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Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity Hardcover – November 13, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0802717702 ISBN-10: 0802717705 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717702
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

While the size of the universe can be gauged down to the level of electrons and out to unimaginable distances trillions of light-years away, most of us live within a very narrow, middle-range slice of day-to-day observation. With the aim of enhancing our appreciation for the dimensions we don’t normally perceive, prolific science writer Blatner takes a closer look at six scales of measurement, or spectrums, with which our lives are daily intertwined: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us. In Numbers, for instance, we learn that engineers could not calculate rocket trajectories without imaginary numbers. Light attempts to elucidate the mind-bending paradox that light is both a particle and a wave. Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner’s work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eye-opening and fun. --Carl Hays

Review

Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us….Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner's work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eyeopening and fun. (Booklist)

I found myself charmed and, yes, even amazed by some of Mr. Blatner's examples. (Peter Pesic, The Wall Street Journal)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Citron on November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Who knew? David Blatner's SPECTRUMS will blow your mind with smart and smartly written facts about things as basic as sound and light. Like taking a class from a great teacher, Blatner knows how to make sense of heady concepts. The illustrations and photos also help to make their point, as do the pithy quotes from people as diverse as Einstein and Steven Wright. A fun and fascinating read for the intellectually curious, that's never pedantic or boring.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity by David Blatner

"Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity" is a wonderful, educational book that provides a scale across six spectrums representative of our everyday experience: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Author David Blatner takes the reader on an exploration of the universe, from the smallest to the incomprehensively large. This 192-page book is composed of the following six chapters: 1. Numbers, 2. Size, 3. Light, 4. Sound, 5. Heat, and 6. Time.

Positives:
1. An engaging, entertaining and an accessible book for the masses.
2. Very engaging prose which is atypical in science writing.
3. Excellent layout.
4. Great use of charts, illustrations and tables to assist the reader.
5. Immersed with thought-provoking quotes and interesting anecdotes.
6. A lot of great tidbits. Spoiler alert..."The only countries that haven't standardized on the metric system are the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia."
7. The author does a wonderful job of not just explaining complex topic to the reader but making it fun to do so.
8. The essence of numbers. Getting a grasp on numbers.
9. Infinity in its proper perspective.
10. Sizing up size, distance...helpful analogies.
11. Perhaps the best chapter in the book, Light. The author does a wonderful job of explaining the basic physics of light. A lot of complex topics made reachable to the general audience.
12.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim Schultz on March 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read the book and found that it took complicated subjects and presented them in a very understandable format. I have been using this book as a reference to teach my grandchildren. On Saturday, one of my 7 year old grandsons brought the book to me and said can we read so more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kryptonite on February 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Each chapter is a cruise through a part of our universe.
If you have a background in science then the start of each chapter is a very thorough review of that topic.
However he goes far beyond a review and ties so much together.
It is a journey out into the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond..... perhaps.
It is a journey down and down into the ultra smallest of our world.
It all fits together, its fascinating and understandable.
We come to understand that in the whole vastness of time, matter, radiant energy and more we are just a very, very tiny blip-
Not all that important in the grand scheme of things.

I do recommend this book. It is a grand cruise through so much - good stuff all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lelia M. Russell on July 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must for anyone that is curious by nature and need complicated things explained in laymen's term. Buy for your kids!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Christensen on December 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many, many interesting bits of information. Prompted me to develop a completely different perspective of the world. In the normal course of the day, you never think about much beyond the 'normal'. This book was an eye-opener.
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By ServantofGod on March 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
On page9, the author quoted from Pascal, "Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed." Thanks to his excellent presentation in wise words, shrewd figures, smart charts and interesting pictures, my fair share of the aforesaid incapabilities as a human had been lessened, at least a little bit. In short, highly recommended! A great gift from parents to children indeed!

p.s. Below please find some of my favorite passages for your reference.
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? - George Carlin pg5
Information is a difference that makes a difference. - Gregory Bateson pg7
Distance lends enchantment to the view. - Mark Twain pg29
You can visualize a package of light leaving the surface of the sun at the stroke of 12:00a.m.. At just after 12:08, it would reach Earth (1AU away). By 1:00p.m. the light would have traveled past Jupiter....It wouldn't reach the outer edge of our solar system until 20 months after it left the sun. pg39
As far as astronomers can tell, our universe likely has a radius of about 46 billion light years. This is far, far larger than it should be if the universe is - as astrophysicists also believe - only 13.7 billion years old. Pg45
The only animal that can see both infrared and ultraviolet light is the goldfish. Pg75
Speed of sound in different material (m/sec): CO2 259; Air 20*C 343, Distilled water 1497, Gold 3240, Pyrex Glass 5640, Steel 5790 pg87
Arthropods such as spiders and cockroaches have special hairs on their legs that can sense sound. The antennae of mosquitoes and many other insects can sense minute variations in air pressure. Pg102
Absolute hot (Planck Temperature) 1.42 x 10*32K, Sun's core 15 million*C, Center of Earth 6650*C, Filament inside light bulb 2500*C, Alcohol freezes -114*C, Gasoline freezes -150*C pg121
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More About the Author

David Blatner is the author of 15 books, translated into 14 languages with over a half-million copies in print, including "Spectrums," "The Joy of Pi," "Real World InDesign," and "The Flying Book." As an expert on digital publishing, he has lectured in five continents over the past two decades. He and his wife and two sons live, explore, and write outside Seattle, Washington.

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Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity
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