The Physics of Everyday Things, by James Kakalios (2017)

The Physics of Everyday Things, by James KakaliosI seem to be tripping over nonfiction books this season, and this is the second tome on physics in just a few weeks! Given how much I enjoyed Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I looked forward to delving into this new “pop science” title on the science behind the objects we use every day. Physics prof Kakalios, author of The Physics of Superheroes, takes the reader through a typical North American’s day to examine how physics impacts our modern lives. This hypothetical day includes a visit to the doctor, a flight, and a public presentation, giving Kakalios a chance to explain everything from electric toothbrushes, fitbits and hybrid cars to touchscreens, x-rays and those electronic keys in a hotel room. For each technology, the science is carefully explained, and occasionally includes simple illustrations. I particularly liked learning the science behind mag-lev trains – this technology fascinates me, and I thank Dr. Kakalios for explaining it in a way I can finally understand. But other topics, to be honest, sailed over my head. (What the heck is a transistor? They seem to be in everything.) Perhaps it was the tech – frankly, I just can’t get into the science of a photocopier. While clearly some of the science pushed my envelope, I would still say it is quite accessible to non-scientists who are interested in bettering their understanding of physics. It has a lot of appeal for younger readers too; in fact, teens taking high school physics will probably find the science much easier going! My thanks to Crown Publishing for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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