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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 24 reviews
VINE VOICEon 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.
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on July 11, 2001
The famous physicist and excellent popularizer of science George Gamow wrote the original version of this book "Mr Tompkins in Paperback" in 1965. Since then the understanding of the physical world from its smallest to largest entities has shown much progress. Thus the book, which was once one of the best classics in the genre of physics popularizations, needed a revision to continue its role of introducing the modern knowledge of fundamental physics to laypersons.
Russell Stannard, an able popularizer of science, courageously tackled this difficult problem of modernizing "Mr Tompkins." Four chapters out of 17 are entirely new. Old chapters describe the theory of relativity, quantum physics and atomic and nuclear physics through Mr Tompkins' adventurous dreams and a series of lectures given by "the professor" to the lay-audience. Tompkins is among the listeners of the lectures, gets acquainted with the professor's daughter Maud, and . . . Maud's look, hairstyle and dresses in illustrations and the episode of romance have also been modernized. The new chapters treat black holes, a high-energy accelerator ("atom smasher") and the results of physics gotten by it, quarks and the Standard Model, and the relation between the life of the Universe and particle physics.
Even the old chapters have been rewritten considerably. For example, Chapter 2 newly tells about an experimental evidence by neutral pion decay for the constancy of light speed, demonstration of relativistic time dilation at CERN by the change of life time of muons traveling at high speed, etc. The "twin paradox" of relativity has also been added in Chapter 2, and its further explanation is given in Chapter 3 (here is a minor but confusing error of "she" and "he" wrongly interchanged). I like this addition very much, because the "paradox" bothered me even after I had learned the theory of relativity at a university. (For a more complete explanation of the twin paradox, I recommend Max Born's "Einstein's Theory of Relativity" to readers of an inquiring mind.)
Being one of old Japanese fans of Tompkins, I feel a little sorry that the name of Hideki Yukawa has disappeared from the present version. Surely, his meson theory of nuclear forces became outdated, because constituents of nucleons and mesons, i.e., quarks and gluons, had been discovered. However, Yukawa's theory was a strong driving force for the birth of particle physics, and a good place where his name can be mentioned remains in Chapter 13 (in the original version it appeared in a later chapter, which has been omitted in the present version).
I highly recommend this book especially to young people who wish to major in physical sciences. There are a small number of simple equations of relativity and formulas of particle reactions. For those who are eager to learn about mysteries of the micro world and the universe, however, the presence of these would not be any hindrance to the enjoyment of the book but rather be an attractive feature. Some of old fans of Tompkins would also read the new version to welcome Stannard's good job.
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on January 12, 2008
The original version of this book (actually written by George Gamow) was recommended by my college astronomy professor. This book is the revised version, as there have been many, many changes to our knowledge of astronomy and physics since the 1960's. The book is interesting, fun to read, and closely follows Gamow's style. While you may not fully understand a certain concept from the chapter where it is introduced (like time/space relativity), you get more information and examples in later chapters that help to get the big picture. It is recommended for 11 year-olds and up, but most adults interested in physics would benefit from reading this. There are some math equations, of course, but they are there mostly for the person who needs to know why and how scientists make their deductions, and do not necessarily take away from the concepts if you don't understand them.
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on February 15, 2014
I really loved this book, and keep finding stuff in it every time I re-read it. If you're a Physics major (like me), or just a physics enthousiast, this book is a must read, as it has de fundamental concepts of physics explained "for dummies", as well as a deeper, really enjoyable knowledge of physics.
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on January 9, 2017
one of my favorite authors.
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on January 16, 2016
wonderful book, after all these years, one of the most creative explanations of Modern Physics
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on August 21, 2013
This book is intended for the general people. Prof. Gamow gives beatiful descriptions about quantum phenomena that ocurr in the atom, the nucleus as well as in solids. Really beatiful.
Highly recomended.
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on May 15, 2014
I was a freshman the first time I read about Mr Tompkins. Ten years later, I decided to buy it. It is a funny and enjoyable way to explain modern physics.
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on September 22, 2013
A physics professor turned me onto the book and it's been helpful in learning to understand physics. I'm enjoying it.
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on November 15, 2003
This was an enjoyable book, but it would profit by an index and bibliography. I keep wanting to refer to material read earlier, and foundd it difficult to find. I finally used the glosary as the basis of an index. When I thought there was a term in the book that might also be in the glossary, I wrote the page number down in the glossary. It'll be useful when I return to the book, which I'm sure I will. I can understand why they didn't provide a bibliography, but even a one pager would help. It only needed to be topic driven and not historically driven. Don't need a chronicle of events. I'm sure they didn't want to add to the expense or turn the book into something of an academic book.
Much of the material in the first few chapters is available in books like Epstein's Relativity Visualized, which I highly recommend. I really like the last three chapters, which were added to the book. The chapters on how particle accelerators work and on elementary particles were very good. The later was a very insightful treatment on how the particles got their properties. Very well done. Also liked the chapter on space curvature. A reference might be good here on non-euclidean geometry, or naybe a reference to Abbott's Flatland or Ian Stewart's Flatterland, although they aren't on non-euclidean geometry.
The introduction of fictional characters in the Tompkins book is quite useful and helpful. It somehow makes the facts more appealing. That alone perhaps encouraged me to read it from cover to cover. It softened the material at appropriate times rather than keep it on a hard track.
The book had some trouble with the Andromeda Galaxy. In two places it had the distance wrong and in disagreement with one another. 800K ly (circa 1950s value) and 1M ly (not sure where that came from). I believe the accepted value is 2M ly. In one place it called the galaxy The Great Andromeda Nebula. It's not a nebula.
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