UNIVERSE, EARTH & ATOM by Dr. Alan E. Nourse
Kirkus Star


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Alan Nourse is not a physicist but a physician who finds time to write books. In some 750 pages he undertakes to describe what all of physics is about. And he succeeds. First he explains why the stuff of classical mechanics--inertia, gravity, momentum and forces--is meaningful in your life. Not in the usual textbooky way of showing you a picture of a satellite and saying ""This satellite couldn't orbit without the Law of Conservation of Momentum,"" but through everyday examples like driving a car or getting off a bus. The language is everyday, in fact, not brilliant, but lucid, almost conversational. He manages to invest the written page with the gifted teacher's knack of anticipating the sticky parts. It's hard to believe anyone could convey as much understanding as Nourse does with so few recourses to symbols or equations. It's almost armchair physics, except he does require your full concentration. In other words it's not a ""royal road to physics"" nor ""physics made easy"" but it is physics made understandable and relevant. Even after taking you through the pathways of relativity, of astro-,atomic and nuclear physics, he allows himself the indulgence in the last chapters of dealing with ""practical applications,"" and so lasers, transistors, superconductivity, nuclear reactors and controlled thermonuclear experiments are scanned. For one eerie moment you feel he's going to tell you how to build a hydrogen bomb--and you'll know! That's how good he is.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row