FEAR OF PHYSICS

A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED

Physics made easy this is not. Physics for the sophisticated but nontechnical, maybe. Krauss is a theoretical physicist who teaches one of those physics-for-poets courses at Yale. This volume, though, is a lofty view of certain unifying themes with particular reference to particle physics and quantum mechanics. The first section deals with process, describing how physicists work by excluding the irrelevant. Thus a cow can be reduced to a sphere or maybe a sphere attached by a pipe to a smaller sphere. By a simple application of scaling laws relating to area and volume, one can show that a huge ``supercow'' is not possible without radically altering the dimensions or the materials involved. Galileo excluded the effects of the medium to demonstrate that all objects fall at the same rate, and so on. Process also depends on mathematics, so Krauss enlarges on the use of orders-of- magnitude notation in science. In the second section, he explains how scientific revolutions (pace Thomas Kuhn) do not throw out the past so much as extend and revise theory to suit new scales of observation. So we go from Galileo and Newton to Einstein and special relativity to Hawking and black holes, with emphasis on how fundamental laws of force and motion hold at one scale but are revised at the quantum level. The last parts of the book are really very elegant discussions of unifying principles and symmetries, such as the equivalence of mass and energy and electricity and magnetism. Krauss introduces gauge theory, argues for the superconducting supercollider to seek the Higgs particle, discusses the possible ``end'' of physics, and—new to books of this type- -describes condensed matter physics, by which one can demonstrate that water and iron behave the same way at certain critical points. Less a guide for the perplexed than a theoretical introduction to the weirdness and beauty of the universe.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-465-05745-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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