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Stickler (Belgium)

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A Briefer History of Time
A Briefer History of Time
by Leonard Mlodinow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another name dropper by Leonard Mlodinow, 31 Jan. 2011
Mlodinow appears to have discovered a profitable line in 'ghosting' books by famous physicists. This title is almost a re-run of Some time with Feynman, one of the few books I regret purchasing. The whole book is given a spurious depth by dropping in tired old cliches like 'Science doesn't need God'. What science needs is evidence and numbers; not this kind of ultralightweight vapour.

I did not notice Mlodinow's name when I saw the book, I was in a hurry and thought to myself 'Hawking is always good for a challenge'. Wrong again! Another title for my list of regrets.

The text plods terribly; it is hard to imagine 'Another of the main tenets of the uncertainty principle, formulated by Werner Heisenberg in 1926' emerging from Stephen Hawking, perhaps it did, I have never met the man.

When trying to explain the history of quantum physics the text cannot even distinguish velocity and momentum, not a shortoming that has ever been found in Hawking's mind I hope. The unhappy author manages to write out a number, the Planck constant with all of 34 zeros and rounds 6.626 down to 6, he doesn't say what units (J/s) he is using. He does even worse for the mass of the electron giving 29 zeros, none separated by a comma and no unit of any sort, I don't think the figure given is correct by any scale and I'm not going to check it either.

This sort of stuff is clearly written to impress those not familiar with physics in any form, it is a shame it does not have the slightest flavour of the subject. It would be nice to think anyone seeking an introduction would gain at least a little insight; not from this book they won't.

I cannot imagine how a reviewer could give a five star rewiew to such a book, then Mlodinow's books tend to attract five star rewiews.


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