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Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality (English Edition) Paperback


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Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality (English Edition) + For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 582 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Press, San Francisco, CA; 3rd edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0935218084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0935218084
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Every so often I pick up a book that I wish I read 10 years ago.
Brian Jo
This book by Epstein is one of my better investments for secondary school (or undergraduate/graduate) physics books.
Frank Jung
I love the way Epstein explains things in everyday language and examples.
Douglas Elliott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brian Jo on September 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every so often I pick up a book that I wish I read 10 years ago. Feynman's Lectures on Physics and Van Hess's Thermodynamics are among these, as well as Polya's How To Solve It for those more mathematically inclined. These would have certainly saved me from much confusion during my college engineering curriculum, for they focus on teaching the material to the reader, as opposed to masking it in the equations of a textbook. Some lucky folks have the ability to glance at equations and immediately grasp their meaning; for the other 99.99% of us, an intuitive explanation replete with real-world analogies helps to bring the meaning to life.

With a presentation both unique and entertaining, Lewis Carroll Epstein's Thinking Physics has certainly claimed a rightful seat at the roundtable of wonderful didactic books. Every page poses a question that challenges the reader on his view of the physical world, and nearly every answer tears down the fallacies of his intuition. Socrates would have been proud of the format, with each new question expanding on concepts developed in earlier answers. One of the 1-star reviews mentioned a lack of organization. This criticism completely misses the point. It is NOT a textbook, so "obviously" it will lack some of the rigorous development of concepts and precise organization that you would expect in a physics text. It IS a popular physics book with lots of cartoony pictures that a kid in elementary school could both enjoy and understand. At the same time, the insights will help build anyone's physics intuition, regardless of age. I read this book when I was 30. I have since started going through problems in Kleppner and Kolenkow and some other more advanced texts, and I really think this book helped.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on April 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love this book. I bought this book in 2002 and it has been wonderful, useful, entertaining and worth every penny. At first I used it as a way to prep myself during my internship teaching high school physics. Now I have a 7 year old and a 9 year old, and I use this book to help me explain the world around us. Sadly (or wonderfully) I want to reference this book more frequently that I remember to bring it with me. Although I love the printed version, I need a kindle version too, :), and I would gladly pay the original cover price all over again...
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ken Braithwaite on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Epstein presents a bunch of physics problems, and solves them all -- almost without any math -- with clear, insightful, elegant solutions. A brilliant book useful from grade 10 to grad school.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frank Jung on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book by Epstein is one of my better investments for secondary school (or undergraduate/graduate) physics books. Although I do not use it as a text, I have taken advantage of the problems posed within as warm-up questions to engage the students on the topics at hand(in addition to the hands-on demonstrations.) My students can really get fired up by some of the classical problems and the illustrations that accompany every questions within. The answer keys are highly intelligible as well as entertaining.

However, do not underestimate the questions as merely for the beginning students of physics: they are far from that realm. Some of the questions are challenging enough even for the professional physicists, and in fact even for Newton himself.

If you are intrigue, go buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By queenidog on October 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this book twice...or maybe 3 times. It is the greatest book I have ever read and the best book on explaining physics. It is the only one of over 200 physics books in my library that I did NOT give away! Why? Because I have to read it again and this time not cheat on the questions.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Squitieri on March 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent low-math book that covers many everyday concepts in physics, allows anyone to think through everyday problems and gain experience in thinking without doing calculations or sitting through endless ball-rolling-down-ramp labs. It shows ways that physicists and scientifically literate people think about physics problems in general terms. I've seen it on many shelves- grad students, postdocs and professors, teaching or not, since my undergrad days 25 years ago , alongside Art of Electronics, Jackson, Halliday/Resnik , and a book of integrals. Fine for junior- and high school students, and even younger with parental guidance. Many kids have sensible questions about why e.g. a bike stays up or who you really wouldn't want to run into on a football field, and the answers to them, and nice sketches too.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Willey on August 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
We originally bought this book in the late 80's. It sits in our bathroom and gets more use than Uncle John's! It has insightful problems that often don't require the use of math. The problems often seem common sense, but OUCH! It's like those game shows when you know the answer must be the one that's outside the box. Of course, then the next problem will bite you when you realize you common sense isn't so screwed up after all!

After each problem is an explanation, that's easy to understand, usually less than a page, and is usually explained in such a way that you will say... "DOH"!

The same real world problems your physics teacher made seem SOOOOoooo Hard and complicated to solve/understand will suddenly be lit with a hundred light bulbs.

As I said before, this book sits in our bathroom, is constantly read and doesn't need a calculator next to it. Although some of the solutions do use math, this book breaks them down into simple math problems.

As for the 1 star review by the scientist. That indicates how great this book is. A book with a description of "..cleverly designed Q and A book for physicists of all ages." may be an indicator that the problems do not require a background in calculus.
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