Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Read This Book! A User's Guide to the Universe
I requested A User's Guide to the Universe by Dave Goldberg and Jeff Blomquist from LibraryThing. The blurb about it on the site sounded like something I would be interested in reading and that I could use in the high school library where I work. The book answers questions about black holes, time travel, the big band theory, and extraterrestrials among other things. What I neglected to take into consideration is that this is a book about physics written by ummm, yeah, physics professors. So what was I thinking?
I admit that much of this book required too much thinking on my part. I admit that although I thoroughly read some chapters, I only skimmed others. And if there are any scientific goofs in in, I would have no earthly idea! But I have to say, that if anyone can make quantum physics come alive and appeal to non-science-y people (such as myself), it would have to be these two authors!
They use silly hand drawn illustrations to, well, illustrate the scientific theories they are explaining to the reader. They include pop culture references to bring the terminology of science into my frame of reference. They include humorous footnotes on almost every page. Have you ever made little jokes to your class (if you're a teacher) that you are pretty sure no one is sophisticated enough to get just to check and see if anyone is? That's what these footnotes are--clever asides to make you an insider in the world of physics--even if you're like me--definitely not an insider! And I even caught onto them!
The chapters can be read independently (in case you're interested in special relativity but not quantum weirdness) but each one also builds on examples used in prior chapters. My personal favorite was the chapter on time travel. The description of what happens to a fictional guy who falls into a black hole is gruesomely funny.
Go ahead--be brave--read A User's Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty. You might just think that if you were lucky enough to draw Dave Goldberg of Jeff Blomquist as your physics teacher, the class might not be so bad after all!