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For the Love of Physics

From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge Of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics

Walter Lewin

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For the Love of Physics, beloved MIT professor Walter Lewin, whose riveting physics lectures made him a YouTube super-star, takes readers on a remarkably fun, inventive, and often wacky journey that brings the joys of physics to life.

For the Love of Physics captures Walter Lewin’s extraordinary intellect, passion for physics, and brilliance as a teacher”—Bill Gates.

For more than thirty years as a renowned professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lewin’s lectures made physics not only accessible but fun, whether putting his head in the path of a wrecking ball, supercharging himself with three hundred thousand volts of electricity, or demonstrating why the sky is blue and clouds are white. In
For the Love of Physics, Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey
, opening our eyes as never before to the wonders of physics and its amazing ability to reveal the beauty and power embedded in our world.

Could it be true that we are shorter standing up than lying down? Why can we snorkel no deeper than about one foot below the surface? Why are the colors of a rainbow always in the same order, can we stretch a hand out and touch one?

Using superbly clear and simple explanations of phenomena we’ve always wondered about, such as what the big bang would have sounded like had anyone existed to hear it, Lewin surprises and delights with physics-based answers to even the most elusive questions.

Whether showing us that a flea is strong enough to pull a heavy book across a table, or describing the coolest, weirdest facts about the tiniest bits of matter, Lewin always entertains as he edifies. “For me,” Lewin writes, “physics is a way of seeing—the spectacular and the mundane, the immense and the minute—as a beautiful, thrillingly interwoven whole.”
For the Love of Physics is a rare gem that will change the way readers see the world.

"In this fun, engaging and accessible book, Walter Lewin, a superhero of the classroom, uses his powers for Good - ours! The authors' share the joy of learning that the world is a knowable place."--James Kakalios, Professor and author of The Physics of Superheroes and The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 302
Erscheinungsdatum 15.03.2012
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-4516-0713-0
Verlag Simon & Schuster US
Maße (L/B/H) 21,8/14,4/2,5 cm
Gewicht 280 g
Abbildungen black & white illustrations, colour plates
Verkaufsrang 7177


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  • For the Love of Physics CHAPTER 1

    From the Nucleus to Deep Space

    It's amazing, really. My mother's father was illiterate, a custodian. Two generations later I'm a full professor at MIT. I owe a lot to the Dutch educational system. I went to graduate school at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and killed three birds with one stone.

    Right from the start, I began teaching physics. To pay for school I had to take out a loan from the Dutch government, and if I taught full time, at least twenty hours a week, each year the government would forgive one-fifth of my loan. Another advantage of teaching was that I wouldn't have to serve in the army. The military would have been the worst, an absolute disaster for me. I'm allergic to all forms of authority-it's just in my personality-and I knew I would have ended up mouthing off and scrubbing floors. So I taught math and physics full time, twenty-two contact hours per week, at the Libanon Lyceum in Rotterdam, to sixteen-and seventeen-year-olds. I avoided the army, did not have to pay back my loan, and was getting my PhD, all at the same time.

    I also learned to teach. For me, teaching high school students, being able to change the minds of young people in a positive way, that was thrilling. I always tried to make classes interesting but also fun for the students, even though the school itself was quite strict. The classroom doors had transom windows at the top, and one of the headmasters would sometimes climb up on a chair and spy on teachers through the transom. Can you believe it?

    I wasn't caught up in the school culture, and being in graduate school, I was boiling over with enthusiasm. My goal was to impart that enthusiasm to my students, to help them see the beauty of the world all around them in a new way, to change them so that they would see the world of physics as beautiful, and would understand that physics is everywhere, that it permeates our lives. What counts, I found, is not what you cover, but what you uncover. Covering subjects in a class can be a boring exercise, and students feel it. Uncovering the laws of physics and making them see through the equations, on the other hand, demonstrates the process of discovery, with all its newness and excitement, and students love being part of it.

    I got to do this also in a different way far outside the classroom. Every year the school sponsored a week-long vacation when a teacher would take the kids on a trip to a fairly remote and primitive campsite. My wife, Huibertha, and I did it once and loved it. We all cooked together and slept in tents. Then, since we were so far from city lights, we woke all the kids up in the middle of one night, gave them hot chocolate, and took them out to look at the stars. We identified constellations and planets and they got to see the Milky Way in its full glory.

    I wasn't studying or even teaching astrophysics-in fact, I was designing experiments to detect some of the smallest particles in the universe-but I'd always been fascinated by astronomy. The truth is that just about every physicist who walks the Earth has a love for astronomy. Many physicists I know built their own telescopes when they were in high school. My longtime friend and MIT colleague George Clark ground and polished a 6-inch mirror for a telescope when he was in high school. Why do physicists love astronomy so much? For one thing, many advances in physics-theories of orbital motion, for instance-have resulted from astronomical questions, observations, and theories. But also, astronomy is physics, writ large across the night sky: eclipses, comets, shooting stars, globular clusters, neutron stars, gamma-ray bursts, jets, planetary nebulae, supernovae, clusters