how did everything begin?—alongside the story of how human beings have experienced time. He looks at the way our engagement with the world— our inventions, our habits and more—has allowed us to discover the nature of the universe and how those discoveries, in turn, inform our daily experience.
This astounding book will change the way we think about time and how it affects our lives.
This sweeping account begins in the 19th century, with the discovery of nuclear fission, and continues to World War Two and the Americans’ race to beat Hitler’s Nazis. That competition launched the Manhattan Project and the nearly overnight construction of a vast military-industrial complex that culminated in the fateful dropping of the first bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Reading like a character-driven suspense novel, the book introduces the players in this saga of physics, politics, and human psychology—from FDR and Einstein to the visionary scientists who pioneered quantum theory and the application of thermonuclear fission, including Planck, Szilard, Bohr, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Meitner, von Neumann, and Lawrence.
From nuclear power’s earliest foreshadowing in the work of H.G. Wells to the bright glare of Trinity at Alamogordo and the arms race of the Cold War, this dread invention forever changed the course of human history, and The Making of The Atomic Bomb provides a panoramic backdrop for that story.
Richard Rhodes’s ability to craft compelling biographical portraits is matched only by his rigorous scholarship. Told in rich human, political, and scientific detail that any reader can follow, The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a thought-provoking and masterful work.
Adams suggests that life was not merely some lucky break, but rather a natural outcome of the ascending ladder of complexity supported by our universe. Since our galaxy seems to harbor millions of planets with the same basic elements of habitability as Earth, the emergence of life is probably not a rare event. If life emerges deep inside planets and moons, as new research suggests happened on our planet, the number of viable habitats is truly enormous. Seven chronological chapters take the reader from the laws of physics and birth of the universe to the origins of life on Earth -- showing how energy flowed, exploded, and was repeatedly harnessed in replicating structures and organisms.
In his groundbreaking first book, Fred Adams established the five eras of the universe with a focus on its long-term future. It is perhaps not surprising that he now turns his attention to the mystery of our astronomical origins. Here is a stunning new perspective, a book of genesis for our time, revealing how the laws of physics created galaxies, stars, planets, and even life in the universe.
The authors outline how their positions have further diverged on a number of key issues, including the spatial geometry of the universe, inflationary versus cyclic theories of the cosmos, and the black-hole information-loss paradox. Though much progress has been made, Hawking and Penrose stress that physicists still have further to go in their quest for a quantum theory of gravity.
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.
Weaving together history, science, and biography, Diana Preston chronicles a human chain reaction of scientists and leaders whose discoveries and decisions forever changed our lives. The early decades of the 20th century brought Einstein's relativity theory, Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus, and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and scientists of many nations worked together to tease out the secrets of the atom. Only 12 years before Hiroshima, one leading physicist dismissed the idea of harnessing energy from atoms as "moonshine." Then, on the eve of World War II, the power of atomic fission was revealed, alliances were broken, friendships sundered, and science co-opted by world events.
Preston interviewed the surviving scientists, and she offers new insight into the fateful wartime meeting between Heisenberg and Bohr, along with a fascinating conclusion examining what might have happened had any number of events occurred differently. She also provides a rare portrait of Hiroshima before the blast.
As Hiroshima's 60th anniversary approaches, Before the Fallout compels us to consider the threats and moral dilemmas we face in our still dangerous world.