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The Cartoon Guide to Physics [Paperback]

Larry Gonick
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 18, 1991 0062731009 978-0062731005 Reprint

If you think a negative charge is something that shows up on your credit card bill -- if you imagine that Ohm's Law dictates how long to meditate -- if you believe that Newtonian mechanics will fix your car -- you need The Cartoon Guide to Physics to set you straight.

You don't have to be a scientist to grasp these and many other complex ideas, because The Cartoon Guide to Physics explains them all: velocity, acceleration, explosions, electricity and magnetism, circuits -- even a taste of relativity theory -- and much more, in simple, clear, and, yes, funny illustrations. Physics will never be the same!

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The Cartoon Guide to Physics + The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry + The Cartoon Guide to Calculus
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Editorial Reviews Review

It's been said that before physics students can fly with Feynman they need to walk with Halliday and Resnick. Those of us who are still toddling along, however, need Larry Gonick. Gonick's characteristically quirky drawings are teamed with physicist Art Huffman's prose to produce lessons like this: picture Sir Isaac Newton driving a Mack truck labeled "Big Inertia." Ike is talking into a CB radio, saying: "Breaker one nine: force overcomes inertia and produces acceleration. Do you read?" As the jacket copy says, "If you think a negative charge is something that shows up on your credit-card bill--if you imagine that Ohm's law dictates how long to meditate--if you believe that Newtonian mechanics will fix your car," here's the book for you. --Mary Ellen Curtin


"Gonick is close to being one of a kind." -- --Discover

"Gonick is close to being one of a kind." -- Discover

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPerennial; Reprint edition (December 18, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062731009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062731005
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as The Cartoon History of the Universe June 28, 2000
I was delighted when some time ago I received two volumes of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe as a present from a friend. It is absolutely hilarious! Being a physicist, I considered it a must to add Cartoon Guide to Physics to my Larry Gonick collection.

However, I was disappointed. The guide indeed tries to cover a significant amount of the usual high-school physics course - mechanics, electricity and magnetism (missing are thermodynamics and optics) - but it is not really as charmingly funny as the Cartoon History of the Universe. As a physicist, I can assure you that the problem does not lie in the simple fact that the history is more interesting topic than physics - physics is plenty interesting, thank you! But the desired blend between the textbook and the cartoon resulted in something that is not educational enough to actually learn something from it and too boring to make a good cartoon.

