Does the universe embody beautiful ideas? Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this "beautiful question." With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek's groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. This is the deep logic of the universe--and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring. Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras and the ancient belief in the music of the spheres to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentieth-century physics. Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. The equations for atoms and light are almost the same ones that govern musical instruments and sound; the subatomic particles that are responsible for most of our mass are determined by simple geometric symmetries.
Drawings and short essays offer engaging and accessible explanations of key ideas in physics, from triangulation to relativity and beyond. Humans have been trying to understand the physical universe since antiquity. Aristotle had one vision (the realm of the celestial spheres is perfect), and Einstein another (all motion is relativistic). More often than not, these different understandings begin with a simple drawing, a pre-mathematical picture of reality. Such drawings are a humble but effective tool of the physicist's craft, part of the tradition of thinking, teaching, and learning passed down through the centuries. This book uses drawings to help explain fifty-one key ideas of physics accessibly and engagingly. Don Lemons, a professor of physics and author of several physics books, pairs short, elegantly written essays with simple drawings that together convey important concepts from the history of physical science.
A fascinating account, written in real time, of the unfolding of a scientific discovery: the first detection of gravitational waves. Scientists have been trying to confirm the existence of gravitational waves for fifty years. Then, in September 2015, came a "very interesting event" (as the cautious subject line in a physicist's email read) that proved to be the first detection of gravitational waves. In Gravity's Kiss, Harry Collins -- who has been watching the science of gravitational wave detection for forty-three of those fifty years and has written three previous books about it -- offers a final, fascinating account, written in real time, of the unfolding of one of the most remarkable scientific discoveries ever made.
It has already been called the scientific breakthrough of the century: the detection of gravitational waves. Einstein predicted these tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime nearly a hundred years ago, but they were never perceived directly until now. Decades in the making, this momentous discovery has given scientists a new understanding of the cataclysmic events that shape the universe and a new confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin.
Carlo Rovelli brings a playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, offering surprising--and surprisingly easy to grasp--explanations of Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds.
Welcome to the Universe is a personal guided tour of the cosmos by three of today's leading astrophysicists. Inspired by the enormously popular introductory astronomy course that Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott taught together at Princeton, this book covers it all--from planets, stars, and galaxies to black holes, wormholes, and time travel. Describing the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the informative and entertaining narrative propels you from our home solar system to the outermost frontiers of space. How do stars live and die? Why did Pluto lose its planetary status? What are the prospects of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? How did the universe begin? Why is it expanding and why is its expansion accelerating? Is our universe alone or part of an infinite multiverse?
Recently Added Physical Books
Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin
Call Number: QC179 .L48 2017
Publication Date: 2016-03-29
The authoritative story of the headline-making discovery of gravitational waves--by an eminent theoretical astrophysicist and award-winning writer. In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, his top priority after he proposed his theory of curved spacetime. One century later, we are recording the first sounds from space, the soundtrack to accompany astronomy's silent movie. In Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, Janna Levin recounts the fascinating story of the obsessions, the aspirations, and the trials of the scientists who embarked on an arduous, fifty-year endeavor to capture these elusive waves.
CERN: How We Found the Higgs Boson by Michael Krause
Call Number: QC793 .K73 2014
Publication Date: 2014-09-30
This informative and entertaining book provides a broad look at the fascinating history of CERN, and the physicists working in different areas at CERN who were active in the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Call Number: QB982 .T965 2014
Publication Date: 2014-09-02
Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, this book explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right.
Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe by Roger Penrose
Call Number: QC6 .P367 2016
Publication Date: 2016-09-27 Princeton Lectures on Physics & Math
What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy possibly have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, theoretical physicists are immune to mere trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, acclaimed physicist and bestselling author Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this provocative book, he argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas--string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology.
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
Call Number: QB34.5 .S63 2017
Publication Date: 2017
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or "human computers," to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.
How Physics Makes Us Free by J T Ismael
Call Number: QC6 .I675 2016
Publication Date: 2016-03-03
In 1687 Isaac Newton ushered in a new scientific era in which laws of nature could be used to predict the movements of matter with almost perfect precision. Newton's physics also posed a profound challenge to our self-understanding, however, for the very same laws that keep airplanes in theair and rivers flowing downhill tell us that it is in principle possible to predict what each of us will do every second of our entire lives, given the early conditions of the universe. Can it really be that even while you toss and turn late at night in the throes of an important decision and it seems like the scales of fate hang in the balance, that your decision is a foregone conclusion? Can it really be that everything you have done and everything you ever will do is determinedby facts that were in place long before you were born? This problem is one of the staples of philosophical discussion. How Physics Makes Us Free provides an accessible and innovative take on a central question of human existence.
In Praise of Simple Physics by Paul J. Nahin
Call Number: QC21.3 .N34 2016
Publication Date: 2016-05-24
Physics can explain many of the things that we commonly encounter. It can tell us why the night is dark, what causes the tides, and even how best to catch a baseball. With In Praise of Simple Physics, popular math and science writer Paul Nahin presents a plethora of situations that explore the science and math behind the wonders of everyday life. Roaming through a diverse range of puzzles, he illustrates how physics shows us ways to wring more energy from renewable sources, to measure the gravity in our car garages, to figure out which of three light switches in the basement controls the light bulb in the attic, and much, much more. How fast can you travel from London to Paris? How do scientists calculate the energy of an atomic bomb explosion? How do you kick a football so it stays in the air and goes a long way downfield? Nahin begins with simpler problems and progresses to more challenging questions, and his entertaining, accessible, and scientifically and mathematically informed explanations are all punctuated by his trademark humor.
