This study of physical science looks beyond phenomena to the underlying framework of laws and principles worked out, for the most part, in the last 400 years. After a nod to Archimedes, Fleisher begins as usual with the line of astronomers from Copernicus to Galileo and concludes with early developments in quantum theory, when atoms were still just neutrons, protons and electrons. Some of his more general assertions may be hard to prove (Galileo was hardly ""the first great scientist to use experiments,"" and spectroscopy was a well-developed science before quantum theory came down the pike), but he explains some two-dozen specific physical principles clearly, with a minimum of mathematics, peppering his discussion with thought experiments or simple projects that can be constructed with household materials. Supplement this with a book from the large bibliography, or something newer such as Berger's Atoms, molecules and quarks (Putnam, 1986), which focuses on the current state of physics, to give practiced readers a good picture of how the universe plays, and how we discovered the rules. Illustrations amplify and lighten the text. Index.