Although Bloomfield demonstrates considerable knowledge about the history of science and technology, his aim is clearly to explain how things work rather than how they were developed. Thus his treatment of the transistor very appropriately jumps straight to the field-effect transistor, which is fairly easy to understand, without first explaining its more complex predecessor, the bipolar transistor.
Bloomfield also shows excellent judgment about how far to dive in. (One exception here is his cursory treatment of magnetic resonance imaging, a technology that is admittedly very difficult to explain in anything other than a superficial manner.) His section on the microwave oven, for example, helped me finally to understand how a cavity magnetron works. Bloomfield also straightened me out on the difference between a turbojet engine (above, right) and a turbofan engine (left), a distinction I hadn't at all appreciated. And he even clued me in on why the front fork of a child's bike isn't curved forward. All but the most hard-core technophile should find many similar moments of enlightenment in this delightfully informative book.—David Schneider
From the Inside Flap
When you stop to think, the ordinary technologies and natural phenomena all around us can seem quite extraordinary. Today’s cars, computers, copy machines and other technologies may appear to operate according to some dark, unseen magic. But the truth is, fundamental physics principles can explain how every technology works––no matter how jaw dropping or complex.
Now with Louis Bloomfield’s How Everything Works, you can get inside the seemingly inexplicable gizmos and gadgets that are part of the fabric of your everyday life, and understand the physics that makes them work. An acknowledged expert on physics as it applies to everyday life, Bloomfield uses fascinating and fun examples, along with a unique ability to explain challenging concepts, to bring the subject of physics to life.
As How Everything Works examines everything from roller coasters to radio, and knuckleballs to nuclear weapons, it provides the answers to such questions as why the sky is blue, why metal is a problem in microwave ovens, and why some clothes require dry cleaning.
Filled with intriguing insights, How Everything Works is nothing short of a user’s manual for our everyday world. Even if you’re not the kind of person who typically likes to take things apart to see what makes them work, you soon will be.