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The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics (Sterling Milestones) [Hardcover]

Clifford A. Pickover
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2011 1402778619 978-1402778612 0
Following the hugely successful The Science Book and The Math Book comes a richly illustrated chronology of physics, containing 250 short, entertaining, and thought-provoking entries. In addition to exploring such engaging topics as dark energy, parallel universes, the Doppler effect, the God particle, and Maxwell's demon, the book's timeline extends back billions of years to the hypothetical Big Bang and forward trillions of years to a time of “quantum resurrection.” Like the previous titles in this series, The Physics Book helps readers gain an understanding of major concepts without getting bogged down in complex details.


Frequently Bought Together

The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics (Sterling Milestones) + The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (Sterling Milestones) + The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicine (Sterling Milestones)
Price for all three: $47.51

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Clifford A. Pickover received his PhD from Yale in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and has written more than 40 books and over 200 articles on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human intelligence, time travel, alien life, religion, and the history of science. . Currently, he is an associate editor for several scientific journals and holds over 60 U.S. patents for inventions dealing with computer graphics and interfaces. His research has received considerable attention from such media outlets as CNN, the Discovery Channel, The New York Times, and WIRED, and his Web site,, has received millions of visits.

Product Details

  • Series: Sterling Milestones
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402778619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402778612
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 7.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From my publisher:

Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over 30 books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, religion, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, and science fiction.

Pickover is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, is the associate editor for several journals, the author of colorful puzzle calendars, and puzzle contributor to magazines geared to children and adults.

WIRED magazine writes, "Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." According to The Los Angeles Times, "Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art and thought."
The Christian Science Monitor writes, "Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas." Pickover's computer graphics have been featured on the cover of many popular magazines and on TV shows.

His web site, Pickover.Com, has received millions of visits. His Blog RealityCarnival.Com is one of his most popular sites.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely The Physics Book October 20, 2011
Although Clifford Pickover is the author of over forty books, it has been two years since we have seen him produce a new one. It has been worth the wait. "The Physics Book" is a perfect companion to his work of 2009, "The Math Book." Both books present us with 250 milestones in their fields. However, their temporal scopes differ. While "The Math Book" covers a period from 150 million BC to 2007, seemingly a good chunk of time, "The Physics Book" outdoes it by orders of magnitude in both the past and the future. "The Physics Book" starts with the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, and as if that is not enough, goes past 100 trillion years into the future to finish with Quantum Resurrection.

For each milestone, there is a page of explanation facing a full-page image, which illustrates the milestone. The images include photos, works or art, and even U.S. patents. My favorite images are the close-up photo of a hand holding a boomerang, what looks like a bowling ball next to a baseball plummeting from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and a supernova explosion. One charm of the book is that the images are not always the expected ones. For example, Pickover's idiosyncratic world view shines through in his use of a muskrat standing in for Brownian Motion. According to the book jacket, the author's inventiveness has resulted in over seventy U.S. patents. This inventiveness is apparent in the choice of images.

Going cover-to cover, I see several themes emerge. The first is the physics of the very large: cosmology and astronomy. The second is that of the very small: particles, waves, and quantum mechanics. These two themes run from the very beginning to the very end.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
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.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant Encore November 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The Physics Book" is Clifford Pickover's latest version of the illuminated scientific manuscript. This stunning, visually impressive work is a beautiful companion piece to its award winning predecessor, "The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (Sterling Milestones)." In this effort the principles of physics (250 in all) are distilled into single pages of text with accompanying illustrations on the pages to the right. As in "The Math Book" you have an opportunity to focus upon the matter at hand as it etches its essence into your memory without your becoming distracted by other brain teasers that comprise the field of physics (or mathematics) in its totality. And as soon as you feel myopia setting in, you can simply turn the page and it's as if a new episode of "Star Trek" has begun.

The waters run pretty deep as you peruse the pages, but difficult-to-fathom concepts are skillfully explained. "Pauli's Exclusion Principle" (page 340) is a perfect example. Most descriptions I've read of it are rather abstruse, unless you are a physicist. But Pickover provides a wonderful illustration that says it all, one that clearly demonstrates that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. You'll find this artwork quite humorous if you love dogs.

Then, as you scan page after page, the fundamental importance of physics in our everyday lives becomes increasingly obvious. The mystery of the "Baseball Curveball" is explained (page 238).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book and serie but like the the Math Book it deserves a paperback version.
Published 17 hours ago by S. C. Rocha
4.0 out of 5 stars nerds
Got this for my brother for Christmas and he loves it. He's a math/physics major and flipped through this book in no time. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Zachary S. Pierce
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book... very engaging and informative
Have you ever wondered about physics? What it is, and why it's important? This book is a great introduction to the various aspects of physics. Read more
Published 2 months ago by It's That Guy Phil
4.0 out of 5 stars nice picture book
I like the series. Also the math book. The physics book does not match the math book but is a nice inspiration. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Oliver Knill
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting.
This was an interesting book. It by no means teaches you physics but does give insights into the subject by brief discussions of major events, discoveries, and concepts in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by The Godfather
5.0 out of 5 stars Greqt page-long tidbits of info for short or longer bouts of reading.
I love this series of books. Scholarly, yet written in an easily accessible way. They make great table books, too.
Published 5 months ago by Hans
5.0 out of 5 stars Geeky coffee table book
Yup, it was a gift for a geeky household. It's often read during commercials & the show becomes forgotten....... Good for adults & inquisitive kids. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Lots of pictures, not enough content.
This book has lots of pretty pictures but for each subject there is never more than a page of text. The Big Bang, Newton's Laws, Black Holes, Einstein's Special Theory, all get a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sydney Self
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening fun!
Gives you a nice intro to all those interesting discoveries.
Physics can be fun.
I want to know more now!
Published 9 months ago by pierre veniot
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for novice
Interesting and informative. Can read it and think about it casually. Liked it enough to give one as gift. Recommend for broad range of people.
Published 11 months ago by Reed S. Johnson
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