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Magnetism is electricity's less appreciated twin. In our daily lives we only think of magnetism in the context of fridge magnets, magnetic clasps, or at most when considering the needle of the compass. However, magnetism is one of the most pervasive and useful natural phenomena, and in so many ways modern life would be unimaginable without it.

This very short introduction aims to give a very comprehensive account of the phenomenon of magnetism. The book goes into the history of our understanding of magnetism, describes some significant discoveries, provides theoretical explanation of magnetism, and examines some of the most significant applications of magnetism today. Some of these applications have become so ubiquitous that we don't even think of them much any more - such as the magnetic memory that is the bases of all hard drives that are in use today. Others are a bit more obscure but no less fascinating. The book is written with a non-scientist in mind, although some degree of scientific literacy and appreciation of science will go a long way in making the most out of this material. Aside from a very short appendix, the book contains no equations and "scary" scientific graphs. There are a few neat diagrams though, that manage to explain concepts visually for those of us who like that kind of thing. Even if you are an experienced scientist, or even a physicist (like myself) you'll find a lot of useful and intriguing tidbits of information within this short volume. This is particularly true if you happen to teach some course that deals with magnetism.

The writing in this book is very lucid and engaging. It is definitely one of the better-written popular science books. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes to broaden his or her understanding of science.
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on 20 May 2013
This book demystifies magnetism and presents the development history leading up to unification of electricity and magnetism. It also covers applications of magnetism and the magnetic field of our Earth and Solar System.

Magnetism has a deep association with electricity, relativity and quantum theory. Magnetic field appears in nature when a charge is moving with respect to the observer; magnetism is a purely relativistic effect. Magnetic properties of materials can be explained by quantum mechanics. Electrons either spin one way or the other; it is electron spin that produces magnetism.

Magnetism is vital in our maritime, industrial and information revolutions as well as magnetic navigation in animals. The fusion reactors would one day solve the Earth's energy crisis. The Earth's magnetic field has changed and even reversed over time!
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The Very Short Introduction series are written by professors of the subject and are aimed at provoking cross-discipline intrigue in the reader that may incite further investigation and reading - and boy are they good at achieving exactly that; often they leave more questions than answers.

"By giving us compasses it allowed us to navigate the world, by giving us motors, generators and turbines magnetism has given us plentiful power. It lies behind many of our electrical sensors, helps us in recording and playing music via microphones and loudspeakers and has transformed the way we store information" - Page 130.

This is an excellent read and completely approachable, starting from the origins of our investigation into magnetism from the humble bar magnet, all the way up to our magnetosphere protecting us from the Sun and back down to the spin on electrons - it encompasses all aspects of the subject. It is absolutely incredible how fundamentally our understanding of physics and the world has gained from magnetism. Highly recommended.
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on 31 March 2016
One of the worst scientific treatises ever. Never answers questions like: What is alternating current? How does it differ from radio transmitters that are also supposed to be based on 'oscillations'? What are the geometrical angles involved when magnetic and electric fields interact, and what is their origin on the atomic/subatomic scale (and consequently, why do electric motors work at all)? Why does the 'spin' property of elementary particles only manifest in unevenly strong magnetic fields? Adding only about 10 pages of appendices could have clarified these topics and made the main text understandable and enjoyable. So, because these omissions are so elementary mistakes, one star. One star doesn't mean I didn't learn anything from it, it just means the mistakes are severe beyond comprehension.
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on 26 January 2015
The book covers a very wide range of topics, but completely omits any reference to magnetism in such non-ferrous mixtures. It also bypasses such magnetic curiosities such as neodymium. Here is where some practical rather than theoretical information would have been useful.
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on 22 May 2015
I found this book both inspiring and informative. An excellent read! Highly recommended.
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on 23 October 2015
Great books
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on 11 September 2014
All as described. Arrived on time and no complaints whatsoever.
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