Driving Force: The Natural Magic of Magnets Revised ed. Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0674216457
ISBN-10: 0674216458
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Editorial Reviews


“[A] delightful little book...[Livingston] connects magnetism to both past and present human culture and its underlying technology. This connection ranges over an incredible breadth of topics and personalities, a few (nonscientist) examples of the latter being James Bond, Plato, Ben Jonson, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jonathan Swift, Mary Baker Eddy, Dick Tracy, Uri Geller and Madonna...A smashing book...I wish there were more science books for the general population written with so engaging an approach.”Paul M. Grant, Nature

“Livingston introduces magnetic principles through eight "facts about the force," and uses these to explain the theory behind later examples of applications. Mixed in with this excellent educational approach is a history of magnetism and its influence, which takes in everything from Plato to Gilbert and Sullivan...The book is an excellent and comprehensive look at magnetism and its applications. It is a good read for materials (and other) scientists, a thorough introduction to the subject for the layman, and, to boot, a useful reference text for students.”Steve Hill, Materials World

“Here is everything you ever, ever wanted to know about magnets...Covering subjects ranging from the science of magnetic forces to that great magnet in the sky, our planet, to the fakes who assure you that magnets will improve your wine and your sexual prowess, Livingston has written a book that is easy, entertaining, and often fascinating.”Leon M. Lederman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988, and author of The God Particle

“This fascinating book gives a historical view of science undergirding the technology we use daily at home and in the workplace...[Livingston's] clear explanations, background information, and creative use of analogies guide any interested reader smoothly through the concepts [such as electromagnetic theory, the microstructure of matter, and quantum electrodynamics]...Livingston writes with a passion that grows out of his lifelong interest in materials science, and his personal experiences are woven throughout this scientific adventure story. He has a knack for keeping the science stimulating and the historical connections exciting...I recommend this book highly for readers who want to know the science involved in everyday applications of technology...This is truly a tour de force on magnetism.”Science Books & Films

“Livingston's engaging style and evident love of his subject should go far in attracting readers to a study of magnetism. Many of the applications discussed in the book are fascinating in their own right...Driving Force is a welcome addition to the library of books that seek to popularize hard science.”G. Lyle Hoffman, American Journal of Physics

“Any book that has jacket blurbs from D. Allan Bromley, Leon Lederman (with pun) and Dave Barry has got to be worth investigating. For those who maintain a collection of books in the style of David Feldman's When Did Wild Poodles Roam the Earth? (HarperCollins, 1992) or David Macaulay's The Way Things Work (Houghton Mifflin, 1988), this is another one for the shelf...Livingston has devoted much of his career to magnetism, first at General Electric as a physicist in the materials department and more recently as a senior lecturer in materials science at MIT. He also tells a good story...[T]he book is mostly a serious and comprehensive discussion of the field, carefully crafted for the nonspecialist...I highly recommend the book, both for enjoyable reading and as a valuable source of information on the history of magnetism.”Frederick R. Fickett, Physics Today

“The book deals exclusively with magnets, describing past, present, and future applications and history. Livingston's light and conversational style makes the material easy to read, quite accessible, and rather entertaining. His lifetime of experience with magnets, both at MIT and while doing research and development with General Electric, which he refers to often, comes through is his thorough treatment of the subject.”Joel M. Rosenberg, The Tech (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Driving Force is a popular science book about magnets and how they have affected our lives, written to be easily understood by any intelligent and interested person...After covering the basic physics and material science of magnetism in the early chapters, Livingston discusses application of magnets to a wide variety of instruments and technologies. Those include the use of magnets in home appliances, toys, magnetically levitating trains, and medical imaging devices. Perhaps what distinguishes this book from most others of its type is that throughout, one also reads about connections with history, politics, economics, literature, art, popular culture.”Choice

“Dr. James Livingston makes the physics of magnetism clear in this marvelous book, Driving Force. Livingston writes in a delightfully readable style. Readers will not only learn marvelous facts about lodestones, how the earth generates its own electromagnetic field, and the role of magnetism in nearly every modern technology, but they will also see how pseudosciences have exploited the mystery of magnetism.”National Council Against Health Fraud Newsletter

“In about 300 pages [Livingston] takes us on a magical mystery tour...For the layperson, it is a wonderful way to learn about how magnets are hidden in almost all modern technology used in war and peace--radar, microwave, ovens, maglev trains, etc...For the science teacher, I cannot think of a better way to integrate all disciplines of math and life and physical sciences than this book...I can see teachers using the information for their own self-enjoyment and in the classroom as a great tool for integrated science teaching: it could easily be a text book in the hands of a great teacher.”Ken Brady, Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers

“Dr. Livingston presumes that some consumers, perhaps latently curious about their microwave oven beyond its instant zapping capability, wonder how the contraption works. In that appliance, as in dozens of others, Livingston describes the key as a magnetic device originally invented for a completely different purpose, in this case, for the radar that defeated U-boats in World War II...On top of making unexpected technology connections, Livingston simplifies Maxwell's electromagnetic theories into nine principles of magnetic behavior, whose action he regularly reminds the reader of during his crystal clear explanations of what, for example, makes a maglev train levitate or magnetic resonance imaging resonate...A stimulating variety of science, history, and technology delivered enthusiastically.”Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

From the Back Cover

Driving Force unfolds the long and colorful history of magnets and makes their workings a matter of practical wonder.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Harvard University Press; Revised ed. edition (April 25, 1997)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 334 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0674216458
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0674216457
  • Item Weight : 1.07 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.13 x 0.91 x 8.76 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 16 ratings

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