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review 2019-11-01 09:40
The Universe in Your Hand by Christophe Galfard
The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time and Beyond - Christophe Galfard

TITLE:  The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond

 

AUTHOR:  Christophe Galfard

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13: 9781447284109

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DESCRIPTION:

 

"Imagine if The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a real hand book...

Internationally renowned physicist and bestselling author Christophe Galfard takes us on a wonder-filled journey through the past, present and future of the universe – all from the comfort of a sofa.

The Universe in Your Hand explores some of the most profound and amazing ideas of our times – Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity, Time Travel, Parallel Realities and Multiple Universe – with the promise that you'll only need one equation: the fabled E = mc²

Written from the cutting edge of today's technology, including the latest research on gravitational waves, The Universe in Your Hand is the perfect primer for anyone curious about our extraordinary universe.
"

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REVIEW:

 

I'm a bit uncertain on how to rate, or even review, this book.  On the one hand, the explanations of physics, quantum mechanics, general relativity, astrophysics, cosmology, gravity, etc are pretty good and, most importantly, understandable without requiring a physics degree.*  On the other hand, the imaginary adventurous travels (i.e. thought experiments) to such things as the inside of atoms and the cosmos in general just didn't really work for me, though I did eventually get used to it.  Maybe this sort of thing works better for people who have pictures and movies pop up in their heads when they read books, but that simply isn't me.  Otherwise, an interesting introductiory book that makes mind-bending subjects not so complicated, while managing to be entertaining at the same time.

 

~~~~

*Except String Theory.  I think you need to have ingested a substantial quantity of magic mushrooms for that to make any sense.

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-03-22 05:26
Furry Logic by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

TITLE:  Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

 

AUTHOR:  Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  978-1-4729-1411-8

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FIRST READ:  2018/04/07

RE-READ:  2019/03/22

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Furry Logic is an interesting book that takes a look at the physics concepts used by a  large variety of animal life for survival.  The writing style is informal, chatty and whitty. Some of the puns and jokes were just awful, but most led to snickers or laughs, so I can't complain about them too much.  While the authors do not go into a great deal of depth with their scientific explanations, the explanations are comprehensive enough to understand the concept.  This is a fun, fast paced, fascinating and informative book, especially for the non-physicist and non-biologist.  This book is divided into 6 chapters that show how animals make use of physics in terms of heat, forces, fluids, sound, electricity, magnetis and light.  

 

The book covers such topics as flight, how cats drink, heat detection in snakes, the Komodo Dragon's bite, the electric field of flowers and how they attract bees, the sounds of peacocks and how elephants detect sound through the ground, how some animals use polarized light or magnetic fields to determine direction, how electric eels produce their electricity, how pondskaters skate on water, how geckos walk on ceilings, how the Harlequin Mantis Shrimp punches through crap shells (and aquarium tanks), how well mosquitos fly in the rain, why dogs shake themselves dry, why giant squid have such large eyes, and many more. 

 

The book includes a section of colour photographs and has a few illustrations to explain concepts spread throughout the book.  Unfortunately, the book did not contain a list of references or a bibliography, which is a bit strange for a science book!

 

 

Furry Logic Website

 

Internet Review and Excerpts

 

 

OTHER BOOKS

 

-Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski

-Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements by Matt Wilkinson

-The Gecko’s Foot: How Scientists are Taking a Leaf from Nature's Book by Peter Forbes

-What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

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review 2018-08-06 12:41
So You Created a Wormhole by Phil Hornshaw & Nick Hurwitch
So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel - Nick Hurwitch,Phil Hornshaw

TITLE:  So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel


AUTHOR:   Phil Hornshaw & Nick Hurwitch

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  2012

 

FORMAT: ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9781101561560

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This is a humorous and silly time travel "field guide" dealing with the science (very briefly) behind time travel, numerous science-fiction film and book references and instructions on what to do if you end up in some other time or place.  At the end it was just a bit too much spoof to be anything other than just an ok read.

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review 2018-07-09 07:14
Lost in Math by Sabine Hossenfelder
Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray - Sabine Hossenfelder

TITLE:  Lost in Math:  How Beauty Leads Physics Astray

 

AUTHOR:  Sabine Hossenfelder

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  12 June 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9780465094257

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NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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Book Description:

"Most physicists think of beauty as the royal road to discovery; a leading critic shows it is instead the road to nowhere.
Whether pondering black holes or predicting discoveries at CERN, physicists believe the best theories are beautiful, natural, and elegant, and this standard separates popular theories from disposable ones. This is why, Sabine Hossenfelder argues, we have not seen a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics for more than four decades. The belief in beauty has become so dogmatic that it now conflicts with scientific objectivity: observation has been unable to confirm mindboggling theories, like supersymmetry or grand unification, invented by physicists based on aesthetic criteria. Worse, these "too good to not be true" theories are actually untestable and they have left the field in a cul-de-sac. To escape, physicists must rethink their methods. Only by embracing reality as it is can science discover the truth.
"

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Lost in Math is the story of how aesthetic judgement drives contemporary research; how theoretical physicists produce ideas that are "highly controversial and yet exceedingly popular, speculative yet intriguing, pretty yet useless"; and how these theories are untestable but the physicist believes them to be too good not to be true.  

In the past, scientists observed the world around them and performed experiments.  Then they developed theories to explain these observations.  These theories would then be tested against addition observations and experiments.  These days, theoretical physicists (especially in particle physics) concoct theories that are only supported by beautiful mathematics, and which can never be confirmed by experiments or which are unlikely (due to cost and difficulty) to be examined experminentally.

In an effort to find out what went wrong with theoretical physics, Hossenfelder interviews several physicists and takes a look at the current popular physics theories.  The author makes a convincing case that this reliance on the beauty/maths-only criteria to determine which theories to study and promote has resulted in a lack of progress in certain physics fields.  In the author's own words, "in the end the only way to find out which theory is correct is to check whether it describes nature; non-empirical theory assessment will not do it".  

The writing style of this book is conversational and accessible (for the most part - just pretend the physics is Star Trek physics), and the topic covered is important not only for physicists.  I did find the physics explanations somewhat baffling but then most of the physicists interviewed state that no-one understands quantum physic.  However, this book is a book about how physicists work, not about the physics itself, so it didn't matter much.  I found this book to be interesting and informative.

 

 

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review 2018-03-26 10:23
GRAPHENE by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World - Joseph E. Meany,Les Johnson

TITLE:  Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World

 

AUTHOR:  Les Johnson  & Joseph E. Meany 

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2018

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9781633883253

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Graphene by Johnson and Meany provides an extensive, and interesting, overview of a potential new material that could revolutionise daily life. This substance is graphene: a flat, two-dimensional, carbon-based molecule with a single sheet measuring only one atom thick.

This book is divided into sections that cover the history of graphene discovery/ development; its unique physical and electrical properties; the problems in large-scale manufacture of the substance for commerical use; its variety of potential uses that would transform everyday life; and the unknown potential health risks of graphene. The potential uses of graphene include enhancing and increasing the efficiency of solar panels, batteries, electrical conduction, computers, medical equipment and other electronic items; additions to paint and concrete to provide additional strength and waterproofing; its uses in "smart" clothing etc.

This book is particularly dense in science, with a bit of history, economics and humour thrown in. The science however is nothing more complicated than what one would come across in a highschool science class i.e. electrons and atoms are mentioned. The book is written in an accessible style that was a joy to read.

 

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