- Paperback: 736 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470170662
- ISBN-13: 978-0470170663
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 10.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Books on how things work often adopt a format that gives equal space to each device described. So the flush toilet, say, might get the same number of words devoted to it as the internal-combustion engine, even though the latter is far more complicated. In How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary, Louis Bloomfield avoids that trap by taking just as long as he needs to explain things. And that's exactly what he does, explain things, his chapters having such titles as "Things That Involve Light," "Things That Move With Fluids, "Things That Involve Chemical Physics" and so forth. The result is something of a cross between those familiar (and often less-than-satisfying) how-it-works guides and a full-blown physics textbook.
Although Bloomfield demonstrates considerable knowledge about the history of science and technology, his aim is clearly to explain how things work rather than how they were developed. Thus his treatment of the transistor very appropriately jumps straight to the field-effect transistor, which is fairly easy to understand, without first explaining its more complex predecessor, the bipolar transistor.
Bloomfield also shows excellent judgment about how far to dive in. (One exception here is his cursory treatment of magnetic resonance imaging, a technology that is admittedly very difficult to explain in anything other than a superficial manner.) His section on the microwave oven, for example, helped me finally to understand how a cavity magnetron works. Bloomfield also straightened me out on the difference between a turbojet engine (above, right) and a turbofan engine (left), a distinction I hadn't at all appreciated. And he even clued me in on why thefront fork of a child's bike isn't curved forward. All but the most hard-core technophile should find many similar moments of enlightenment in this delightfully informative book.-- David Schneider
From the Inside FlapSee all Editorial Reviews
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I have bought hundreds of things from Amazon, books and otherwise, and have never felt the need to leave a review. This book is so phenomenal in its clarity, depth, and topic range that I simply feel obligated to rave.
Although I'm a grad student in CS my knowledge of physics is very weak, and there was a time when I dreaded physics in college. So when I ordered this book I was expecting something along the lines of an idiots guide. When it arrived, the textbook-like layout almost scared me off from reading, but when I started I couldn't put it down.
Almost every big question I've asked myself about the physics of the world I live in is answered clearly in this book, given our current state of knowledge. The planets and their relationship to calendars and cycles, eclipses and tides. Electricity. Light. Electromagnetics. Semiconductors. Airplanes. Buoyancy. Nuclear reactors. Power production, and on and on and on. So much, and described so well, that I've decided to put several weeks aside to enjoy this book.
For instance, in answering a question about electricity the author will take you on a seamless journey from Edison's initial ideas to modern distribution systems, to resistance, to types of current, to transformers, to voltage, to generators and motors, down to individual components like capacitors and semiconductors.
And the detail and flow is just beautiful. Prof Bloomfield achieved a very rare, delicate balance between being overly simplistic, and drowning the reader with unnecessary details. This sets the book miles apart from anything I've ever read about physics. [Note: This is fortunately no longer true, see my update below.]
It's actually quite remarkable to know that so many who came before us have spent countless lifetimes trying to obtain the knowledge that is now on the pages of a book like this. Most people take these things for granted. And then there's a tiny minority amongst us who choose to know and understand.
--- Update 09/07/2015 ---
Eight years later I still believe this book is excellent, but I am also proud to be able to make two additional recommendations (#2 is particularly amazing thanks to the available audio):
1. The New Way Things Work
A brilliant illustrated guide much like How Everything Works, yet very much original and often presenting concepts from a different angle. It has often helped me fill in the gaps.
2. Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher
Richard Feynman needs no introduction to a student of Physics, but this is what happens when a Nobel prize winning physicist teaches the fundamentals of physics to a laymen audience. Shockingly it is also available in audio format, with digitally remastered audio from Dr. Feynman's lectures in 1960s! You can listen to the actual lectures as if you were sitting right in his classroom, and I've found these great to listen to in the car.
Hopefully all of the above will give you a sufficient introduction and roadmap to the wonderful world of Physics :)
If you are wanting a true "heavy science" technical book about Physics, this is not it. However if you would just like to "know" how certain things work, this book is the best I have seen. I think this book would be great for teenagers, and I have to admit, it's nice to know exactly how those elevators work, why planes can fly, and a ton of other common devices and contraptions as well. If you have any interest at all in how things work, you will really enjoy this book.
It makes you understand so many things.
The author totally attains his goal: showing that most physics rely on the same simple principles, and that even complex theories, once disassembled, are within reach of anyone.
What also makes it so good is that physics are demonstrated through every day use things, so you feel compelled and can apply your new knowledge on your world.
1 Note though: if you have never opened a physics book, or if equations gives you chills, then this book is not for you. This is not entertainment science, it's the real deal with easy access.