Inside CERN's Large Hadron Collider by Campanelli Mario
Call Number: QC787.P73 C36 2016
Publication Date: 2016
The development of particle physics -- A short history of CERN -- The challenges of the LHC -- Particle detectors in the LHC -- QCD and standard model physics -- The discovery of the Higgs boson -- The human factor -- Technological spin-offs.
The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander
Call Number: QB981 .A54 2017
Publication Date: 2017-12-05
More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane put physics and geometry at the core of his music. Physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander follows suit, using jazz to answer physics' most vexing questions about the past and future of the universe. Following the great minds that first drew the links between music and physics-a list including Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, and Rakim-The Jazz of Physics reveals that the ancient poetic idea of the Music of the Spheres.
The Meaning of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Lindsey Michael Banco
Call Number: QC16.O62 B36 2016
Publication Date: 2016-05-15
Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, the single most recognizable face of the atomic bomb, and a man whose name has become almost synonymous with Cold War American nuclear science, was and still is a conflicted, controversial figure who has come to represent an equally ambivalent technology. The Meanings of J. Robert Oppenheimer examines how he has been represented over the past seven decades in biographies, histories, fiction, comics, photographs, film, television, documentaries, theater, and museums. Lindsey Michael Banco gathers an unprecedented group of cultural texts and seeks to understand the multiple meanings Oppenheimer has held in American popular culture since 1945.
The Newton Papers by Sarah Dry
Call Number: QC16.N7 D79 2014
Publication Date: 2014-05-09
In The Newton Papers, Sarah Dry illuminates the tangled history of these private writings over the course of nearly three hundred years, from the long span of Newton's own life into the present day. The writings, on subjects ranging from secret alchemical formulas to impassioned rejections of the Holy Trinity, would eventually come to light as they moved through the hands of relatives, collectors, and scholars. The story of their disappearance, dispersal, and rediscovery is populated by a diverse cast of characters who pursued and possessed the papers, from economist John Maynard Keynes to controversial Jewish Biblical scholar Abraham Yahuda. Dry's captivating narrative moves between these varied personalities, depicting how, as they chased the image of Newton through the thickets of his various obsessions, these men became obsessed themselves with the allure of defining the "true"Newton.
The Quantum Labyrinth by Paul Halpern
Call Number: QC174.12 .H347 2017
Publication Date: 2017-10-17
The story of the unlikely friendship between the two physicists who fundamentally recast the notion of time and history In 1939, Richard Feynman, a brilliant graduate of MIT, arrived in John Wheeler's Princeton office to report for duty as his teaching assistant. A lifelong friendship and enormously productive collaboration was born, despite sharp differences in personality. Their collaboration led to a complete rethinking of the nature of time and reality. It enabled Feynman to show how quantum reality is a combination of alternative, contradictory possibilities, and inspired Wheeler to develop his landmark concept of wormholes, portals to the future and past.
Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli; Simon Carnell (Translator); Erica Segre (Translator)
Call Number: Babbidge Library QC178 .R69313 2017
Publication Date: 2017-01-24
What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his life exploring these questions. He tells us how our understanding of reality has changed over the centuries and how physicists think about the structure of the universe today. In elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity.. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode--a vast universe still largely undiscovered.
Storm in a Teacup : The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski
Call Number: QC75 .C94 2017
Publication Date: 2017-01-10
Take a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster? Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you're interested in what makes the universe tick. In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski provides the tools to alter the way we see everything around us by linking ordinary objects and occurrences, like popcorn popping, coffee stains, and fridge magnets, to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative medical testing.
Strange Glow by Timothy J. Jorgensen
Call Number: QC475 .J67 2016
Publication Date: 2016-02-23
More than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind's extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and harms our health. Timothy Jorgensen explores how our knowledge of and experiences with radiation in the last century can lead us to smarter personal decisions about radiation exposures today.
A Student's Guide to Waves by Daniel Fleisch; Laura Kinnaman
Call Number: QC157 .F54 2015
Publication Date: 2015-04-09
Waves are an important topic in the fields of mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum theory, but many students struggle with the mathematical aspects. Written to complement course textbooks, this book focuses on the topics that students find most difficult. Retaining the highly popular approach used in Fleisch's other Student's Guides, the book uses plain language to explain fundamental ideas in a simple and clear way.
The Telescope in the Ice : Inventing a New Astronomy at the South Pole by Mark Bowen
Located near the U. S. Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the geographic South Pole, IceCube is unlike most telescopes in that it is not designed to detect light. It employs a cubic kilometer of diamond-clear ice, more than a mile beneath the surface, to detect an elementary particle known as the neutrino. In 2010, it detected the first extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos from outer space and thus gave birth to a new field of astronomy. IceCube is also the largest particle physics detector ever built. Its scientific goals span not only astrophysics and cosmology but also pure particle physics. Neutrino physics is perhaps the most active field in particle physics today, and IceCube is at the forefront.