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Instant Physics: From Aristotle to Einstein, and Beyond [Paperback]

Tony Rothman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 21, 1995 0449906973 978-0449906972 1
For all of you who break out in a sweat at the thought of thermodynamics, or freeze up at the mention of quantum mechanics, like a bolt from the blue, INSTANT PHYSICS will zap you through the fascinating history of our most basic, yet baffling, science.
From the thousand-year search for proof of the existence of the ever-elusive atom to the varied and heated arguments behind the big bang theory, INSTANT PHYSICS answers all the heavy questions with a light touch. You'll learn:
* How the Greek philosophers used the sledgehammer of mathematics to break apart the mysteries of the physical universe.
* Why gravity is a "romantic" force.
* How to tell the difference between a gluon, a meson, and a quark, even if you can't see them.
INSTANT PHYSICS is crammed with special features, including chapter summaries, who's who lists, biographical and historical tidbits, and a host of illustrations, photos, equations, diagrams, and drawings.

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Instant Physics: From Aristotle to Einstein, and Beyond + Train Dreams: A Novella
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

I have no mathematical skills. Well, that's not entirely true: I can add and subtract. I can even divide and multiply a bit. But other than that I am pretty hopeless. So physics is definitely not a part of my daily life in any way, shape, or form.

Now, I work on a lot of Science Fiction books. And occasionally these books bristle with concepts in physics. A lot of the time the physics used does not exist yet in this time and place, but every once and a while there's something that needs to be checked. That's when I go to my reference shelf and dig out a copy of Instant Physics. It's amazing what Rothman can help you understand, even if you only have rudimentary skills in the mathematics department.

