Physics is sometimes thought to be a subject which is remote from everyday life, only to be followed by experts. In this book, based on a monthly column in APS news
, Jennifer Ouellette shows that this is not the case. The book takes various episodes in the history of physics and describes them in terms which the non-technical reader will understand. - with plenty of references to modern novels and films providing metaphors for the underlying physics. Thus Jurassic Park
is used in the explanation of Chaos Theory and Blade Runner
in the discussion of Artificial Intelligence. Its a well written book and although the chapters are in chronological order they are independent of each other so its perfectly suited to dipping into whan you feel like a bit of light reading.
On the other hand I don't feel that the book is likely to inspire many people to take up physics - its has more of the flavour of interesting facts about inventions rather than discussion of the physical principles. Also some people might not be that keen on a series of historical anecdotes. But I found plenty to keep my interest, and I felt that Ouelette does well to deal with diverse areas of physics but still maintain the chronological thread - from Leonardo da Vinci in 1509 to the state of string theory in 2003 - without it seeming forced.