Archive for the 'physics' Category

Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

emperorBy Roger Penrose, Martin Gardner, Martin Gardner (Foreword by)

For decades, proponents of artificial intelligence have argued that computers will soon be doing everything that a human mind can do. Admittedly, computers now play chess at the grandmaster level, but do they understand the game as we do? Can a computer eventually do everything a human mind can do?
In this absorbing and frequently contentious book, Roger Penrose–eminent physicist and winner, with Stephen Hawking, of the prestigious Wolf prize–puts forward his view that there are some facets of human thinking that can never be emulated by a machine. Penrose examines what physics and mathematics can tell us about how the mind works, what they can’t, and what we need to know to understand the physical processes of consciousness.
He is among a growing number of physicists who think Einstein wasn’t being stubborn when he said his “little finger” told him that quantum mechanics is incomplete, and he concludes that laws even deeper than quantum mechanics are essential for the operation of a mind. To support this contention, Penrose takes the reader on a dazzling tour that covers such topics as complex numbers, Turing machines, complexity theory, quantum mechanics, formal systems, Godel undecidability, phase spaces, Hilbert spaces, black holes, white holes, Hawking radiation, entropy, quasicrystals, the structure of the brain, and scores of other subjects. Call Number Q325 .P415 1989

Source Barnes&

Blip, Ping, & Buzz: Making Sense of Radar and Sonar

Monday, July 28, 2008

By Mark Denny

Call Number: TK6576 .D46 2007

With twenty years’ experience explaining technical concepts to non-experts in the radar industry, Mark Denny is the perfect guide to understanding just how remote sensing — radar or sonar — works. Weaving together interesting history and simple science, Denny reveals the world of echolocation to the curious student, technology buff, and expert alike.

Copernicus’ Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began

Friday, July 25, 2008

By Jack Repcheck

Call Number: QB36 .C8 R387 2007

Nicolaus Copernicus gave the world perhaps the most important scientific insight of the modern age, the theory that the earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. He was also the first to proclaim that the earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours. His theory was truly radical: during his lifetime nearly everyone believed that a perfectly still earth rested in the middle of the cosmos, where all the heavenly bodies revolved around it.

One of the transcendent geniuses of the early Renaissance, Copernicus was also a flawed and conflicted person. A cleric who lived during the tumultuous years of the early Reformation, he may have been sympathetic to the teachings of the Lutherans. Although he had taken a vow of celibacy, he kept at least one mistress. Supremely confident intellectually, he hesitated to disseminate his work among other scholars. It fact, he kept his astronomical work a secret, revealing it to only a few intimates, and the manuscript containing his revolutionary theory, which he refined for at least twenty years, remained “hidden among my things.”

It is unlikely that Copernicus’ masterwork would ever have been published if not for a young mathematics professor named Georg Joachim Rheticus. He had heard of Copernicus’ ideas, and with his imagination on fire he journeyed hundreds of miles to a land where, as a Lutheran, he was forbidden to travel. Rheticus’ meeting with Copernicus in a small cathedral town in northern Poland proved to be one of the most important encounters in history.

Copernicus’ Secret recreates the life and world of the scientific genius whose work revolutionized astronomy and altered our understanding of our place in the world. It tells the surprising, little-known story behind the dawn of the scientific age.

The Physics of NASCAR: How to Make Steel + Gas + Rubber = Speed

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky

Call Number: TL236.28 .L47 2008

Every NASCAR fan – at one time or another – asks the same question: Why isn’t my favorite driver winning? This is your chance to discover how much more there is to NASCAR than “Go fast, turn left and don’t crash.” If you’ve ever wondered why racecars don’t have mufflers, how “bump drafting” works, or what in the world “Let’s go up a pound on the right rear and add half a round of wedge” means, The Physics of NASCAR is for you.

In this fast-paced investigation into the adrenaline-pumping world of NASCAR, a physicist with a passion uncovers what happens when the rubber hits the road and 800- horsepower vehicles compete at 190 miles per hour only inches from one another.

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky reveals how and why drivers trust the engineering and science their teams literally build around them not only to get them across the finish line in first place, but also to keep them alive. Professor Leslie-Pelecky is a physicist in love with the sport’s beauty and power and is uniquely qualified to explain exactly how physics translates into winning races.

