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Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines Paperback – September 21, 2009
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“A triumph.” (Steve Weinberg - Boston Globe)
“An outstanding example of public communication of science.” (Kenneth R. Foster - Science)
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Top Customer Reviews
When I recommend this book to my better-informed friends, the most frequent question I get back is, "What does he say about Global Warming?" Those who are looking for pithy sound bites will be disappointed. Those who fear a boring professorial-type lecture will be pleasantly surprised. Dr. Muller presents well thought-out rationales for each section, and his delivery has been refined in the classroom by teaching non-physics students at the University of California, Berkley.
I appreciate Dr. Muller's respect for his readers (and future Presidents.) He does not try to impose a hidden agenda upon us. Dr. Muller clearly states his premises and the physics of his findings flows nicely from them
Here is a sketch of my views, as a physicist, on what the reader can expect.
Terrorism: Dr. Muller discusses the high energy content in the jet fuel carried by each hijacked airplane that hit the towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He later describes the likely limitations of a terrorist's dirty bomb. He reminds us that Jose Padilla, an American with extensive al-Qaeda training, proposed to build a dirty bomb. Padilla was directed instead to blow up two apartment buildings using natural gas.
Energy: Dr.Read more ›
The book isn't an easy read, and there are enough graphs and equations to set aflutter the hearts of even the most intrepid of nonscientists. But Muller recognizes this possibility, and recommends that nonscientific readers go for the big picture, not allowing themselves to get bogged down with details that might be too complicated on a first run-through. And the big picture--or rather big pictures--he wants us to understand are the science behind bombs and biological weapons likely to be used by terrorists (chapters 1-4), the fossil fuel crisis (chapters 5-7), nuclear energy and nuclear weapons (chapters 8-14), space technology, including space weapons (chapters 15-19), and global warming (chapters 19-25). Especially helpful are the "Presidential Summaries" in which Muller offers convenient wrap-ups of each of the five topics he discusses and some quick public policy recommendations.
My guess is that many readers will find his section on global warming the most interesting and contentious. Muller concludes that global warming is a reality, but one which has been exaggerated in certain ways.Read more ›
Professor Muller reveals the real story, the promise and the limitations of solutions to topics such as these: Nine-Eleven, terrorist nukes, the next terrorist attack, and biological terrorism; key energy surprises, solar power, and the end of oil; radioactivity; nuclear weapons, nuclear power, nuclear waste, and controlled fusion; space and satellites, humans in space, and spy satellites; history of climate change, the greenhouse effect, evidence and false evidence, non-solutions, real solutions, and new technologies.
My personal biases: I have a background in both physics and management, and practiced both during a 35-year career with NASA. I do not know Professor Muller, but have admired his work since I discovered his "Physics for Future Presidents" podcasts on iTunesU. I highly recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book as a requirement for a short 5-session class I was taking. Some of the info is dated since the book was written in 2008, but Physics is Physics. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandra L. Cohen
An interesting book but not as useful as another book by this author "Energy for Future Presidents". Read morePublished 2 months ago by H. B. P.
Best review of the science not politics of issues that the world faces today. This book should be required for all high school students and up.Published 2 months ago by Jerry Perez
Great book and an easy, straight-forward read. If this book were a required textbook for high school students, the world would have a more realistic view of the world. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. DUBOIS
Energy for Future Presidents is better, similar material, but a more recent publication date, so more pertinent.Published 4 months ago by T.Strauss
Finally, someone gets past the hype and clap-trap and sheds some light on energy policy choices based on real science. The result is sobering, yet illuminating.Published 5 months ago by Lawrence Siden