Fear Of Physics: A Guide For The Perplexed Paperback – 1 Jan. 1994
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The book serves as a useful description of how scientists probe the complex and often hidden connections between existing scientific theories for new insights and illustrates how they (and, just as importantly, we) can be confident in their findings, even if at times, the results can be palpably counter-intuitive. This is a fascinating and worthwhile read that demonstrates clearly how the current theoretical ideas are on a secure intellectual footing: moreover, Krauss' easygoing style and a gentle humour is as engaging as it is illuminating and anybody with an interest in the scientific process will surely enjoy this book.
Nonetheless, one cannot explain how physicists think without first describing what it is that they think about and it is here that Krauss seems to flounder. Whilst this book is more about physicists than it is about physics, a grasp of concepts such as relativity and symmetry are prerequisites to understanding the current direction of scientific research and, compared to other contemporary authors, some of Krauss' explanations of these ideas can seem clumsy and superficial. The result is a book that feels half-finished (or perhaps, twice as long as necessary) and thus, less than satisfying.
Notwithstanding these reservations, Krauss' spherical cow and perpetual motion machine are wonderful devices for describing how physicists adopt a pragmatic approach to novel ideas and explaining rule of thumb concepts: in fact, they are so good that they are probably worth the cover price alone. Moreover, most people considering this book will already be grounded in some of the more arcane ideas of modern physics, which, to some extent, should mitigate these limitations.
In summary, if you are seeking insight into how physicists go about their day jobs, you will doubtless find this text both enjoyable and informative. However, if you are looking for an introductory text in theoretical physics, there are titles that are, perhaps, more appropriate.
Top international reviews
These two books do not help with the “white guy” perception (and sorry, not much with the crazy hair stereotype), but at least the students begin to see science as a living, breathing entity, rather than a bunch of math (with the most important formulas boxed up or presented in bold type) from a typical physics text. Frankly, most of them are not going to remember even the basic physics formulas a decade from now, but they will remember the topics from this book. If they can hold onto excitement which Krauss expresses in his book (you will NEVER read a better explanation of why we need scientific notation) I consider my job as well done.
I am finally getting around to writing this review after years of assigning the book because my son had the chance to take a class with Krauss at ASU, which he adored. I waited until the grades were assigned to upload this review, finally getting this done is a small way of paying back for the joy of physics he has given indirectly to my students, and directly to my son. I also hope to do a small part in making physics a topic which does not induce cringing, but delight, and this book helps me to do so for my students.
As technology receives the tools to further search into the vitals of that strange world of micro bio-physics and at the same time goes deeper and deeper into 'space' exploration here we have laid out before us the two set side by side.
It was never going to be easy for the general reader to keep-up-with-the-play but nice to see the attempt