"Science is done by real human beings, with human concerns. Only the Longest Threads tells a story that conveys the human side of science in a way that is as moving as it is accurate."—Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
Only the Longest Threads will thrill readers with its dramatic and lucid accounts of the great breakthroughs in the history of physics—classical mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and string theory, each from the viewpoint of a (fictional) witness to the events.
Tasneem Zehra Husain re-imagines the pivotal moments in the history of physics when radical new theories shifted our perception of the universe, and our place in it. Husain immerses the reader in the immediacy and excitement of the discoveries—and she guides us as we begin to understand the underlying science and to grasp the revolutionary step forward each of these milestones represents.
"Tasneem Zehra Husain writes lyrically, poetically about life, love, and physics. I highly recommend this wonderful book for anyone interested in what physics, and indeed all of science, is about. She masterfully describes the most momentous moments in physics history with verve and talent."—Amir D. Aczel, bestselling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem
"A delightful meditation on the development of modern physics, culminating in the discovery of the Higgs. Husain follows the thread of its creation through a dialog between a journalist and young theory student, and as seen through the eyes of witnesses."—John Huth, Donner Professor of Science, Harvard University
"Well-written and cleverly constructed, this book takes us on a journey through the history of physics as a series of fictional adventures, loosely linked by another fiction, the storytellers' emails to each other. Some books are praised because 'I couldn’t put it down,' but this one merits a deeper reading, one that stops, muses on, and savors each story before going on to the next. Each one captures not only the emergence of a significant idea in physics, but also something of the characters, culture, and times surrounding that development. So take your time, pause to ponder, but persevere, you will be well rewarded!"—Helen R. Quinn, Physicist, Science Educator, and co-author of The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter, Professor Emeritus SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
"How do theoretical physicists think? Tasneem Zehra Husain knows. She knows their purpose, feels their passions, articulates their frustrations, shares their triumphs. Through the device of fiction Only the Longest Threads communicates the history of physical thought—its roots in inquisitiveness and essential disinterest in outcome—with greater clarity than any popular science text."—Michael Duff FRS, Abdus Salam Professor of Theoretical Physics, Imperial College London
"An artfully constructed journey through space and time."—Freddy Cachazo, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
"Husain skillfully weaves a poetic tapestry."—Joseph Mazur, author of Enlightening Symbols
Tasneem Zehra Husain is a writer, educator, and Pakistan’s first female string theorist. She holds a PhD from Stockholm University and did post-doctoral research at Harvard University.
Husain is fascinated by scientific theories, how we engage with them, and how they change us. She explores these themes in her fiction and nonfiction writing, her popular talks, and the educational workshops she conducts for science teachers. Husain is actively involved in science outreach, and frequently delivers talks about theoretical physics to students and lay audiences. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Appendices include contemporary reviews as well as contemporary writings on heroism, sensibility, and women and war. A series of personal letters between Pratt (writing as Courtney Melmoth) and Benjamin Franklin, for whom he worked in France, are also included.
Here, in a letter of her own, Lee Smith explains how she was inspired to write this celebrated epistolary novel:
Like me, you probably get Christmas letters every year. I read every word and save every letter. Because every Christmas letter is the story of a life, and what story can be more interesting than the story of our lives? Often, it is the story of an entire family. But you also have to read between the lines with Christmas letters. Sometimes, what is not said is even more important than what is on the page.
In The Christmas Letters, I have used this familiar format to illumine the lives, hopes, dreams, and disappointments of three generations of American women. Much of the story of The Christmas Letters is also told through shared recipes. As Mary, my favorite character, says, "I feel as if I have written out my life story in recipes! The Cool Whip and mushroom soup years, the hibachi and fondue period, then the quiche and crepes phase, and now it's these salsa years."
I wrote this little book for the same reason I write to my friends and relatives every holiday--Christmas letters give us a chance to remember and celebrate who we are.
With warmest greetings, Lee Smith
In 1933, Ralph leaves England for a new life on the island of Lamu, a journey forced upon him by his fiancee's father. In a series of letters, he writes to Lilian using her parting gift—a Mabie Todd, Blackbird No 8 ink pen with a heart-shaped reservoir. Despite getting no replies, Ralph describes the journey, his fellow passengers, and upon arrival, his colleagues and other ex-pats. In time, Ralph comes to the conclusion that any feelings he had for his lover were delusional. He makes the life-changing decision not to return to the land of his birth, and sends the pen back to a still-silent Lilian. As their story unfolds and reaches the final and permanent severing of ties, author Alex Baker spreads more modern tales of lost love and broken friendships in increasingly exotic locations between his hero's missives. The common factor throughout is the pen passed by Lilian to her granddaughter whose father was the product of a moment of passion snatched before Ralph left the cold shores of England. The tightness of these vignettes is masterful, and the twist in the tale is at once moving and deeply satisfying.
This time, Tymony has concocted an ingenious bag of tricks that includes a helicopter, a hand-powered fan, a clever moon direction trick, and many, many other shrewd navigation tools and tons of sneaky trivia on plants and animals, geography, and physics.
Each nifty project in the book comes complete with detailed, easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations that fully demonstrate the step-by-step process, making Sneaky Science Tricks an ideal guidebook for sneaky scientists of all ages.