Based on the author’s extensive access to race shops, pit crews, crew chiefs and mechanics, this book traces the life cycle of a race car from behind the scenes at top race shops to the track. The Physics of NASCAR takes readers right into the ultra competitive world of NASCAR, from the champion driver’s hot seat behind the detachable steering wheel to the New Zealander nicknamed Kiwi in charge of shocks for the No. 19 car.

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky tells her story in terms anyone who drives a car–and maybe occasionally looks under the hood–can understand. How do drivers walk away from serious crashes? How cantwo cars travel faster together than either car can on its own? How do you dress for a 1800°F gasoline fire? In simple yet detailed, high-octane prose, this is the ultimate thrill ride for armchair speed demons, auto science buffs, and NASCAR fans at every level of interest.

Readers, start your engines. (Description by

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

by Michio Kaku

Call Number: QC75 .K18 2008

In this latest effort to popularize the sciences, City University of New York professor and media star Kaku (Hyperspace) ponders topics that many people regard as impossible, ranging from psychokinesis and telepathy to time travel and teleportation. His Class I impossibilities include force fields, telepathy and antiuniverses, which don’t violate the known laws of science and may become realities in the next century. Those in Class II await realization farther in the future and include faster-than-light travel and discovery of parallel universes. Kaku discusses only perpetual motion machines and precognition in Class III, things that aren’t possible according to our current understanding of science. He explains how what many consider to be flights of fancy are being made tangible by recent scientific discoveries ranging from rudimentary advances in teleportation to the creation of small quantities of antimatter and transmissions faster than the speed of light. Science and science fiction buffs can easily follow Kaku’s explanations as he shows that in the wonderful worlds of science, impossible things are happening every day. (Description by Publishers Weekly)

Very Special Relativity: An Illustrated Guide

Monday, July 21, 2008

By Sander Bais

Call Number: QC173.65 .B35 2007

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, first published in 1905, radically changed our understanding of the world. Familiar notions of space and time and energy were turned on their head, and our struggle with Einstein’s counterintuitive explanation of these concepts was under way. The task is no easier today than it was a hundred years ago, but in this book Sander Bais has found an original and uniquely effective way to convey the fundamental ideas of Einstein’s Special Theory.

Bais’s previous book, The Equations, was widely read and roundly praised for its clear and commonsense explanation of the math in physics. Very Special Relativity brings the same accessible approach to Einstein’s theory. Using a series of easy-to-follow diagrams and employing only elementary high school geometry, Bais conducts readers through the quirks and quandaries of such fundamental concepts as simultaneity, causality, and time dilation. The diagrams also illustrate the difference between the Newtonian view, in which time was universal, and the Einsteinian, in which the speed of light is universal.

Following Bais’s straightforward sequence of simple, commonsense arguments, readers can tinker with the theory and its great paradoxes and, finally, arrive at a truly deep understanding of Einstein’s interpretation of space and time. An intellectual journey into the heart of the Special Theory, the book offers an intimate look at the terms and ideas that define our reality.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Physics

Monday, July 21, 2008

By Jonnie T. Dennis and Gary F. Moring

Call Number: QC23.2 .D46 2006

Intended for high school and college students required to take at least one physics course, this book offers an easy-to-understand, comprehensive companion to their school textbooks that brings real-world relevance, and even a touch of fun, to Einstein’s favorite subject.

Feynman’s Tips on Physics: A Problem-Solving Supplement to the Feynman Lectures on Physics

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

By Richard P. Feynman, Michael A. Gottlieb, and Ralph Leighton

Call Number: QC23 .F47 1989 Suppl.

This new volume contains four previously unpublished lectures that Feynman gave to students preparing for exams. With characteristic insight and humor, Feynman discusses topics readers struggle with and offers valuable tips on solving physics problems. Exercises and answers by R. B. Leighton and R. E. Vogt are also included, along with an illuminating memoir by Matthew Sands. For all readers interested in physics.

Feynman Lectures on Physics: The Definitive and Extended Edition, 4 Volume Box

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, Matthew Sands, et al.

Call Number: QC23 .F47 2006

This revised edition of Feynman’s legendary lectures includes extensive corrections Feynman and his colleagues received and Caltech approved. This boxed set provides Volumes 1-3 together with Feynman’s Tips on Physics making this the complete and definitive set of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. For all readers interested in physics. (Description by