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For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics Paperback – February 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"In this fun, engaging and accessible book, Walter Lewin, a superhero of the classroom, uses his powers for Good - ours! The authors' share the joy of learning that the world is a knowable place."--James Kakalios, Professor and author of The Physics of Superheroes and The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics

About the Author

Walter Lewin taught the three core classes in physics at MIT for more than thirty years and made major discoveries in the area of X-ray astronomy. His physics lectures have been the subject of great acclaim, including a 60 Minutes feature, stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek and US News and World Report. They have also been top draws on YouTube and iTunes University. He was awarded three prizes for excellence in undergraduate teaching. He has published more than 450 scientific articles, and his honors and awards include the NASA Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, the Alexander von Humboldt Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He became a corresponding member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1993. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Warren Goldstein is a professor of history and chair of the History Department at the University of Hartford. A prizewinning historian, essayist, and journalist, he has had a lifelong fascination with physics. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and many other national periodicals. His prior books include Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball and William Sloane Coffin, Jr.: A Holy Impatience.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1St Edition edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145160713X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451607130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Chris Reich on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If physics has rock stars, Walter Lewin is one. If physicist rock stars can have groupies, I confess to being one.

As I read the publisher's text about the book, I felt a little blush. Could that refer to me?! Truly, Walter Lewin's online lectures changed MY life. Sounds silly? Well it's true. Not only did I get very interested in a subject I thought out of my grasp, but I continued my education in physics. I "discovered" a lot of application of physics to my business practice. To shorten the story, I use physics in my business and my clients have benefited greatly and my career has blasted off.

Now, the book is like listening to Dr. Lewin talk. For a fan, what could be better? The videos of his lectures might be better but they are very math intense. The book is light on the math. That's good.

I do wish the book had more than than the too brief picture collection about 2/3'ds through. I would like some illustrations to go with the topical discussions. Still, overall, I love the book but that's because I see Dr. Lewin as a sort of virtual mentor. I could never afford MIT or qualify to get in to MIT. Dr. Lein's lectures opened MIT to me.

So a physics fan, and especially a Walter Lewin fan, will love the book. I hope every one of his students will buy two copies (I did)---cherish one and give the other away. Your gift may inspire the next Einstein (male or female).

The only negative? That beautiful Dutch accent, which lends itself to physics, doesn't come through in print.

Great read.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By George Poirier on June 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have very little doubt that any university freshman who has had Professor Lewin for any physics courses will never forget the experience. Why? The book's cover says it all. In the first 69% or so of the book, Professor Lewin discusses basic physics - touching upon various topics such as Newton's Laws, gravity, optics, sound, electricity, etc. The physics is very elementary such that a science buff is not likely to learn anything new here. But the highlight of these discussions is the joy of discovery that they impart to the reader. The author's enthusiasm and amazement for his subject matter is truly exceptional. Throughout, he describes various demonstrations that he's done in class in order to illustrate some particular points - and relishes his students' reactions. He goes out of his way to ensure that the students have fun and will remember what they've seen. Also located in the earlier part of the book is a bit of autobiographical information: mainly Professors Lewin's childhood in his native Holland during World War II and how difficult and horribly tragic life was at that time.

In the next few chapters, comprising about 27% of the book, Professor Lewin discusses his professional life and achievements in x-ray astronomy. This was a treat for me because, once again, his enthusiasm does not cease to grace every page and the details that he provides were mostly new to me. Finally, in the last chapter, he discusses mainly his love for modern art.

Written in clear, very friendly and lively prose, this book should be of particular interest as much to high school students and university freshmen for the clear information that it contains as to the seasoned science buff for the way it is expressed and for the information on the discovery and evolution of x-ray astronomy. If all science classes were taught like Professor Lewin teaches his physics classes, there would probably be more scientists in the world.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful By J. Seigle on July 11, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a well-written book to whet your appetite for physics, if you know nothing at all about physics yet have a burning desire to learn about X-ray astronomy. I would think that narrows the audience a bit.

Physics was my favorite subject in college, and I have continued to read books for the layperson (Hawking, Greene, Kaku, etc.). Those authors have a way of explaining new leading developments in modern physics in a way that speaks to the non-scientist. Lewin has a way of explaining basic, established Newtonian physics that is easy to understand but won't appeal to many of us who have had a college course or two in general physics, or even a really good high school physics course. The best audience might be high school students who are about to take their first physics course.

This first part of the book takes on a conversational tone, talking down a bit, taking pains to reach us on our own level, almost like Mister Rogers if he had taught physics. ("See how revealing good measurements can be?")

The first two-thirds of the book covers a range of interesting topics, although I think that one of the author's favorite topics is himself and his wonderful teaching style. He has received countless accolades for his classroom presentation, and cares about teaching a lot more than many physics professors who phone in their lectures while focused on research, so he deserves credit. But he really wants us to know that he is able to get his students to roar with laughter, or shriek in delight--"The students' eyes widen....As you may imagine, it's really very dramatic and my students are always quite shocked.
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