Trying to find some bright spot, I am happy to report I have not discovered any major flops in the science part of the book. Also, I believe the book actually becomes somewhat more interesting toward the end. But then again, if I would have to choose between, say, the chapter on relativity and Joseph Schwartz's Einstein for Beginners, I would probably opt for the latter.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gonick strikes again October 19, 2001
This is my third Cartoon Guide, and was purchased after CG to Stats and CG to Genetics. I'm convinced now that I'll just have to buy every single one of Gonicks's guides.
Whenever possible, I have avoided physics classes--they scare me--which is difficult to do. But knowing this, I became obsessed with facing my fear and picked up this book (and a few others). I wasn't disappointed. Although it wasn't as easy to follow his other two books (perhaps because I'm more familiar with the subject of the other two books), it made physics more interesting, and less scary. I was able to reread sections and then cross reference them with a 'real' physics text until I got the point.
I'm still no physicist, and I never will be. But I've got a basic grasp now that I didn't have before, and can understand the simple physics of the world around me. However, the biggest kudo I can give to this book is this: I've enrolled in a physics course at the local university--a course I don't *have* to take but want to take. It's something I never would have done without this book easing my fears and taking the mystery out of the subject.
Bravo Gonick! Where's the Cartoon Guide to the Quantum Theory?! We're waiting....
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LEARNING PHYSICS CAN BE FUN March 8, 1999
By A Customer
I have a degree in Physics from 37 years ago and picked this book up after browsing for a few minutes. The book is GREAT, OUTSTANDING, FUN TO READ, WELL ORGANIZED and EXPLAINS a lot about the every day physics we live in. This book is a must for students interested in learning more about physics. I am going to buy a couple of other titles by this author for my library.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, fun way to learn a difficult subject. January 12, 1999
By A Customer
If you haven't seen these Cartoon Guides before, you are in for a treat! They are a FABULOUS way to teach science. This book covers a broad range of physics from Mechanics to Electricity and Magnetism. But the whole book is a cartoon that creates most enjoyable reading. Whenever I get one of these books, my preteen asks to borrow it! (He's also learned genetics this way). Although it does not contain experiments as such, the presentations of scientific history and principles are great. Definitely a necessary book for older children, teachers and professionals...from The Science Spiders(TM) Newsletter
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Outstanding May 31, 2004
It makes all the physics concepts and math in my high school physics class easy to understand. If I were on a textbook adoption commitee, I would buy class sets of these. Cartoon Guide cuts the nonsense and filler of your average high school physics and goes straight to the heart of the matter in a way that is accessible yet not at all dumbed down. Thank you Mr. Gonick for helping me get an "A" in physics! I was using a classroom copy. Now I will buy my own for when I go to college.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning with a light touch April 15, 2003
The primary hurdle to overcome in learning the basics of physics is believing that it is indeed possible for you to learn them. Motion, electricity, magnetism, light and even relativity are all based on fundamental ideas that are well within the grasp of most people. Your reach and the strength of your grip will both be amplified by the contents of this book. Using simple diagrams and plain language, you are walked through a basic physics course, from the concept of linear motion to the most "bizarre" consequences of relativity.
Gonick it truly one of a kind when it comes to the explanation of complex phenomena using drawings and cartoon-like dialog. It is one of the rare literary creations, a book that educates in science that is also fun to read. There are no sharp edges of difficulty, it is much like one of those disciplinary paddles with a pillow on the end.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction Or Refresher July 4, 2006
By Dave_42
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Cartoon Guide to Physics", first published in 1990, is one of a series of Cartoon Guides which Larry Gonick has co-authored with scientists in the field of choice; in this case it is with Art Huffman who is in the physics department at UCLA. Outside of Larry Gonick's excellent "Cartoon History of the Universe" series, this is the best of his books that I have read.

There are two sections in the book: `Mechanics', and `Electricity and Magnetism'. The first section deals with motion, forces, Newton's Laws, Energy, and associated topics. The second section deals with electricity and electrical fields, and magnets and magnetic fields. It also touches on relativity and quantum electrodynamics. They do not cover topics such as String Theory or Chaos Theory, which have become increasingly more publicized since this book was published.

This book works well as an introduction to the topic, or as a refresher. There is not enough substance for this to serve as a text book, nor do they provide a bibliography to assist the reader in finding more in depth books on any of the topics. However, Gonick does a wonderful job of blending the history of the field with the topics that are covered, and he does so in a way which does not overwhelm the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very easy to understand.
Published 3 days ago by gogotrilobite
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, lacks depth
If you are struggling with first semester Physics, this book might help you understand some parts of it. Read more
Published 18 days ago by StarStuff
4.0 out of 5 stars More on quantum physics?
The book is excellent and on par with other Larry Gonick Cartoon Guides. The part on electromagnetism, however, is boring (to the author's standard), as if the author had gotten... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Lasaro Camargos
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book
I like the style of the writing. It's a nice book for beginners or "idots" to understand the complicated concept through the beautiful explanations in this book.
Published 1 month ago by Santata
5.0 out of 5 stars Very intertaining
This book is an intertaining approach to learning physics, it is an easy to read book and hard to put down and yet you learn so much
Published 2 months ago by Mary Echternacht
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST!
Where were these books when I was a kid? These books are fun to read and easy to understand, Thanks Larry!
Published 3 months ago by TRONICS-INSTRUCTOR
5.0 out of 5 stars Physics enjoyment
I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Huffman as a lecturer in college physics. He made the subject come alive in the lecture hall. In this book, I can almost relive the experience. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike Ventura
3.0 out of 5 stars Can physics be interesting?
It is not as interesting in material or as attractive as his usual books, but the 14 year old is reading it. If I had seen it, I probably wouldn't have bought it.
Published 5 months ago by lois mansperger
5.0 out of 5 stars First time I understood Centrifugal Force!
I heard arguments about why centrifugal force does not exist when I was in college but never resolved it in my head until I read this book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. Nityanandan
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute, quick read
Made purchase to see if I could use it as a classroom read for my basic physic students. Illustrations are easy to understand; appropriate for high school. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Thomas Blodgett
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