The Sciences

Reviews: Physics for Entertainment

By Kira GoldenbergJan 16, 2008 6:00 AM


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Physics for Entertainment

by Yakov Perelman (Hyperion, $16.95)

If H. G. Wells had followed the rules of physics, the Invisible Man would be blind. Invisibility means no refraction of light, you see, and no refraction means no focusing, Yakov Perelman explains in Physics for Entertainment. This eccentric 1913 Soviet physics primer, released in English this month, includes a spirited defense of the eggshell, instructions for how to escape from a bottomless well, and an extra chapter imagined for Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon: breakfast in space. “‘I must boil some water for the consommé and no molecular forces, I swear, will stop me!’ the Frenchman declaimed in a temper.” Getting your dose of physics has never been so painless...or entertaining.

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