sereshka: (winter skiing)
[personal profile] sereshka
Today I received this wonderful book that is Epstein's "Thinking Physics". The book is the spirit of popular math books by Martin Gardner and brands itself as a book for 'physicists of all ages'. The book is about thinking and understanding physics - there is not a single formula or equation in the entire book. And it is true that some of the questions can be discussed with children (say, age 8), whereas some can be of interest to students who learn quantum mechanics. The book is cleverly set in large font, so it does look like a book for kids. 

The book manages to explain the concepts like tensors by using language for 10-year olds. Could you? Some of the given answers are not without controversy, but the discussion they stimulate is certainly worth the trouble. One answer key is prefaced nicely:
"Are you reading this before you have formulated a reasoned answer in your thinking? If so, do you also exercise your body by watching others do push-ups?"
I think I'll use it on my students. 

Funnily, the last pages of the book contain letters of Mr. Epstein to Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi where he complains that South Korean sell his books without paying copyright fees (the second letter, signed 'A poor old physics teacher', complains also that Mr. Clinton never replied). I sort of expected this to be a joke where he would at the end express satisfaction that people like physics, but alas.

So, Mr. Epstein is a grumpy old man. It does sound impressive, though, that South Korea, with a population of 50 million, is selling more or nearly as much popular physics books than in the US (he does give numbers but they are difficult to compare).     
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