Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer Reading List

Now that school's almost done, check out these fun books that were new to the Physics Library collection during the 2011-2012 school year.

  • THE 4% UNIVERSE:  DARK MATTER, DARK ENERGY, AND THE RACE TO DISCOVER THE REST OF REALITY.
  •   By Richard Panek.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
    THE 4% UNIVERSE:  DARK MATTER, DARK ENERGY, AND THE RACE TO DISCOVER THE REST OF REALITY.
    • In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown. 
      Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the universe. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize. Based on hundreds of interviews and in-depth, on-site reporting, the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have redefined science and reinvented the universe.

  • ALICE AND THE QUANTUM CAT.
  •   Edited by William Brandon Shanley and Nick Herbert.  Pari, Italy:  Pari Publishing, 2011. 
      ALICE AND THE QUANTUM CAT.
    • Alice in Wonderland leaps into the twenty-first century of quantum paradoxes and chaotic attractors. In a series of engaging stories several of the world's leading science writers speculate on what would happen if the young Alice were to enter the world of quarks, fractals, chaos theory, Heisenberg's uncertainty, the very center of the universe and theories of everything. The book also contains a glossary, very accessible to the lay reader, of definitions and explanations of the curious quantum world.
  • THE BEAUTIFUL INVISIBLE.
  •   By Giovanni Viganale.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2011.
    • Challenging the image of theoretical physics as a dry discipline, The Beautiful Invisible shows that this highly abstract science is in fact teeming with beautiful concepts, and the task of imagining them demands profound creativity, just as creative as the work of poets or magical realist novelists such as Borges and Musil. "A good scientific theory is like a symbolic tale, an allegory of reality," writes Giovanni Vignale, as he uncovers the unexpected links between theoretical physics and artistic creativity. In engaging and at times poetic prose, and with ample quotations from many of the writers he admires, Vignale presents his own unorthodox accounts of fundamental theoretical concepts such as Newtonian mechanics, superconductivity, and Einstein's theory of relativity, illuminating their profound implications. Throughout, the author treats readers to glimpses of physics as "exercised in the still night, when only the moon rages." Indeed, as we delve behind now-familiar concepts such as "electron spin" and "black hole," the world that we take for granted melts away, leaving a glimpse of something much stranger.
  • CONSTRUCTING REALITY:  QUANTUM THEORY AND PARTICLE PHYSICS
  •   By John Marburger III. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2011. 
    • Questions of the fundamental nature of matter continue to inspire and engage our imagination. However, the exciting new concepts of strings, supersymmetry and exotic matter build on ideas that are well known to physicists but mysterious and puzzling to people outside of these research fields. Covering key conceptual developments from the last century, this book provides a background to the bold ideas and challenges faced by physicists today. Quantum theory and the Standard Model of particles are explained with minimal mathematics, and advanced topics, such as gauge theory and quantum field theory, are put into context. With concise, lucid explanations, this book is an essential guide to the world of particle physics.
  • COSMIC NUMBERS:  THE NUMBERS THAT DEFINE OUR UNIVERSE
  •  By James D. Stein. New York:  Basic Books, 2011.
    • In Cosmic Numbers, mathematics professor James D. Stein traces the discovery, evolution, and interrelationships of the numbers that define our world. Everyone knows about the speed of light and absolute zero, but numbers like Boltzmann’s constant and the Chandrasekhar limit are not as well known, and they do far more than one might imagine: They tell us how this world began and what the future holds. Much more than a gee-whiz collection of facts and figures, Cosmic Numbers illuminates why particular numbers are so important—both to the scientist and to the rest of us.
  • EINSTEIN WROTE BACK:  MY LIFE IN PHYSICS.
  •  By John W. Moffat.  Toronto:  Thomas Allen Publishers, 2010.
  • ENRIQUE’S JOURNEY:  THE STORY OF A BOY’S DANGEROUS ODYSSEY TO REUNITE WITH HIS MOTHER.
  •   By Sonia Nazario.  New York:  Random House, 2007.  [2011 Go Big Read Book Selection]
    • If you missed reading this 2011 Go Big Read pick during the school year, catch up now!
  • THE FALLACY OF FINE-TUNING: WHY THE UNIVERSE IS NOT DESIGNED FOR US
  •   By Victor J. Stenger.  Amherst, NY:  Prometheus Books, 2011.
    • A number of authors have noted that if some physical parameters were slightly changed, the universe could no longer support life, as we know it. This implies that life depends sensitively on the physics of our universe. Does this "fine-tuning" of the universe also suggest that a creator god intentionally calibrated the initial conditions of the universe such that life on earth and the evolution of humanity would eventually emerge? Some influential scientists, such as National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, think so. Others go even further, asserting that science "has found God."
