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A User's Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty

Popular Science

By: Dave Goldberg and Jeff Blomquist

304 pages, illustrations

John Wiley & Sons

Hardback | Feb 2010 | #184875 | ISBN-13: 9780470496510
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £16.99 $21/€19 approx

About this book

This title provides answers to science's most enduring questions ranging from 'Can I build a transporter, like on Star Trek?' and 'Is there life on other planets?' to 'What is empty space made of?'. In "A User's Guide to the Universe", physicists Dave Goldberg and Jeff Blomquist make good on two promises: you'll get answers and you won't have to decipher any equations to understand them (well, maybe just one very short and very familiar equation).

This quirky and fun book takes you on a fascinating tour of the universe as we know it by asking (and answering) weird, important, and provocative questions. It explains subjects as diverse as special relativity, quantum mechanics, randomness, time travel, the expanding universe, and much more. It includes dozens of delightfully groan-worthy cartoons that explain everything from special relativity to dark matter. This plain-English, plain-hilarious handbook ushers you through all of the major discoveries of modern physics, from relativity to the Large Hadron Collider, without furrowing your brow even once.

Put your mind at ease and jump into modern physics in a way you never imagined possible comfortably. Now is your chance to impress people at cocktail parties with your insights into the world of quantum weirdness, time and space, the expanding universe, and much, much more.

With a large measure of humor and a minimum of math (one equation), physics professor Goldberg and engineer Blomquist delve into the fascinating physics topics that rarely make it into introductory classes, including time travel, extraterrestrials, and "quantum weirdness" to prove that physics' "reputation for being hard, impractical, and boring" is wrong by at least two-thirds: "Hard? Perhaps. Impractical? Definitely not... But boring? That's where we really take issue." Breaking up each topic into common sense questions ("How many habitable planets are there?" "What is Dark Matter?" "If the universe is expanding, what's it expanding into?"), the duo provides explanations in everyday language with helpful examples, analogies, and Blomquist's charmingly unpolished cartoons. Among other lessons, readers will learn about randomness through gambling; how a Star Trek-style transporter might function in the real world; and what may have existed before the Big Bang. Despite the absence of math, this nearly-painless guide is still involved and scientific, aimed at science hobbyists rather than science-phobes; it should also prove an ideal reference companion for more technical classroom texts. 100 b&w photos. (Mar.) (, March 29, 2010) "If you've ever wondered what happened before the big bang or where the universe is expanding, then the new book A User's Guide to the Universe is for you. A hilariously serious journey through all the big questions (Can I build a time machine?) with answers from real-life physicist David Goldberg and sly illustrator Jeff Blomquist, this indispensable window on modern science makes a great nonfiction companion to the beloved, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." (Christian Science Monitor)


Acknowledgments. Introduction. Chapter 1: Special Relativity. Chapter 2: Quantum Weirdness. Chapter 3: Randomness. Chapter 4: The Standard Model. Chapter 5: Time Travel. Chapter 6: The Expanding Universe. Chapter 7: The Big Bang. Chapter 8: Extraterrestrials. Chapter 9: The Future. Index.

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Dave Goldberg is an associate professor of physics at Drexel University, where he works on theoretical and observational cosmology. He earned his Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and is very interested in the interface between science and pop culture. He has contributed to Slate and appeared on WNYC's Studio 360. He lives with his wife and daughter in Philadelphia. Jeff Blomquist earned his master's degree in physics from Drexel University in 2008 and is currently an engineer at Boeing Aerospace. He drew the illustrations in A User's Guide to the Universe all by himself! He lives in Philadelphia and has only recently stopped sleeping on a couch.

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