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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amdahl deserves a teaching award.
I just recently finished reading this book. The motivation for reading this book was, ofcourse, to learn electronics, both analog and digital, and to ultimately be able to build out ideas that I have floating in my head for the last several years.
The cover of this book caught my eye, and flipping through the pages, I could tell the book was definitely not dry. But...
Published on August 25, 2003 by Godfrey T. Degamo

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cute Book for Newcomers to Electronics
Many of the reviews for this book are quite misleading, as they're actually inside jokes about the book itself rather than serious reviews, which might have set my mood before reading so adjust my review as you see fit.

In a terse summary, this is an entertaining view on the fundamentals of electricity and historically basic electronic components but the book...
Published 21 months ago by Yeorwned


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amdahl deserves a teaching award., August 25, 2003
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
I just recently finished reading this book. The motivation for reading this book was, ofcourse, to learn electronics, both analog and digital, and to ultimately be able to build out ideas that I have floating in my head for the last several years.
The cover of this book caught my eye, and flipping through the pages, I could tell the book was definitely not dry. But was it good? I looked up some of the reviews and all of them were positive from some more reputable sources: National Public Radio/ Car Audio and Electronics / Science News / Radio Electronics Magazine. So I decided to purchase the book.
This book introduces basic concepts of eletronics by use of analogies; imagery of little green men, chickens, and magicians to get his points across. Amdahl was impressed that his children could comprehend the entire Star Wars universe after watching the movie for 2 hours, and he figures he could do the same with electronics.
Usually the format goes, introduce a theory with the usual electron jargon, translate the jargon into a story about Greenies who want to party. Repeat a few times, then review the last few sections with a story about Greenies and electron jargon.
The concepts learned are pretty basic. It doesn't get into much detail, or formulas except for the two basic ones where a component is in series versus in parallel. Semi-conductors are covered.
The stories themselves are somewhat entertaining. And they help you *some what* remember the concepts you learned. Amdahl has borrowed a concept used by mnemonics.
However, the stories can be quite long. Some sections have five pages worth of stories to go through, and none of it has to do with electronics, or analogies. Just pure entertainment. I'd rather he just make analogies, and keep the narrative to the minimal. Remember, the more unusual, the better remembered, and to have a long narrative in a story helps make the bizarre imagery rational, thus losing it unusualness.
The stories themselves with the electronics makes this book -for me- worth 3 stars. What makes this book worth five stars is the following.
The book got me over my 'procrastination' hump and into learning electronics. I also liked the analogies and at times Amdahl pretty much comes out and says there are no really good analogies to electronics and everyday life. You'd be foolish to think that the dry textbooks know it all, and he gives some examples of how explanations in textbooks don't really make sense.
That's a big thing, because having forgotten the electronics I learned in highschool, I do remember knowing the rules and how to apply them, but feeling quite anxious about not understanding. which I felt hindered my remembering the subject. Remember, whatever the textbooks or physicists come up with, it is only a model of reality, a mental construct, which just so happens to be the best at the time, but can change.
I also liked the homemade gadgetry he introduces to people which I see lacking in many textbooks on the subject.
The repetitive nature of the concepts introduced along with regular 'review stories' helped to remember important concepts.
Finally, and most important of all, I like the inventive spirit the book seems to have. Kenn Amdahl manages to cultivate your imagination, definitely not something you'd find in other textbooks.
So the negatives of the book. I mentioned one. The stories could be too long at times. The imagery is not 'continuous' first it was green men, then chickens and ducks. The other major problem is that there is no index at the end of the book. There were a few times I wanted to look up a term, but couldn't remember where in the book I read it first.
For those that are impatient and need to learn electron theory fast, I don't recommend this book. It's not detailed enough and the jargon and concepts are not introduced fast enough. But if you are not in this category, this is a great book to start.
(Right now, I am reading as my second book 'electricity: a self teaching guide by Ralph Morrison. It's a good book so far.)
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thank god for kenn amdahl....., April 12, 2000
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
.....for without him i would still be wandering around in the dark, and probably hurt myself with my ignorance. I just finished reading this book (in the course of less than a day, I might add) and felt a desperate need to log on and tell the world what I've discovered. Here it is; are you Ready? there is an absolute genius named Kenn Amdahl who wrote this book that any sixth grader could understand with ease (heck, most fourth graders will probably get it too) but is chock full of info that very few people (of any age) will ever know. For Anyone who wants to know how electricity works and what all those little random bits of plastic inside your walkman are and how they preform their mysterious tricks, you have to have this book. I have never ever enjoyed learning something so much in my life. I couldn't put this book down! (I finally couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and had to get up in six hours for work; nothing else could stop me!) truly useful knowledge was never this much fun! you could read this book just for kicks even if you didn't care about electronics. If teachers learned how to communicate like this, kids would be Begging to go to school and not come home until six or seven at night. and while you're throughly enjoying yourself you will all of a sudden realize that you know, understand, and can even apply all that nonsense that you've been trying to grind out of hundred dollar textbooks. You have no idea at all what a deal this is! ) for anyone who wants to learn how it all works, or already knows but still doesn't get it, this book is hope. Amdahl coaxes the genie out of the bottle, ties him to a table makes him tell you how all the magic actually happens. I don't trust reviews any more than you do, and it usually take seeing five or six of them that all sound about the same, and all sound reasonably sane (to some degreee at least) before i'll start to believe the opinion of people i don't know. I hope this review is number five or six for you, because this book deserves to have songs written about it. Please, Please take the risk and get the book. I Promise you won't be dissapointed. (you'll be too busy laughing at silly metaphors and understanding complex and abstract concepts)
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So That's How It Works!, April 17, 2003
By 
John Downing (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
I'm a Professional Engineer with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and 15 years experience in the field. As a result, I was living under the delusional assumption that electronics had something to do with electrons. Fortunate for me, Ken came along and set me free of this silly idea.
After all those years of math, physics, and chemistry, I've never been very comfortable with electric shock therapy, or electricity in general. Ken's book has changed my outlook entirely. Now I get up in the morning and can't wait to turn on all the electrical gadgets in my house.
I recommend this book to anyone trying to understand electrical theory. Ken's book is entertaining and very memorable. He takes one of the most complex topics in modern science and reduces it down to a level that even an engineer like me can understand.... Now that's an accomplishment!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing electricity from the perspective of the electrons, June 13, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
Computers, in 2003, have combined many features of low-level electronics, radio, basic electricity, and electromagnetism. Understanding what's inside the box, and even many of the system components that come with a new computer, depends on having some sort of knowledge of things like transistors and capacitors. What's the difference between SRAM and SDRAM, DDR-SDRAM, and RDRAM?
Until recently, I thought electricity "flowed" from positive to negative. When I learned it was the opposite, I wondered about everything else I'd learned. This book is one of the few outside of histories of Nikla Tesla that really speaks to the foundation of our knowledge of electricity. Using an ongoing model where electrons are "greenies," Amdahl creates a combination of science-fiction, and swords and sorcery to lead us into the microcosmic world of particle physics, magnetism, and how the two intertwine.
I thought it was a great book, easy to read, and filled with humor. Sometimes the humor had so many twists and turns it became fairly insane; but how often does a science textbook ever really capture our imagination as "just a plain book to read?"
There are lots of highly complicated books about electricity, but few of them define the fundamental concepts in such a way as to make them memorable. Amdahl's book reminds me of the "For Dummies" series of computer books, particularly the early ones. Many times he mentions technical jargon or certain formulas, but then goes on to tell us not to worry about learning them. Oddly enough, by the end of the book, you've learned them anyway.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning Electricity Through Story-Telling, July 27, 2004
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
This book is very cleverly written. It's the learning of physics concepts through story-telling and it's very effective. When I was trying to understand one of the ideas of inductance, my mind immediately "grabbed for" the Greenies surfing analogy, and it helped immensely. This is sort of like mnemonics for physics.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dump your college text and read this first, January 11, 2001
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
I read this book after struggling through my first semester of Electricity and Magnetism as a college freshman. It provies an excellent conceptual primer that leaves the reader with an intuitive feel for how E&M works.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars most unconventional way to learn about electricity, November 5, 2006
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
I am a mechanical engineer who is still trying to find a reasonable model to apply it electrical phenomena. this book has help me a lot.

