Fear of Physics is a lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples, it nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is essentially a very human intellectual endeavor.
©2007 Lawrence M. Krauss (P)2014 Dogma Debate, LLC
Just as its title suggests this is a great introduction to physics for those who believe they don't have a sufficient background in science or maths to begin to understand what physicists are discovering about our world and the universe in which we live.
The content of the book was excellent, but it was a bit overshadowed by the rush of reading. I think the reader which also the author (which is always very cool) wanted to show excitements through his methods of reading but it felt more hurried than anything.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"To be scientifically illiterate is to remain essentially uncultured. And the chief virtue of a cultural activity--be it art, music, literature, or science--is the way it enriches our lives."
― Lawrence M. Krauss, Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed
One of my great loves is reading about physics and science. Richard Feynman, Niels Bohr, Newton, Einstein, etc., are my lower-case "g" gods. While my math and science background is just enough to get me in trouble, it is also enough to keep me coming back.
A couple years ago I decided that I would drop my subscription to 'The Economist' for a year and instead subscribe to 'Science'. Every week I would read. It was like launching myself into an intellectual sphere that got more and more dense toward the center. I would jam easily with THIS WEEK IN SCIENCE and even IN BRIEF, but once I hit RESEARCH ARTICLES and the REPORTS I was usually forced to just dance around the abstract. But I loved it. It was like New York Times crossword puzzles. I found the more often I could finish a Wednesday the more answers I could find without help to the Thursday puzzles.
That, I believe is the essence of what Krauss is trying to communicate in this book. Life is a joy. The search for answers is a thrill. Knowing how science works and where science IS deepens our understanding of our brief moment on this round rock in space. I love literature, but often GOOD literature tries to translate truths found in science. Just look at how closely Cormac McCarthy and Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo follow the discoveries of science. Knowledge is constantly bleeding between science, philosophy, and art. There is a nobility and a beauty to the search, the discovery, and understanding. If we aren't curious and aren't engaged, we might as well be dead or slaves.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
As much as I love physics, I really didn't care for this book. The reading is awful. The subject matter is very disjointed. I doubt anyone could follow this book without a physics background because it's very muddy.
I found it very hard to get the point of each chapter. Things sort of wander around until something seems like a point and then it's off to the next item.
The caveat is this: it could be just me. There are many rave reviews which led me to believe I might enjoy this book. When he mentioned "The law of relativity" I nearly choked.
Not for me. Your mileage may vary.
While I admire Krauss and tend to get a lot out of his work, I found this reading to be rushed and the resulting performance to be quite poor. On several occasions the author pauses at inappropriate times or mispronounces words during the reading and this leads to a less than pleasurable experience. In a post-book interview with Smalley, they both brag that the book was read in "record time". The results show it. The book would be far better if the production staff had taken the time to listen to it prior to publishing and have Krauss re-read the parts that are awkwardly recorded. Smalley would do better with a less melodramatic tone during the reading of the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. The flaws detract slightly from the overall message and content of the book which relay concepts that help lay people get a better grasp of key topics in physics and where they came from.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
I am fascinated by physics. I don’t understand physics, but I am fascinated by it. So I tend to pick up at least one introduction to physics book a year and I tend to ultimately realize that I am not designed for high level physics.
Fear of Physics is a well reviewed introduction used in a number of college settings. I listened to the audiobook that I picked up on sale. I am not sure that audiobook was the best format for this book. There was nothing wrong with the narrator, but the content occasionally would have been better in print instead of audio.
The two chapters I enjoyed most (and I think I understood most) were about how physicists understand math differently than mathematicians and how physicists ‘creatively plagiarize’ previous work until it becomes something new. The math chapters basically help describe how physics has understood very large and very small numbers and used approximation as a tentative placeholder until better measurement technology becomes available. Some of the insights into math surprised me as basic math place value discussions that are now taught in early common core math. (This book was originally written in 1993 and updated in 2007).
The chapter on ‘creative plagiarization’ discusses the scientific method and how part of that method is to take what you know and apply it to other things to see if that thing you know about A also applies to B. Or that things you theorize about A but haven’t figured out how to measure yet, might give insight into how the measurement of B might happen either now or later based on the technology available.
There were times when I would have stopped if I were reading a print book and the audiobook just kept pulling me a long. There were also times when I had a hard time visualizing what the audiobook was saying and wished I had the print book. This is a book that would have benefited from being able to flip back and forth between the audio and the print. But this is an example where I wish the discounts would go both ways (instead of only getting a discount, if one is available, when you purchase the Kindle edition first, and then the audiobook as an add on.)
I think I enjoyed hearing him read this more than I enjoyed reading it myself. This is still a relevant book and the topics discussed are just as timely now as they were when it was written. You can't always say that about science related literature. I view this book as a foundational book for anyone interested in understanding physics better. I use the examples found here to help explain these concepts to my children and many other people who have a tenuous grasp on science in the world around them. I would recommend this book to just about anyone.
For some reason this just didn't grab me the way Brian Greene or Stephen Hawking's stuff did. I feel like Lawrence Krause just comes off as slightly condescending.
I personally loved this book. Lawrence reads his own book and is clearly very passionate about the material in it. I find this unique in the world of scientific literature. I believe some new to physics my find this book to be a bit challenging. Do not be discouraged as the real message of this book lies in the inquisitive process of scientist.
A background on me: I am a undergrad in physics. thus the material is not necessarily new to me; however, I still found this to be an excellent book because of Lawrence Krauss's perspective on the logic involved in science to be a refreshing.
"A world of spherical cows"
Lawrence Krauss gives a fascinating insight into the the mind of a physicist. The book gives an account of how some of the major breakthroughs in science came to fruition. Krauss shows the power of science in its ability formulate ideas which actually turn out to be true. Some of the chapters are challenging for the non-scientist and may require a second read, but science was never meant to be trivial. Having said that, It's astonishing how some of seemingly the most complex of problems can be broken down into much simpler ones once you pass that problem over to a physicist . Highly recommend this book, particularly for those just starting out a career in science.
"Not for beginners"
Despite a comment in the book I would not recommend it to someone very new physics.
"Great listen for an inquisitive science enthusiast"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it wasn't too long and most of the topics were exciting and interesting. Everything from galactic to subatomic scales were covered and plenty of effort was made to relate physics to our everyday lives.
I'm no physicist, and although some sections were challenging to listen to, I didn't feel lost for long and it didn't stop me enjoying the other parts of the book both before and after.
At times I felt Dr Krauss made a few slips in his delivery and more attention could have been given from the editor/producer, but this didn't significantly impact on my enjoyment. You can hear the passion and humour in the delivery, so definitely not a dull physics book.
Thanks, Dr Krauss.
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