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A Bee in a Cathedral: And 99 Other Scientific Analogies Hardcover – June 16, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1554079599 ISBN-10: 1554079594 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; First Edition edition (June 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554079594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554079599
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

What a delightful book! I had a hard time putting it down.... Rich with authentic comparisons, pictures, graphs, and facts, it is a valuable compendium for teachers. I really liked the format of two pages per analogy. It made for a quick read of each topic and made it easy to go on to another. Written at a level that most people would understand, the analogies will help readers comprehend scientific topics that may be difficult for them to understand. This is a must-have book. [I] highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of science or convey a more interesting view to students. I think it should be in every science classroom. (Ralph Peterson NSTA - National Science Teachers Association 2011-10-06)

Educators, science communicators, and researchers have long used the x is like y construction with familiar objects and actions to make scientific ideas clear to their audiences. Writer and journalist Levy presents 100 such easy-to-understand comparisons that illuminate facts and principles from physical sciences, biology, human anatomy and physiology, and technology.... Two-page spreads effectively organize the short text and accompanying colorful graphics. (Science 2011-10-14)

One hundred analogies and metaphors make science more visual. Learn how chemical reactions are like school dances and how long it would take to type the human genome. (Science News 2011-11-05)

By explaining complex scientific concepts using easier-to-grasp analogies, author Joel Levy has created a heavy book that treads lightly over many subjects.... For a browser, this book is great fun. ... The subjects and the vocabulary aim for a high-school-through-adult audience, and for readers who enjoy science-minded browsing, this may be just the thing. (Geri Diorio VOYA 2012-02-01)

About the Author

Joel Levy is a writer and journalist specializing in history and science. He is the author of more than a dozen books, and has also written features and articles for newspapers and magazines.


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Customer Reviews

Perfect gift for Science teachers.
Brousgeo
A DNA molecule, although it might have a macroscopic length of several centimeters, remains invisible because of it atomic-scale width.
wiredweird
As a lay person with a casual interest in science, I found this book to be full of clever explanations for sometimes complex topics.
K. Gill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm sort of disappointed at the busy layout of the book, but it's a delightful concept overall. I'm Very disappointed at the error in 'Ham sandwiches and stoichiometry,' where there are too many electrons in the CO2 molecule - 20 electrons in the outer rings of the CO2 molecule but only 16 electrons in the outer rings of the non-bonded C and 2O's. Errors like this are such a problem for people who are trying to learn something. Also, on the pagers about the apple as big as the earth, the basketball-coin analogy doesn't seem to add anything. On the same pages, a 200 micron Paramecium IS visible with the naked eye - that's 0.2 mm - about the width of the millimeter line on a ruler, so that's another bad bit of science, even without the accompanying math: enlarging a ~6 mm water drop to 6 meters would enlarge the Paramecium from 200 microns to 20 cm, by my calculations. Where is this guy coming from?!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book's great review in Science magazine stirred my interest, so I went ahead and got it. I rationalized that it would be a gift for soemone I had in mind, but it was OK if I read it first. That I did, and quite enjoyed its mind-bending analogies between the spectacular and the mundane. It explores quantum entanglement, the energy released by hurricanes, the length of a strand of living DNA, and many other wonders of the natural and man-made worlds. Along the way, sidebars and insets add background information and factoids, like the temperature of the Boomerang Nebula (the coldest spot in space) or the time it takes for the atoms in a human body to be replaced by natural growth and turnover.

Early on, though, a few things started to nag. Page 21, for example discusses realtivity. A sidebar mentions the cumulative effects of acceleration at 1g - increasing your speed at that rate, you'd reach the speed of light in just under a year. The thing is, though, you wouldn't. Relativistic effects would kick in long before that, preventing any material body from reaching that speed. Page 43 refers to "1 kilowatt per hour" - a unit of measurement nearly meaningless in that context, since kilowatts already have a "per hour" term silently built in. P.93 asserts that "Even the biggest molecules are microscopic on a human scale." A DNA molecule, although it might have a macroscopic length of several centimeters, remains invisible because of it atomic-scale width. But diamond is covalently bound carbon, so a single diamond crystal of visible size really is one molecule. Likewise, molecules of phenolic plastics (like "bakelite"), which polymerize promiscuously, can grow to visible size. A bakelite dinner plate, for example, might be one huge, branched, winding molecule. P.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By K. Gill on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever struggled to understand exactly how small an atom is, or how large the universe is, or how long the human genome is, this is the book for you. Science is full of numbers that are inconceivably tiny, or astrologically immense, and most of these numbers are beyond what the average human mind can readily comprehend. Analogies allow us to scale these numbers down (or up) to something meaningful, and give us a way of understanding the relative lengths, sizes, capacities, and distances of the natural world.

As a lay person with a casual interest in science, I found this book to be full of clever explanations for sometimes complex topics. As a tutor, I was delighted to discover new ways of presenting challenging concepts to students. There are often multiple analogies for the same idea, so if one example doesn't "click", another one probably will. This would be an excellent gift for any science teacher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Reich on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a book filled pages like the first few...simple analogies that I can use to convey science ideas in my business speeches. The book is pretty to look at but some of the analogies are a bit vague and some of the material is presented in a very confusing way.

I loved the billiard table in the dark. It analogizes that if a ball moves in a particular direction, we could figure out that something struck that ball and from what direction it was struck. But the rocket and the elevator is a mess---a subject I well understand yet I could barely make sense of the words.

I was amused for about an hour. Now, it might be picked up up occasionally or a "fun fact". My main criteria for a 5 star book is this: Would I buy a few as gifts? In this case, no.

Look for Physics for Future Presidents. (5 stars!)

Chris Reich
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