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Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know »

Book cover image of Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know by Richard A. Muller

Authors: Richard A. Muller
ISBN-13: 9780691135045, ISBN-10: 0691135045
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Date Published: July 2010
Edition: (Non-applicable)

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Author Biography: Richard A. Muller

Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a past winner of the MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of "Nemesis" (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) and "Physics for Future Presidents" (Norton).

Book Synopsis

"Modern science and technology have the power to shape the world we live in, for good or for evil. Muller, himself a brilliant, creative scientist, has distilled the most important scientific principles that define our choices, and has presented them clearly and objectively. To make wise decisions, not only future presidents, but future business and community leaders, and thoughtful citizens generally, need the information in this book."—Frank Wilczek, Nobel Prize—winning physicist

"Richard Muller has written an amazing and very entertaining book, not only for future presidents but for just about everyone else. It's written in a nonmathematical style, but includes tidbits that will amaze even working physicists. This is a great book that should be read by everyone."—David Goodstein, California Institute of Technology

"Anyone who aspires to be president (of any enlightened organization)—or for that matter, anyone who would like to be led by an informed president—should read this book. Extraterrestrials would surely be amazed that the citizens of the most powerful country on earth routinely elect presidents who proudly profess to know nothing about science and technology. We can only dream that one day presidential debates will include a quiz based on this book."—A. Zee, author of Fearful Symmetry

"Clear, inviting, and humorous, this is the first nonquantitative book I've seen that covers all the topics of physics. The introduction of current social and political issues is excellent. Students will want to read this book from cover to cover. It could increase scientific literacy significantly."—Mark Oreglia, University of Chicago

"Physics and Technology for Future Presidents provides a new answer to an old problem: how to teach physics to nontechnical students. Richard Muller does not 'dumb down' the technical aspects of physics; he skips them altogether and focuses on physics results rather than methods. Fun to read and accessible to general readers, this book presents a lot of interesting physics facts."—Vadim Kaplunovsky, University of Texas, Austin

Henry Fountain - New York Times

'Physics for Future Presidents' is a course, yes (with the professor's best seller, and soon its sequel, serving as textbook), but it is really more a tour de force. Richard A. Muller presents an astonishing amount of information on atoms, antimatter and other subjects. But since these are actual lectures, recorded in a hall on the Berkeley campus. . . . It's all highly entertaining and educational, although it's hard to imagine being able to absorb it all. The course is geared for nonscientists, billed as being long on concepts and short on math, and covers topics like radioactivity, climate change and waves of all kinds. Yet it doesn't spare details.

Table of Contents

Preface ix Physics Is the Liberal Arts of High- Tech ix An Ideal Student x Physics for the Future Leader xi

CHAPTER 1: Energy and Power and the Physics of Explosions 1
Explosions and Energy 2
Power 19

CHAPTER Review 31

CHAPTER 2: Atoms and Heat 38
Quandaries 38
Atoms and Molecules and the Meaning of Heat 39
Temperature 43
Chapter Review 65

CHAPTER 3: Gravity, Force, and Space 72
Gravity Surprises 72
The Force of Gravity 73
Push Accelerates—Newton's Third Law 75
Orbiting the Earth, and Weightlessness 75
Escape to Infi nity 81
Air Resistance and Fuel Efficiency 83
Momentum 89
Rockets 92
Airplanes, Helicopters, and Fans 95
Convection—Thunderstorms and Heaters 98
Angular Momentum and Torque 99
Chapter Review 101

CHAPTER 4: Nuclei and Radioactivity 108
Radioactivity 108
Fission 138
Fusion 138
Back to the Beginning 143
Chapter Review 143

CHAPTER 5: Chain Reactions, Nuclear Reactors, and Atomic Bombs 152
A Multitude of Chain Reactions 152
Nuclear Weapons Basics 165
Nuclear Reactors 176
Nuclear Waste 182
Chapter Review 193

CHAPTER 6: Electricity and Magnetism 201
Electricity Is . . . 201
Magnetism Is . . . 201
Electricity 202
Electric Power 209
Magnets 212
Electric and Magnetic Fields 216
Electromagnets 217
Electric Motors 221
Electric Generators 221
Transformers 225
Magnetic Levitation 226
Rail Guns 227
AC versus DC 228
Chapter Review 231

CHAPTER 7: Waves Including UFOs, Earthquakes, and Music 239
Two Strange but True Stories 239
Waves 241
Chapter Review 272

CHAPTER 8: Light 282
High- Tech Light 282
What Is Light? 283
Color 286
Images 292
Mirrors 295
Slow Light 299
Lenses 305
Eyes 306
Telescopes and Microscopes 309
Spreading Light— Diffraction 310
Holograms 311
Polarization 312
Chapter Review 316

CHAPTER 9: Invisible Light 324
An Opening Anecdote: Watching Illegal Immigrants Cross the Border in Darkness 324
Infrared Radiation 326
UV—"Black Light" 336
The Ozone Layer 338
Electromagnetic Radiation—an Overview 341
Medical Imaging 346
Ultrasound—Sonar (Bats and Submarines) 351
Chapter Review 353

CHAPTER 10: Climate Change 363
Global Warming 363
Solutions 390
Chapter Review 397

CHAPTER 11: Quantum Physics 404
Electron Waves 405
Laser—a Quantum Chain Reaction 409
The Photoelectric Effect 416
Quantum Physics of Gamma Rays and X-Rays 419
Semiconductor Transistors 420
Diode Transistors 421
Transistors 423
Superconductors 425
Electron Microscope 426
Deeper Aspects of Quantum Physics 427
Tunneling 433
Quantum Computers 435
Chapter Review 436

CHAPTER 12: Relativity 443
A Dialogue 443
Events—and the "Fourth Dimension" 444
Time Dilation 445
Lorentz Contraction 448
Relative Velocities 448
Energy and Mass 450
General Relativity— a Theory of Gravity 458
Questions about Time 459
Chapter Review 460

CHAPTER 13: The Universe 467
Puzzles 467
The Solar System 467
Galaxies 469
Looking Back in Time 474
Expansion of the Universe 474
Dark Energy 476
The Beginning 476
Theory of Everything 481
Chapter Review 482

Epilogue (a poem) 489
Index 493




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