- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Walker Books; 1 edition (November 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802717705
- ISBN-13: 978-0802717702
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity 1st Edition
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While the size of the universe can be gauged down to the level of electrons and out to unimaginable distances trillions of light-years away, most of us live within a very narrow, middle-range slice of day-to-day observation. With the aim of enhancing our appreciation for the dimensions we don’t normally perceive, prolific science writer Blatner takes a closer look at six scales of measurement, or spectrums, with which our lives are daily intertwined: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us. In Numbers, for instance, we learn that engineers could not calculate rocket trajectories without imaginary numbers. Light attempts to elucidate the mind-bending paradox that light is both a particle and a wave. Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner’s work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eye-opening and fun. --Carl Hays
“Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us….Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner's work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eyeopening and fun.” ―Booklist
“I found myself charmed and, yes, even amazed by some of Mr. Blatner's examples.” ―Peter Pesic, The Wall Street Journal
Top customer reviews
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"Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity" is a wonderful, educational book that provides a scale across six spectrums representative of our everyday experience: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Author David Blatner takes the reader on an exploration of the universe, from the smallest to the incomprehensively large. This 192-page book is composed of the following six chapters: 1. Numbers, 2. Size, 3. Light, 4. Sound, 5. Heat, and 6. Time.
1. An engaging, entertaining and an accessible book for the masses.
2. Very engaging prose which is atypical in science writing.
3. Excellent layout.
4. Great use of charts, illustrations and tables to assist the reader.
5. Immersed with thought-provoking quotes and interesting anecdotes.
6. A lot of great tidbits. Spoiler alert..."The only countries that haven't standardized on the metric system are the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia."
7. The author does a wonderful job of not just explaining complex topic to the reader but making it fun to do so.
8. The essence of numbers. Getting a grasp on numbers.
9. Infinity in its proper perspective.
10. Sizing up size, distance...helpful analogies.
11. Perhaps the best chapter in the book, Light. The author does a wonderful job of explaining the basic physics of light. A lot of complex topics made reachable to the general audience.
12. An excellent chapter on sound, the author provides plenty of interesting factoids and many great visual aids such as a table of "Intensity of Selected Sounds" and an excellent comparison pictorial of frequency hearing ranges among popular living creatures including humans.
13. The essence of heat, temperature...the scientists behind the greatest discoveries associated with the aforementioned topics.
14. Phase states of material. A table of phase change of popular elements.
15. Very promising science underway. Controlling fusion? The Large Hadron Collider...
16. An exploration into time. Atomic clocks, time zones, cosmic time...
17. The theory of relativity.
18. The book ends on a little philosophy.
1. A very limited notes and bibliography section.
2. The book covers a narrow "spectrum" of science.
3. Intended for the general audience. If you are looking for depth look elsewhere.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book. The author's engaging prose and ability to convey difficult scientific topics in an accessible way will win over the general audience. One really does get a better grasp of how infinitesimal and how enormous our universe truly is. This is the perfect book for the layperson interested in learning some of the basics of physics without sacrificing too much time. The book covers a narrow "spectrum" of science but what it covers it does so very well. I recommend it!
Further suggestions: "About Time" by Adam Frank, "The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction" by Peter Atkins, "For the Love of Physics" by Walter Lewin, "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100" by Michio Kaku, "A Universe from Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss, "Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World" by Lisa Randall, "Wonders of the Universe" and "Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?)Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe" by Brian Cox, "The Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe" by Simon Singh, and "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking.
If you have a background in science then the start of each chapter is a very thorough review of that topic.
However he goes far beyond a review and ties so much together.
It is a journey out into the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond..... perhaps.
It is a journey down and down into the ultra smallest of our world.
It all fits together, its fascinating and understandable.
We come to understand that in the whole vastness of time, matter, radiant energy and more we are just a very, very tiny blip-
Not all that important in the grand scheme of things.
I do recommend this book. It is a grand cruise through so much - good stuff all.
You can always reach out to a higher level of expertise - however, this book will provide you with that baseline knowledge which will help you focus on those specific fields or levels of learning needed.
For the knowledge you gain, it is well worth the price.