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Gavin Pretor-Pinney

The wavewatcher's companion

Waves are all about us, so much so that often we won't notice them. In The wavewatcher's companion Gavin Pretor-Pinney points out some of the many examples of waves around us.

The book starts with the different types waves on the sea, and this is followed by chapters on sound and electromagnetic waves. Not all waves are moving and sinusoidal, the author also describes standing waves, and shock waves such as that formed when an an aircraft breaks the sound barrier. There can be waves in flocks of birds or crowds - the Mexican wave. The tides also count as a form of waves. The author describes interference of waves and takes a brief foray into quantum theory. The final chapter describes his experiences of surfing in Hawaii.

This book is longlisted for the 2011 Royal Society Science book prize, but I wouldn't expect it to get any further. The author seems to shy away from anything that looks too scientific, for instance I would have expected a discussion of the nonexistence of the luminiferous aether in the chapter on electromagnetic waves. In a sense the ubiquity of waves means that we just get the selection of examples the author wants to talk about, and it isn't a particularly scientific selection. That said, its a well written book, full of interesting facts, with plenty of humour, and its non-technical nature opens it up to a wide readership.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover
ISBN: 0747589763
Salesrank: 672647
Published: 2010 Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Amazon price $11.18
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 1408809761
Salesrank: 313796
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2011 Bloomsbury Paperbacks
Amazon price £12.48
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 1408809761
Salesrank: 150400
Weight:0.53 lbs
Published: 2011 Bloomsbury Paperbacks
Amazon price CDN$ 17.00
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 14.63:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
Watching breakers roll onto a Cornish beach, the author of the best-selling Cloudspotter's Guide decided to find out where they came from. The result was this erudite and entertaining book. After describing the types of ocean wave and the forces that drive them, he explains the invisible waves that shape our universe - light waves, sound waves, shock waves - and those, such as radio and X-rays, that we harness in our technology.