One thing, I lived in the US from 1974 to 77, so a bit of the lingua spoke of those years was there in my subconcious. If you were not there in the 70s and definitvely, if english is not your mother language, I can also guess at the difficulties of following the little man who speaks 70s groove to explain electricity.

Still, its a wonderful story that will make you think and re-think about how to go around this electrical stuff. Is it complete? can any analogy refreing to electricity be? maybe if all complex phenomena were to be explained by storytellers like Mr. Amdahl, our students would be much brighter.

PS- Mr . Amdahl once replied and e-mail I sent him thanking him for the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic approach to understanding electricity, July 26, 2006
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
This book brought the concept of electricity to life. It made the subject easy to understand and if you can forgive the title it could go a long way in helping people who are new to the subject get a better grasp of the concept. This book would make a great introduction to the fundamentals of electricity for a young reader or a person with little background in the subject. they could then use this new found knowledge to expand their understanding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the book you've been looking for., August 4, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
I found myself wanting to learn about electricity so I bought a couple of books on basic electricity and electronics and somehow managed to stay awake long enough to read them. If you had then asked me a question about basic electricity I probably could have answered it correctly but I would have been bluffing; I wouldn't have_really_understood my own answer. Then I read THERE ARE NO ELECTRONS. Just try asking me now! Kenn Amdahl is a genius. Buy the book and you'll agree.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about electronics that will entertain you while teaching you, May 24, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings (Paperback)
Before I discuss the book a little of my electronics background: I took a military electronics course and graduated near the top of my class. I spent my military career troubleshooting and calibrating aircraft navigation and communications equipment A few years later I am now an assembler for a company that manufactures commercial transmitters. I have had experience working with electronics off-and-on and am developing a hobby interest in electronics, but I NEVER FELT LIKE I UNDERSTOOD IT at all. Kenn Amdahl's book has changed that.

"There Are No Electrons" is Amdahl's attempt to make learning electronics easy and fun by more-or-less rejecting electron theory (which is, after all, a model for understanding electricity but not the whole truth), mocking jargon, and bucking the establishment of science teachers and engineers who seem to think that the study of electricity has to be obscure, difficult, and boring. The book uses the literary framework of the author writing the book (an absurdly funny, fictionalized version) and being inspired by his encounters with a "Greenie" and a Wizard. Within this framework are many bizarre and hilarious metaphors, analogies, and sub-plots used to explain electrical current and electronics components. These include little green men, break-dancing chickens, human lightning, racing ducks, buffalo crossing bridges, and time-traveling wizards.

I do have some prior electronics experience, but I honestly think that this book would even be perfect for someone who has never touched a multimeter or read a schematic. Amdahl helps you understand by getting you to think in different ways and laughing the whole time. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in electronics, whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned professional. However I do not think that engineers will enjoy this book because it consciously attacks the way they have been trained to think.

There Are No Electrons is a genuinely entertaining book that kept me reading every page. Even if you have no interest in electronics you may still find this to be an enjoyable humor book.
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There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings
There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings by Kenn Amdahl (Paperback - September 12, 2006)
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