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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
In this book, the prolific writer Clifford Pickover leads us through an astonishing variety of inventions and discoveries that reveal the sheer range of the science and application of physics, from the Big Bang to the transistor. Starting from the Big Bang itself 13.7 billion years ago, Pickover judiciously picks key years in the history of physics and describes inventions and discoveries made during each year along with the names of the relevant scientists.

For the most part Pickover's choices are both varied and important. What I really liked about this book was the sheer variety of topics Pickover treads on; from the mundane-sounding but important (gas laws) to the technologically revolutionary (transistor) to the practically amusing (baseball curveballs, the "drinking bird") to the philosophically earth-shattering (Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) to the exotic and wondrous (Dyson spheres, Randall-Sundrum branes, quantum immortality). The examples illustrate the tremendous power of physics to both explain and practically enrich the world around us, at every different scale and dimension that we can conceive.

The problem I have with the book is that it limits the discussion of every single topic to a single page. I understand that Pickover's goal was to give us a sampling of the wonders of physics rather than any comprehensive overview, but his one-page descriptions of topics as important as relativity, quantum mechanics and cosmology left me hungry and restless for more. It seems unfair and incomplete to devote a page each to both the lava lamp and the uncertainty principle when the latter is far more important for physics. In my view Pickover could have easily reduced the number of entries by about ten percent, devoted an extra page or two to the really revolutionary discoveries and still retained the diversity of topics. Ultimately the book does serve as a glimmering showcase of the reach of physics, but it leaves you wishing that the author had delved a little more into the things that really matter.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I purchased this book on a whim after seeing it at a friend's house. The "milestones' selected are sometimes questionable, but it definitely takes you through a scientific historical journey from a physics perspective. Several of my friends have enjoyed looking through it, so it ended up in the guest bathroom (oddly enough).
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have to agree with the other non-5 star raters who were somewhat disappointed with this "physics book". It provides a lengthy but very cursory view of many famous physics ideas but screams for more details. If the author had at least provided even the most basic of principles behind the ideas and perhaps smaller photographs, the book would been perhaps more helpful to budding young potential physicists. Only 4 complete pages on Isaac Newton seems embarrassingly insufficient.

As another rater has wrote, a good coffee table book.

But not even close as even an introductory physics book.
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