A. Krijgsman
Associate Managing Editor

From the Inside Flap

For all of you who break out in a sweat at the thought of thermodynamics, or freeze up at the mention of quantum mechanics, like a bolt from the blue, INSTANT PHYSICS will zap you through the fascinating history of our most basic, yet baffling, science.
From the thousand-year search for proof of the existence of the ever-elusive atom to the varied and heated arguments behind the big bang theory, INSTANT PHYSICS answers all the heavy questions with a light touch. You'll learn:
* How the Greek philosophers used the sledgehammer of mathematics to break apart the mysteries of the physical universe.
* Why gravity is a "romantic" force.
* How to tell the difference between a gluon, a meson, and a quark, even if you can't see them.
INSTANT PHYSICS is crammed with special features, including chapter summaries, who's who lists, biographical and historical tidbits, and a host of illustrations, photos, equations, diagrams, and drawings.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (February 21, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449906973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449906972
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing, surprisingly complete introduction January 3, 2004
By SPM
Format:Paperback
This is a lot like other 'physics for beginners' books, with a few important differences. First, Tony Rothman is a good writer. He keeps the text light and fun. Exploring the secrets of matter and energy is easier when you have a sense of humor, and he knows it. Second, the basic facts appear at the beginning and end of each chapter for easy review. It's a convenient way to organize the book.
Third and finally, Rothman dives right into the mathematics of physics without apology. Sure, this stuff can boggle your mind if you don't have a head for it. But I'd rather have them there, in the book, so I can see them. I've read too many 'physics for beginners' books without any equations and I had no idea just how complex the math is. With this book, I can see that it's not THAT hard. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in physics. It's one of the better introductions to the subject.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Physics a Joy to read to the layman March 8, 2003
Format:Paperback
Do read this book. Even though it is a physics book, the author does not treat physics as a subject to be studied, pondered on, examined minutely- all of us carry the horror experiences from school and college classes. I picked this book after leafing through the foreword, where the author TonyRothman strikes an immediate chord with the reader. This is no ordinary physics book- the language is simple, the style humorous, the author very understanding and having a knack not to push things too hard.
The book is an overview of the subject of physics. It charters the birth and growth of physics , from the greek times to the post-einstein period. Unlike other general books, the author sticks to the subject without going off in tangent on irrelevant issues. So, the book is not hefty. It's around 200 pages of neat print.
The author tackles all the important theories of Physics in a fun and engaging manner. Newton's laws, Kepler's laws, Laws of thermodynamics, Electromagnetic laws, Einstein's theory of special relativity, atomic structure, Blackbody radition , photoelectric effect, Quantum mechanics, E=mc2; Wave theory, Light duality, Uncertainity principle, Einstein's general theory of relativity.
It's an amazing effort, since the book is addressed to the layman with little knowledge of physics.
I am no physics buff. I read this book by serendipity and could never put it down. I strongly recommend this book. My only regret is that i should have got this book during my school years. Giving this as a gift to the teens in the house would be a wonderful idea too.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Instant Physics: Years ago I was browsing through the science section of my favorite bookstore when I opened this book casually leafing around it's pages when I came across the first sentence which begins the Introduction, "If you are a potential victim of this book, leafing through its pages while obstructing traffic in the science isle of your favorite bookstore, there is a good chance you took a physics course in the vanished days of your youth". What a cowinkydink huh? He goes on, "Perhaps you now want a refresher or perhaps, feeling guilty at your ignorance of the central role played by science in modern society, you merely wish to become a more cultured individual. In any case your knowledge of physics is inexcusably weak and, if you have indeed been exposed to the subject before, you probably regard the word `physics' as synonymous with `plague,' as in `to be avoided like the'." OK, I'm hooked! I flipped back to the dedication which almost makes me cry out in joy, "To my students, known and unknown. The known, who demonstrate with crushing directness that it is impossible to be too clear. The unknown, who suffer in silence." I believe that he is addressing myself: I am an unknown student who silently yearns for information that would be presented clearly, accessibly; information that I can process into comprehension. I have yet to take a formal Physics course at a college or university (members only please). I love being surprised! (Don't you?) Dr. Rothman delivers this humble students unsolicited silent plea for attention grabbing/attention keeping material in this succinct & concise presentation of the salient principles of the physical sciences. Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Honor of IndiAndy's Part One Review September 19, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Part Two:
Here are a few features of the format:
1. Each chapter has an attention grabbing box titled `YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS' - the first one states, `Don't memorize, understand'.
2. Throughout each chapter, there are these beautifully succinct little indented notes. For example the, `GUIDING PRINCIPLE: To know physics is to do physics.' and `PRINCIPLE OF LITERARY OVERSIGHT: textbooks may be straightforward and succinct, but the path of science is crooked and tortuous.'
3. Key words are highlighted in bold text throughout the book to grab your attention along with slapstick or sit-com pronouncements like `THE YOUNG AND THE RADIOACTIVE' and `PHOTOEFFECT OPENS SUPERMARKET DOORS AND CONFIRMS THE QUANTUM HYPOTHESIS' just to give you an occasional chuckle
4. There is a `Who's Who' box in each chapter which humorously highlights the historical principle players in physics (This book is not just a history of the physics & the men & women who made it.)
5. There are a few photographs, some good diagrams to convey important visual illustrations and cute (ok mostly silly) little cartoons help break up the seriousness of the subject. This book never takes itself too seriously. A humble virtue that he deeply admires!
6. There are a series of `math lite' demonstrations interspersed throughout the text appropriately labeled, `DEMO' which the author assures you will only require high-school algebra (he says that, "We use nothing more than addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division--promise! (well, maybe the occasional taking of a square root...))" This scared IndiAndy a little because he's borderline incompetent in some of the intermediate algebra mathematics. Nevertheless, he need not worried, the demos are not required to get the concepts.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and clear
I first bought this book out of curiosity, and when I read it, it was extremely engaging, and very well organized to give people an introduction into physics. Highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by William
5.0 out of 5 stars Great way to explain physics!
Absolutely excellent.... I was so impressed with the easy reading and understanding of this book. I would recommend this to everyone!
Published 7 months ago by Carlee Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent attempt at making physics painless for non-scientists
The book is is pretty complete - while it doesn't cover every topic of physics that is out there under the sun (no pun intended), it does more or less provide a chapter each... Read more
Published on June 2, 2012 by dyagmin
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
If you are really interested in reading a book that gives and provides an in depth preview about physics, this would the most imitable book to read. Read more
Published on March 24, 2012 by Chase Moore
2.0 out of 5 stars Far From a "Complete Education" in Physics
It is extremely misleading, in my opinion, to state on the cover of the book : "A complete education without the tuition. Read more
Published on December 26, 2011 by LJ
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother buying this book
I can't figure out who the audience is for this book - I think it's too difficult for most non-physicists to follow and understand and too "cute" and oversimplified for physicists... Read more
Published on May 4, 2011 by Joe D.
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice overview
This is a nice overview of physics; covering: mechanics, the idea of atoms, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, quantum mechanics and... Read more
Published on September 24, 2010 by Peter J.
4.0 out of 5 stars Physics That Are Fun
I don't understand physics very well. After reading this book, I think I understand physics better. It can be a difficult topic and Mr. Read more
Published on November 30, 2000 by Richard La Fianza
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Summer Refresher Before 1st-yr Undergrad Physics
"It is obvious to see that..." are the six little words that often result in slackened-jaw syndrome in first-year engineering students: gone is the calculator physics of... Read more
Published on July 11, 1999
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