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Thinking Physics: Practical Lessons in Critical Thinking Paperback – August, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Press; 2nd edition (August 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0935218068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0935218060
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a jewel of a book. The latest second edition includes additional material on waves, which addresses a lack in the earlier edition. There are sections on optics, momentum, kinetic and potential energy, etc. My favorite problem, and this is typical of the sort of material presented, is to decide whether or not a car traveling at 50 mph suffers more damage in:

A. hitting an immovable brick wall

B. having a head-on collision with an identical car (both) traveling at 50 mph

The usual response is to say B. However, Newton's 3rd law of motion ("forces always act in pairs - if a exerts a force on b, then b exerts an equal and oppositely-directed force on a) maintains that the damage is the same, ie, the wall strikes the car with the force of a head-on collision. This problem by the way is particularly juicy - I remember the head of a university physics department discussing this one at considerable length with two other physicists. (They more or less agreed, with provisos, after several minutes, that B. is indeed the correct answer.) The author encourages thinking without mathematics to come to terms with the physical reality of whatever we're analyzing. This approach closely mirrors that of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell, who felt that mathematics was useful only as an adjunct to science and no substitute for clear thinking. A marvellous book.
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Format: Paperback
I took this book with me on a retreat--and read it straight through, unable to put it down. Physics actually made *sense.* Yes, for topics like mechanics you need texts like Kleppner & Kolenkow (or the text of your choice, I suppose) if you intend to study physics more seriously. But the *why* of physics never made so much sense in K&K as it did in Thinking Physics.
While a lot of physics (from what I can tell) *is* calculation, the heart of it (also from what I can tell) is in the understanding, the *why.* You won't get much math out of Thinking Physics, but that's what the *other* textbooks are for. And math without understanding isn't much help.
Thank you, Mr. Epstein, for writing this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book gets one excited about physics. Common physical phenoman like rate, speed, mass and force are explained in very ingenious ways. What is more the writing is good and to the point. Even though there is not much math to speak of the author explains things in a concise manner. What got me hooked to this book is that it does require thinking on part of the reader. One quickly finds out that what may seem intuitive and common sense is in fact precisely the wrong answer. Another major advantage of the book is that you do not have to read it from page one onwards. Turn to any segment and you are sure to be sucked in. Page after page is filled with nice little nuggets of fun. Get this book you will not regret it.
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Format: Paperback
I have been teaching college physics for 10 years, and I recommend to my students that they buy this book. It is clear, concise, and most importantly, engaging.
I have adopted several examples from this book into my standard repetoire of teaching tools.
I have had students (who were initially negative about physics) tell me that they often find themselves getting lost in this book for an hour or two, because they found it _that_ interesting... Strong praise indeed!
Whatever level of physics you are at, this book has something for you. Whether you're a curious 10-year-old, or a university professor of physics, this book has something to teach you.
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By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've had this book since I was a freshman in High School and cannot say enough about how much it has helped me to develop effective ways of conceptualizing the physical world and how it works. It manages to explain everything from simple mechanics to the theory of relativity in a manner that anyone can understand. Extremely though provoking. It's greatest contribution is not the information it presents, but the way it shapes your mind to think effectively. I think it should be mandatory reading in our schools.
A big thank you from me also Mr. Epstein!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like this book because it has interesting and motivating physics problems that can be solved without math, but with just careful thinking on the truly physical aspects and principles. I do not mean that math should not be used in physics books, nor that all physics problems can be solved without math, but problems that do not need math are also very interesting and should be taught; this book is very good in doing that. I think this book would be very useful in high school (as complement to conventional books) because it would have great effect on kids's mental habits and rational thinking.

I am sure that if you are not a professional physicist but you like physics, like me, you will enjoy with this book. The only one thing I do not like from this book is that answers are written upside down. It deserves 5 stars.
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By A Customer on December 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you ever took a college class in physics, or maybe even high school, or ever wanted to understand physics, this is the book for you. I'm an electrical engineer, and my physics classes were 20 years ago, but I love this book. It really does make you think!! Buy it now (and get one for your friends).
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