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The Atom and the Apple: Twelve Tales from Contemporary Physics

Popular Science

By: Sebastien Balibar

200 pages, 9 halftones, 10 line illus

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Nov 2008 | #176256 | ISBN-13: 9780691131085
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.99 $32/€27 approx

About this book

Where is mankind located in the Universe? What goes on inside atoms? Was Einstein always right? Will we find extraterrestrial life in the near future? And what should be done about global warming? Sebastien Balibar, a leading authority in physics, uses illuminating stories from his own life to answer the most intriguing questions in the physical sciences today.

"The Atom and the Apple" considers aspects of our environment - the things we see around us, but seldom truly understand - and shows that science can be an exciting adventure grounded in the phenomena of the daily world.Balibar examines twelve problems spanning the frontiers of physics, and he devotes a chapter to each issue. He looks at chaos theory, cosmology, fluid mechanics, and climatology. He explains how we discovered the age of the Earth, how we know the Universe is expanding ever more rapidly, and why the spiral patterns of pinecones and sunflowers are related to the Golden Ratio in mathematics. He scrutinizes how the collective behavior of atoms leads to such amazing results as lasers, superconductors, or superfluids. As Balibar invites us to appreciate the physics hidden within the sights and sounds of the natural world, he also recounts the experiences of his childhood and career that were pivotal to his lifelong passion for science.
Written for general readers, "The Atom and the Apple" explores fascinating aspects of our world, and demonstrates why the pursuit of scientific knowledge is well worth everyone's time, regardless of scientific background.


A Few Apples to Sink Your Teeth Into ix Chapter 1: Black Night 1 Chapter 2: My Cousin the Leek 16 Chapter 3: I Am Radioactive 26 Chapter 4: Einstein, the Flute, and Quantum Dew 40 Chapter 5: Is My Table Quantum? 54 Chapter 6: The Power of Words 71 Chapter 7: Crystals and Glasses 91 Chapter 8: God, Helium, and Universality 105 Chapter 9: Cyclists and Butterflies 117 Chapter 1: Other Apples 132 Chapter 1: From Pianos to the Sun 146 Chapter 1: I Speak English 160 What Don't I Know? 172 Notes 179 Index 184

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Sebastien Balibar is professor of physics at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

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