KNOWLEDGE AND WONDER: The Natural World As Man Knows It by Victor F. Weisskopf

KNOWLEDGE AND WONDER: The Natural World As Man Knows It

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Unsatisfactory illustrations can spell disaster for a routine book. In this case, the author's faith in the propriety of ""the trend toward universality of science"" has produced a potpourri of chemistry, physics, geology, biology, and astronomy facts dressed up with drawings, a goodly number of which add nothing to the meaning and only seem to clutter the pages. The discussion of Planck's formula, an equation in quantum theory, is illustrated, for example, by a redundant drafts-man's rendering of the simple letters of the equation; and a hydrogen gas cluster is represented by an array of specks that could be anything. Weisskopf is at his best when recounting the various interpretations of the expanding universe theory. In other areas, his concepts stray far from useful information, and in some cases he sets the cart firmly before the horse: ""Other objects about us, such as furniture, tools, cars, houses, are all of roughly the same size as our body; if this were not so, we could not handle them easily"". He fails to note that these man-made objects were designed by men who expected to be able to ""handle them easily"" -- else why make them at all? The world does wonder, and does need knowledge, but unfortunately this book does not cope adequately with the problem.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday