Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
The stories and images will stick with any child for a lifetime.
on August 10, 2009
THE NEW WORLD OF MR. TOMPKINS by George Gamow, and revised by Russell Stannard, is 258 pages long and is printed on off-white paper. There is a ten page glossary defining words such as "momentum" and "quark." There are 45 ink drawings, many of which feature Mr. Tompkins, his fiancée Maud, and Maud's father a physics professor. For example, one of the drawings teaches relativity by disclosing a bicycle rider cycling near the speed of light, and flattened because of this high speed (in a town where the speed of light is about 25 miles per hour). Another drawing shows a small closed universe (and a smaller planet), where you can toss a book into outer space, and where the book will return from the other side of the planet after a few hours.
Generally, the layout takes the following form. One chapter will contain a lecture by the professor. While the next chapter will contain Mr. Tompkin's dream, where he is in a fantastic land where the theory from the lecture is demonstrated. For example, in an early chapter, we find Mr. Tompkins in a land where the speed of light is only 25 miles per hour, and where bicycle riders appear to be flattened, when viewed by bystanders on the sidewalk. In another chapter, we find Maud and the professor inside a glass of a beverage, watching molecules of water whiz by, bumping into microscopic chunks of barley, and admiring the orderly array of water molecules in a nearby ice cube. This particular chapter illustrates Maxwell's Demon, and teaches the second law of thermodynamics. Maxwell's Demon can best be explained, or supplemented, by a Maxwell's Demon computer game that is easily accessed for free on the internet. It consists of fast-moving red dots and slow-moving blue dots, distributed evenly inside a rectangular box. The operator (your child) can operate a gate that separates the two halves of the box, eventually resulting in all the fast dots being located in one side, and the slow dots in the other side.
The book is best read to children by an adult who has taken college physics and is able to explain the stories. Now, if only there could be another Mr. Tompkins storybook that illustrates Newtonian physics. FIVE STARS.