  • FOR THE LOVE OF PHYSICS:  FROM THE END OF THE RAINBOW TO THE EDGE OF TIME – A JOURNEY THROUGH THE WONDERS OF PHYSICS.
  •   By Walter Lewin with Walter Goldstein.  New York:  Free Press, 2011.
    • FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walter Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly fun. Now Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in For the Love of Physics, opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world around us.
  • GLIDING FOR GOLD:  THE PHYSICS OF WINTER SPORTS.
  •   By Mark Denny.  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
    • A physics-driven exploration of sports played on ice and snow that is truly fun and informative, Gliding for Gold is the perfect primer for understanding the science behind cold weather athletics.
  • GOLD MEDAL PHYSICS:  THE SCIENCE OF SPORTS
  •  By John Eric Goff.  Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010
    • Fun, witty, and imbued throughout with admiration for the simple beauty of physics, Gold Medal Physics is sure to inspire readers to think differently about the next sporting event they watch.
    HOW THE HIPPIES SAVED PHYSICS:  SCIENCE, COUNTERCULTURE, AND THE QUANTUM REVIVAL
  • HOW THE HIPPIES SAVED PHYSICS:  SCIENCE, COUNTERCULTURE, AND THE QUANTUM REVIVAL.
  •  By David Kaiser.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.
    • A lively, entertaining story that illuminates the relationship between creativity and scientific progress, How the Hippies Saved Physics takes us to a time when only the unlikeliest heroes could break the science world out of its rut. 46 black-and-white illustrations
    • David Kaiser was a 2011 Physics Colloquia speaker.
  • THE INSTANT PHYSICIST:  AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE.
  •   By Richard A. Muller. Illustrated by Joey Manfre.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.
    • Richard A. Muller demonstrated in his recent bestseller, Physics for Future Presidents, that he has a unique talent for delivering the “aha” moment—making difficult topics accessible. In The Instant Physicist he shows his ability to entertain, too, by presenting the best of the scientific curiosities he has assembled over his distinguished career. Assisted by award-winning cartoonist Joey Manfre, who has created an original color cartoon for each “physics bite,” Muller will have readers chuckling while they’re absorbing more science than they ever thought possible. From the surprising (chocolate has more energy in it than TNT) to the scary (even kids can make a bomb), this book contains a revelation on every page. Once finished with this page-turner, readers will be the stars of their next cocktail party.
  • JAMES VAN ALLEN:  THE FIRST EIGHT BILLION MILES
  •  By Abigail Foerstner. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2007.
    • Astrophysicist and space pioneer James Van Allen (1914–2006), for whom the Van Allen radiation belts were named, was among the principal scientific investigators for twenty-four space missions, including Explorer I in 1958, the first successful U.S. satellite; Mariner 2’s 1962 flyby of Venus, the first successful mission to another planet; and the 1970s Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 missions that surveyed Jupiter and Saturn. Although he retired as a University of Iowa professor of physics and astronomy in 1985, he remained an active researcher, using his campus office to monitor data from Pioneer 10—on course to reach the edge of the solar system when its signal was lost in 2003—until a short time before his death at the age of ninety-one. Now Abigail Foerstner blends space science drama, military agendas, cold war politics, and the events of Van Allen’s lengthy career to create the first biography of this highly influential physicist.
  • MASSIVE:  THE MISSING PARTICLE THAT SPARKED THE GREATEST HUNT IN SCIENCE.
  •   By Ian Sample.  New York:  Basic Books, 2010.
    • In Massive, prize-winning science journalist Ian Sample tells the story of the race to locate the Higgs Boson, the elusive particle whose existence remains to be proven. Since 1964, when Peter Higgs described an over-arching theory of mass that depended on the Higgs boson, the scientific community has been possessed by the increasingly competitive race to prove its existence. The ensuing four-decade quest has cost billions of dollars and consumed the attention of scientific luminaries and of politicians eager to ensure that their home country would be the one to get credit for discovering the long-sought-after particle. Now, with the Large Hadron Collider up and running, the discovery of the Higgs boson seems finally to be within our grasp. Sample’s Massive provides the juicy backstory to what will possibly be the defining discovery of modern physics, complete with intense rivalries, clashing egos, and grand ambition.
  • THE PHYSICIST’S WORLD:  THE STORY OF MOTION AND THE LIMITS TO KNOWLEDGE.
  •   By Thomas Grissom.  Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
    • How do students learn about physics without picking up a 1,000-page textbook chock-full of complicated equations? The Physicist’s World is the answer. Here, Thomas Grissom explains clearly and succinctly what physics really is: the science of understanding how everything in the universe moves.... This is physics for the thinking person, especially students who enjoy learning concepts, histories, and interpretations without becoming mired in complex mathematical detail. A concise survey of the field of physics, Grissom’s book offers students and professionals alike a unique perspective on what physicists do, how physics is done, and how physicists view the world.
