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Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them Hardcover – April 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195336119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195336115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.5 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


Listed in Mathematical Reviews


"Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." -- Christian Science Monitor


"The ploymathic Clifford Pickover discusses 'landmark laws of nature that were discovered over several centuries and whose ramifications have profoundly altered our everyday lives and understanding.'" -- Kendrick Frazier, Skeptical Inquirer


"A perpetual idea machine, Clifford Pickover is one of the most creative, original thinkers in the world today." -- Journal of Recreational Mathematics


"The incomparable Clifford Pickover has written another rich science narrative that t once informs and entertains. There is no one writing today with such an encyclopedic knowledge of all things scientific, and Archimedes to Hawking covers the gamut of what is arguably the most important topic in all of science - the laws of nature. Are they discovered or invented? Do they correspond to things out in the world or only to thoughts inside our heads? These and numerous other tantalizing questions are answered as Pickover takes us through a brief history of nearly everything in the universe (and the universe itself)." -- Michael Shermer, Skeptic


"A ride through the history of world-changing scientific ideas. Pickover pays homage to the great minds who have laid bare the mathematical machinery whirring just beneath the skin of reality. An impressively researched tour de force." --Marcus Chown, author of The Quantum Zoo


"Clifford Pickover has brilliantly succeeded in a monumental task. He has explained, in his usual lucid style, some forty of the greatest laws of physics, and sketched the lives and often eccentric personalities of the geniuses who discovered them. Pickover's pages reflect his vast knowledge of physics and his firm conviction that mathematics has an awesome external reality." --Martin Gardner, author of The Colossal Book of Mathematics


About the Author


Clifford A. Pickover is the author of forty books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, religion, medical mysteries, and science fiction. Pickover is a prolific inventor with over forty patents, is the associate editor for several journals, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults. He lives outside New York City.

More About the Author

From my publisher:

Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over 30 books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, religion, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, and science fiction.

Pickover is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, is the associate editor for several journals, the author of colorful puzzle calendars, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults.

WIRED magazine writes, "Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." According to The Los Angeles Times, "Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art and thought."
The Christian Science Monitor writes, "Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." Pickover's computer graphics have been featured on the cover of many popular magazines and on TV shows.

His web site, Pickover.Com, has received millions of visits. His Blog RealityCarnival.Com is one of his most popular sites.

Customer Reviews

This was the first book by Cliff Pickover that I've read and it's made me want to read more.
wen313
Pickover does a masterful job in presenting, sometimes very difficult material and concepts in a manner that makes it easy for the non-scientist.
Robert Busko
I plan on recommending that my science teachers have their students buy the book for summer reading for our high school science courses.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moskowitz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Dr. Pickover's first scientific book since his A Beginner's Guide to Immortality and The Mobius Strip writings of 2006. After over a year of pursuing science fiction, the author has provided us with a work that was worth waiting for. This is his best yet.

Archimedes to Hawking is no dry listing of scientific laws. Yes, it does have the important laws of science and the runners-up which Pickover generously calls the "Great Contenders." The reason that the book runs to five hundred pages is that Pickover describes the lives and works of the lawgivers. These are not just people who showed up. Their biographies show that they worked at it. "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

Although the illustrations appear to be more for decoration than explanation, some are quite stunning. I particularly liked Bode's Virgo and Hooke's Flea, even if they have nothing to do with the laws named for those two. More illustrations like those would have been nice.

The author's approach is interesting. The laws are arranged chronologically. Archimedes is the first, but we have to skip almost two millennia to the Renaissance to find the next. The Industrial Revolution then brings the bulk of the science. There is very little past the turn of the twentieth century. Only three of the scientists named in this collection are still alive.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cliff Pickover's newest book is both significant and unique. The blend of factual data and biographically interesting stories of the scientists lends itself to being appealing to a wide variety of readers. No other book that I'm aware of covers both a wide range of scientific laws in addition to covering the back story behind how those laws were developed. Michael Guillen's Five Equations That Changed the World is similar in both interest and in target audience, but the Pickover book is covers many more laws and people. Jennifer Bothamley's Dictionary of Theories, in contrast, has a much wider scope (and including non-scientific theories), but the special interest of the back story is absent, again distinguishing the Pickover book as distinctly different.

Archimedes to Hawking can be enjoyed by everyone with a curious mind: why DO we name some physical laws after people and some not? how did these geniuses live, and what prompted them to do the work in their fields? how did they stumble upon a brilliant concept, and what struggles did they go through to prove it? All written with Cliff's unique and entertaining style.

In all, it's a brilliant book that I would recommend to anyone. I plan on recommending that my science teachers have their students buy the book for summer reading for our high school science courses.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Gordon on April 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Science is often erroneously, I think, seen as "cold and austere like sculpture" as Bertrand Russell once described the field of mathematics. But, the story told by Pickover of some of the great laws of science and the lawgivers who gave us these laws is much different from that. It is a story of incredible human passion, of people like Michael Faraday who described electricity as "the soul of the universe", the modestly educated Pierre Curie who won a Nobel Prize in physics, and Robert Hooke who invented the hygrometer to measure humidity after observing that the hairs of the beard of a goat would bend when wet and straighten out when dry. Other figures endured bizarre afflictions, strange religious beliefs, harsh criticism from rivals, and even simultaneous discoveries of their own work by others. Yet, they triumphed and continued in what Murray Gell-Mann described as "the most persistent and greatest adventure in human history, this search to understand the universe."

Pickover describes the laws, the lawgivers, and the nature of scientific laws in a brisk and lively pace, and peppers the book with loads of color and black and white illustrations. And, since you will doubtlessly want to learn more, there is a generous supply of references, both in print and on the internet. Science is dull and dry - nah, don't believe it. It's full of life and human drama when Pickover tells the story!

Dennis W. Gordon
Madison, Wisconsin
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By wen313 on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was the first book by Cliff Pickover that I've read and it's made me want to read more. I'm giving this book five stars because it was so well-written and interesting, and the subject matter was presented with such creativity it was a fun read for someone like me, who does not have a background in science or mathematics. I admit to briefly skimming over the physical laws, but I devoured the biographical sections on each of the lawgivers and found their lives truly fascinating. I also appreciated the "Further Reading" and "Conversation Starters" in each chapter. The author noting current events in the world at the time each lawgiver was alive was very cool, an excellent touch, for it provided perspective on the big picture and made their accomplishments all the more remarkable (if that's possible). Often while I was reading this book I thought of my teachers in high school and wished they'd had some of Pickover's storytelling skills, because knowing about the lives of lawgivers would have been a great motivator. For that reason I think teachers would find this book valuable, but it's also a book for everybody, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in the quirky, remarkable people who changed the way the world thinks.
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