B12 Solipsism

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The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck

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“The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck: What Everyday Things Tell Us About the Universe” (Marcus Chown)

I was lucky to have good science teachers in school, but I understand Maggie Koerth-Baker’s point about how physics is often taught in America. Sounds like a fun and educational book…

Stumble After Stumble

Physics can seem a lot like a dirty trick. You spend most of junior high and high school being told that there are rules to this thing, that the Universe functions in predictable and rational ways. Apples always fall down from the tree onto Newton’s head. Cars traveling at different speeds crash into each other with a force that you can sit down and calculate on a TI-86.

And then they pull the rug out from under you.

Suddenly, it’s all photons, antimatter, and cats that are simultaneously alive and dead. Even the Universe itself might be just one of many, with every outcome that has ever been possible playing itself out somewhere. It’s confusing. And into that gap in popular knowledge tumbles everybody who bought into What the Bleep Do We Know?

If you’re lost, Marcus Chown can help. His book, The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck, explains how science got from the macro, everyday world of Newtonian Laws to the far-out, quantum reality we know today. More importantly, he makes the latter relevant, piecing together science history, sub-atomic particles, physical cosmology and everyday life. If you read one physics book after graduating from high school—hell, if you read one physics book while in high school—this should be it.

When I say that Chown makes quantum physics relevant, I mean more than simply praise for his ability to connect complex theory to brilliantly simple real-world analogies and mental pictures. Although, that’s awesome.

One of the frustrating things about the way physics is taught in school is the way it disconnects Point A from Point Z.

(click to continue reading Read This: The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck – Boing Boing.)

If you understand physics, you understand your world, simple as that.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 19th, 2010 at 9:04 am

Posted in Suggestions

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