  • THE PONTECORVO AFFAIR:  A COLD WAR DEFECTION AND NUCLEAR PHYSICS
  •  By Simone Turchetti.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
      THE PONTECORVO AFFAIR:  A COLD WAR DEFECTION AND NUCLEAR PHYSICS
    • In the fall of 1950, newspapers around the world reported that the Italian-born nuclear physicist Bruno Pontecorvo and his family had mysteriously disappeared while returning to Britain from a holiday trip. Because Pontecorvo was known to be an expert working for the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, this raised immediate concern for the safety of atomic secrets, especially when it became known in the following months that he had defected to the Soviet Union. Was Pontecorvo a spy? Did he know and pass sensitive information about the bomb to Soviet experts? At the time, nuclear scientists, security personnel, Western government officials, and journalists assessed the case, but their efforts were inconclusive and speculations quickly turned to silence. In the years since, some have downplayed Pontecorvo’s knowledge of atomic weaponry, while others have claimed him as part of a spy ring that infiltrated the Manhattan Project. 
      The Pontecorvo Affair
       draws from newly disclosed sources to challenge previous attempts to solve the case, offering a balanced and well-documented account of Pontecorvo, his activities, and his possible motivations for defecting. Along the way, Simone Turchetti reconsiders the place of nuclear physics and nuclear physicists in the twentieth century and reveals that as the discipline’s promise of military and industrial uses came to the fore, so did the enforcement of new secrecy provisions on the few experts in the world specializing in its application.
  • QUANTUM MAN:  RICHARD FEYNMAN’S LIFE IN SCIENCE.
  • By Lawrence M. Krauss.  New York:  W.W. Norton, 2011.
    • Perhaps the greatest physicist of the second half of the twentieth century, Richard Feynman changed the way we think about quantum mechanics, the most perplexing of all physical theories. Here Lawrence M. Krauss, himself a theoretical physicist and best-selling author, offers a unique scientific biography: a rollicking narrative coupled with clear and novel expositions of science at the limits. An immensely colorful persona in and out of the office, Feynman revolutionized our understanding of nature amid a turbulent life. Krauss presents that life—from the death of Feynman’s childhood sweetheart during the Manhattan Project to his reluctant rise as a scientific icon—as seen through the science, providing a new understanding of the legacy of a man who has fascinated millions. An accessible reflection on the issues that drive physics today, Quantum Man captures the story of a man who was willing to break all the rules to tame a theory that broke all the rules.
  • QUANTUM PHYSICS FOR POETS
  •  By Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill.  Amherst, NY:  Prometheus Books, 2011.
    • Quantum theory is the bedrock of contemporary physics and the basis of understanding matter in its tiniest dimensions and the vast universe as a whole. But for many, the theory remains an impenetrable enigma.
      Their story is partly historical, covering the many "Eureka" moments when great scientists--Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schroedinger, and others--struggled to come to grips with the bizarre realities that quantum research revealed. Although their findings were indisputably proven in experiments, they were so strange and counterintuitive that Einstein refused to accept quantum theory, despite its great success.
      The authors explain the many strange and even eerie aspects of quantum reality at the subatomic level, from "particles" that can be many places simultaneously and sometimes act more like waves, to the effect that a human can have on their movements by just observing them!
      Finally, Drs. Lederman and Hill delve into quantum physics' latest and perhaps most breathtaking offshoots--field theory and string theory. The intricacies and ramifications of these two theories will give the reader much to ponder. In addition, the authors describe the diverse applications of quantum theory in its almost countless forms of modern technology throughout the world.
      Using eloquent analogies and illustrative examples, Quantum Physics for Poets render even the most profound reaches of quantum theory understandable and something for us all to savor.
  • A TIME AND A TIDE: CHARLES K. KAO:  A MEMOIR.
  •   By Charles K. Kao.  Hong Kong:  Chinese University Press, 2011.
    • Charles K. Kao was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication." This memoir chronicles his personal and scientific odyssey from his an unfathomable childhood in war-torn Shanghai and Hong Kong to his seminal work with glass fibers. Kao shares his experiences as vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and muses on his legacy as the "father of fiber optics." His groundbreaking research (based in part on the discovery that signal loss in fiber cables was a direct result of glass impurities rather than technology flaws) laid the groundwork for our present day communication infrastructure. 
If you want to browse past new books for yourself, visit http://physics.library.wisc.edu/newbooks/index.html

No comments:

Post a Comment