Top positive review
23 people found this helpful
EXPERIMENTING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS!
on October 25, 2008
Upfront FYI: (I should have written this review years ago; my apologies to everyone.) I was the main translator of this book from the Portuguese version to English, although Eduardo added many new experiments in his very good English, which I merely polished. I even enjoyed doing dry runs on all the experiments to make sure pieces were counted right, fit together right, etc. In fact, this was how I first met Eduardo. I was (and am) retired and living in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil, with my Brazilian wife, Maristela. Back in the 1960s I was a physics major in college (but got my bachelors in math, etc). My native English was still good (although I keep forgetting it more and more), and my Portuguese just passable enough for me to try, so I wangled the job. I was very lucky to have done so. Eduardo's enthusiasm for finding new experiments with new insights was contagious, and his philosophy for sharing his love and knowledge of physics inspiring. (And they still are!) I have known Eduardo as a friend for years now, and it is always a pleasure to meet with him and find out his latest experiments and successes in improving science education around the world.
The most important thing I want to say here is that Physics, Fun and Beyond is much more than just your usual book of a bunch of physics experiments for kids. Sure, it helps that a real effort was made to make sure all the experiments could be done with recycled and low cost materials. But Eduardo has a philosophy of teaching kids TO LOVE EXPERIMENTING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS, not just to obtain a result they are told in advance they should obtain. Although the publisher/editor insisted that he add some of that, which Eduardo did well, his philosophy of actually experimenting to find out what happens makes his Physics, Fun and Beyond quite special, (I hope merely almost) unique.
But there is more. I can affirm this as I was a physics major for years (at the U. of Illinois). We were always doing experiments in the lab. But the experiments we did in the lab were "canned experiments" where we knew what results--quantitative, of course--we should get. But MORE than this, ALL the lab experiments were not only COMPLETELY oriented toward QUANTIFICATION, but to FITTING the RESULTS to ESTABLISHED THEORY. NONE were just to "find out what happens". Most of the experiments in Eduardo's Physics, Fun and Beyond are experiments that you will NEVER PERFORM if you go through what has been the standard school route to become a physicist; you will never "find out what happens" in so many fascinating real world situations that Eduardo has collected, having discovered/invented very many or most of them himself. The physics of PhD physicists is a "completely" different world from the one you will enter if you perform all the experiments in Physics, Fun and Beyond. These worlds SHOULD be ONE WORLD, but our schools and scientists do not yet realize this. Since the experiments are so low cost in preparation time and materials, adding them to grade school science classes, high school science classes, and even to undergraduate and graduate university science classes, would be budgetarily on the trivial side.
Many of Eduardo's experiments give results that are difficult to figure out how to describe QUALITATIVELY, even though you can form inspiring mental models of what is happening. This adds to the joy of experimenting, even if it is at times frustrating (like when trying to tell someone about it). And, too, many of them are essentially impossible to figure out how to QUANTIFY, how to measure (even if you had the best scientific lab equipment available) and get the usual "meaningful numbers", etc, even though it is joyfully obvious that real physics is happening right before your very eyes. The experiments are simple, but do not mistake that for scientifically naïve or unsophisticated. Some of them are "elementary" in the best scientific sense of that word. We can even toss in Thomas Kuhn's "paradigmatic", or some such. If such experiments as these were standard in our science education, our science would find itself rapidly evolving in new directions.
Eduardo's Physics, Fun and Beyond, invites children, grownups, and even professional physicists, to experience a WHOLE NEW WORLD of physics that they may never find (or may never have found) in school, unless their teachers wisely make good use of this book. (I hope there are others like it, though I have not yet found them.) And I recommend it in no uncertain terms for you professional physicists out there, ESPECIALLY those experiments in the area that you think of as your specialty.
Physics, Fun and Beyond is an excellent book for curious children of any age who want to find out what happens, even better for "gifted" children of any age, and for anyone who wants to help our science of physics to realize the full potential of its future evolution.