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Knowing: The Nature of Physical Law

By: Michael Munowitz

417 pages, diagrams

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jan 2006 | #159711 | ISBN: 0195167376
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $46/€39 approx

About this book

We ask question after question of an indifferent universe that would just as soon remain mute; and slowly, patiently, one sentence at a time, we write our own version of the book of nature. It is called science, from the Latin word for knowledge, and it is a book everybody should read.

With simplicity and elegance, "Knowing" interprets the book of nature for curious readers of all sorts - but especially for those hoping to appreciate the beauty of physics without getting lost in the mathematics. Indeed, there is a world of scientific understanding in the pages of this gracefully written and inviting book, where hundreds of little diagrams substitute for the equations that physicists otherwise need to tell their tale. Readers will discover the way things work: how big things (like Earth or Moon) come from small things (like quarks and electrons), how tiny particles push and pull, and how the world hangs in the balance. We learn how an "unbiased" observer and a fixed speed of light, nothing else, conjure up E=mc2 and four-dimensional space-time. We see how Newton's clockwork universe of unwavering determination differs (but not in every respect) from Heisenberg's quantum universe of hazy uncertainty. And we see how a world of chaos throws a wrench into everybody's mechanical ideal. From tiny atoms to vast galaxies, the universe is ours to explore and to know: its particles, its interactions, its laws, its unending surprises.

Heavily illustrated with explanatory drawings and diagrams - perhaps no other science book for general readers uses diagrams so extensively - "Knowing" takes us to the edge of modern science, allowing us to peer in further than we would have dreamed possible.

"There is nothing more fundamental to everything in the entire universe than theoretical physics, and no subject more difficult to explain to the non-specialist. In addressing it in the well-titled Knowing, Munowitz has written one of the clearest and most inviting books of science exposition I have ever encountered."--Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Human Nature and The Ants

"All those who are eager to understand how the world works but have been frustrated and discouraged by the forbidding mathematical language of physical science will welcome this fascinating, lucid, and satisfying account of what we know (and don't know) about this most profound of human endeavors. Munowitz has written 'physics without tears.'" --Christian de Duve, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology and Medicine


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