FROM QUARKS TO QUASARS: A Tour of the Universe by James & Jane Fitz-Randolph Jespersen

FROM QUARKS TO QUASARS: A Tour of the Universe

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Physics enlivened, from its foundations to today's quirks and quarks. In the beginning were the Greeks, with a passion for symmetry and a belief that the universe was merely a shadow cast in the mind. Now there are particle accelerators miles long, equations scarcely shorter, a passionate search for symmetry, and a growing suspicion that spoken, written, and mathematical descriptions of the universe are mere shadows of reality cast by the mind. In the years between, Copernicus overthrew Ptolemy; Bruno burned and Galileo recanted; Newton discovered f=ma (the laws of motion) optics, and calculus in a few gray afternoons in Lincolnshire; the Czar granted Mendeleyev a divorce; an unruly and indifferent student named Einstein declared all things relative and some things, like energy and matter, related; and some believed that the world began with a bang and would end in a black hole. The physicist half of this team, Jespersen, credits Gamow's One, Two, Three, Infinity as inspiration; clearly this book is aimed at a similar audience. Not a physics primer, but a rumination and clarification for the literate in physics as well as the budding acolyte, Numerous anecdotes, cartoons, and asides (some enlightening, others entertaining) surround the narrative that traces our understanding of the fundamental stuff of the universe. Some things are given light treatment (the weak torte), or are missing (heat and thermodynamics), but the main thread is clear and the trip is exhilarating, Highly worthwhile for a few, useful for more.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Page count: 157pp
Publisher: Atheneum