- Grade Level: 2 - 3
- Paperback: 582 pages
- Publisher: Insight Press, San Francisco, CA; 3rd edition (2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0935218084
- ISBN-13: 978-0935218084
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality Paperback – 2002
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If you purchase this book, do yourself a massive favor and immediately cut out and throw away the 20 or so sheets following the index. Do not look at, do not read these when you do so. A brilliant book is enormously tarnished by the author's non-physics, off-topic crazy-person rant at the end. Trust me, you don't want to read it, as it will affect how you perceive the actual physics content of the book. I wish I had never seen it - it knocked a six star book down to three and made it much harder to recommend to others.
With a presentation both unique and entertaining, Lewis Carroll Epstein's Thinking Physics has certainly claimed a rightful seat at the roundtable of wonderful didactic books. Every page poses a question that challenges the reader on his view of the physical world, and nearly every answer tears down the fallacies of his intuition. Socrates would have been proud of the format, with each new question expanding on concepts developed in earlier answers. One of the 1-star reviews mentioned a lack of organization. This criticism completely misses the point. It is NOT a textbook, so "obviously" it will lack some of the rigorous development of concepts and precise organization that you would expect in a physics text. It IS a popular physics book with lots of cartoony pictures that a kid in elementary school could both enjoy and understand. At the same time, the insights will help build anyone's physics intuition, regardless of age. I read this book when I was 30. I have since started going through problems in Kleppner and Kolenkow and some other more advanced texts, and I really think this book helped.
For a more traditional approach to "Understanding Physics," see the three volume set of the same name by Isaac Asimov written in 1966, so it is a bit dated, but it does have an index and clear chapter and section headings.
For example I was trying to learn more about the gravitational constant in Newton's law of gravitation. Nothing in Epstein's book.
Asimov, in Volume, 1-Motion, Sound, and Heat, has chapter on "Gravitation," and on pages 47-52, on "The Gravitational Constant."
Also highly recommended is:
"Instant Physics," (1995), by Tony Rothman, Ph.D., (which unfortunately is available only in pulp paperback- but it does have an index).
In "Instant Physics" Rothman presents Newton's three laws of motion in short, single, easy to understand sentences:
1. Law of Inertia: "An object travels at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an outside force;"
2. F=ma: "The force acting on an object is equal to the product of the object's mass and acceleration;"
3. "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Buy it and enjoy.