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“YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE” is a common refrain in the emails Walter Lewin receives daily from fans who have been enthralled by his world-famous video lectures about the wonders of physics. “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote one such fan. When Lewin’s lectures were made available online, he became an instant YouTube “YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE” is a common refrain in the emails Walter Lewin receives daily from fans who have been enthralled by his world-famous video lectures about the wonders of physics. “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote one such fan. When Lewin’s lectures were made available online, he became an instant YouTube celebrity, and The New York Times declared, “Walter Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits.” For more than thirty years as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly 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 why clouds are white. Now, as Carl Sagan did for astronomy and Brian Green did for cosmology, Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in For the Love of Physics, opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world all around us. “I introduce people to their own world,” writes Lewin, “the world they live in and are familiar with but don’t approach like a physicist—yet.” 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, and would it be possible to put our hand out and touch one? Whether introducing why the air smells so fresh after a lightning storm, why we briefly lose (and gain) weight when we ride in an elevator, or what the big bang would have sounded like had anyone existed to hear it, Lewin never ceases to surprise and delight with the extraordinary ability of physics to answer even the most elusive questions. Recounting his own exciting discoveries as a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy—arriving at MIT right at the start of an astonishing revolution in astronomy—he also brings to life the power of physics to reach into the vastness of space and unveil exotic uncharted territories, from the marvels of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud to the unseeable depths of black holes. “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.” His wonderfully inventive and vivid ways of introducing us to the revelations of physics impart to us a new appreciation of the remarkable beauty and intricate harmonies of the forces that govern our lives.


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“YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE” is a common refrain in the emails Walter Lewin receives daily from fans who have been enthralled by his world-famous video lectures about the wonders of physics. “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote one such fan. When Lewin’s lectures were made available online, he became an instant YouTube “YOU HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE” is a common refrain in the emails Walter Lewin receives daily from fans who have been enthralled by his world-famous video lectures about the wonders of physics. “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes,” wrote one such fan. When Lewin’s lectures were made available online, he became an instant YouTube celebrity, and The New York Times declared, “Walter Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits.” For more than thirty years as a beloved professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lewin honed his singular craft of making physics not only accessible but truly 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 why clouds are white. Now, as Carl Sagan did for astronomy and Brian Green did for cosmology, Lewin takes readers on a marvelous journey in For the Love of Physics, opening our eyes as never before to the amazing beauty and power with which physics can reveal the hidden workings of the world all around us. “I introduce people to their own world,” writes Lewin, “the world they live in and are familiar with but don’t approach like a physicist—yet.” 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, and would it be possible to put our hand out and touch one? Whether introducing why the air smells so fresh after a lightning storm, why we briefly lose (and gain) weight when we ride in an elevator, or what the big bang would have sounded like had anyone existed to hear it, Lewin never ceases to surprise and delight with the extraordinary ability of physics to answer even the most elusive questions. Recounting his own exciting discoveries as a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy—arriving at MIT right at the start of an astonishing revolution in astronomy—he also brings to life the power of physics to reach into the vastness of space and unveil exotic uncharted territories, from the marvels of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud to the unseeable depths of black holes. “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.” His wonderfully inventive and vivid ways of introducing us to the revelations of physics impart to us a new appreciation of the remarkable beauty and intricate harmonies of the forces that govern our lives.

30 review for For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This man proves that teachers make a difference. That a good teacher can make anyone care about his topic. I loved math in school, but when I got to calculus, for some reason, I just couldn't understand it. And so I decided to skip physics altogether. However, I really wanted to read the book Einstein: His Life and Universe, because I think its author, Walter Isaacson, is a genius. It seemed like the perfect marriage of author and subject! But I have never liked science, as it was taught in scho This man proves that teachers make a difference. That a good teacher can make anyone care about his topic. I loved math in school, but when I got to calculus, for some reason, I just couldn't understand it. And so I decided to skip physics altogether. However, I really wanted to read the book Einstein: His Life and Universe, because I think its author, Walter Isaacson, is a genius. It seemed like the perfect marriage of author and subject! But I have never liked science, as it was taught in school. Too much memorization, not enough excitement. And in high school, bad teachers. Meanies! I felt like I needed some type of physics background to understand Einstein. Because of Professor Lewin, I am now fascinated by science. I never thought this could happen, but his picture on the cover of the book had me questioning my preconceived notions. The audiobook was also available at one of the local libraries, so I thought I'd take a chance. I'm so glad I did. He quite simply loves physics, and his enthusiasm and passion is contagious. Walter Isaacson, with his book Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, showed me that history can be the opposite of dull if one finds the right book. This can be that book for you if you think physics is boring. Lewin blew my mind in the first chapter, as he explained in real terms the vastness of the universe. He explores stars, the magic of a straw, rainbows (in some depth), and the physics behind musical instruments, plus black holes, X-rays, and much more. He provides examples that put the "wow" back in to science, making abstract concepts concrete, and real. I had so many light bulb moments. To really appreciate this man's gift, you must see him in the classroom. Thanks to MIT's Open Courseware, you can. Here is the link to the list of lectures for his course titled "Physics I: Classical Mechanics". http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-... I promise you, you won't be bored. I'll never forget this book or its author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Abdullah

    An awesome book by an awesome man. The way of presenting knowledge is so simple that even a nerd can understand. This book talks about the basic concepts of physics which are used in our daily life and one can know and learn a lot about physics through this single book of MIT Professor, Walter Lewin. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    Walter Lewin was a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) until his retirement in 2009 and was well known for his popular lectures on physics which appeared on the MIT OpenCourseWare website - that is until MIT indefinitely suspended access to Lewin's courses on OpenCourseWare in late 2014 "after its investigation of a serious matter" (to quote the message that now appears on the OpenCourseWare website when you click on some of the links in Lewin's book). As I do Walter Lewin was a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) until his retirement in 2009 and was well known for his popular lectures on physics which appeared on the MIT OpenCourseWare website - that is until MIT indefinitely suspended access to Lewin's courses on OpenCourseWare in late 2014 "after its investigation of a serious matter" (to quote the message that now appears on the OpenCourseWare website when you click on some of the links in Lewin's book). As I don't know the outcome the investigations I will restrict myself here to this specific comment from the website but those intrigued as to what this serious matter was are free to search online. The book is a strange one, both in terms of its contents and its style of writing. The first nine chapters address a few selected areas of physics, such as bodies in motion, electricity, magnetism, rainbows, conservation of energy, but leave many other areas untouched; the final six chapters focus on the author's main area of research, namely x-ray astronomy. Undoubtedly, the book is unbalanced in terms of what it covers and doesn't cover. However, this is not so much a book that attempts to explain physics, but rather a book that explains how Lewin taught physics. Thus the book provides a platform, especially in the earlier chapters, for Lewin to describe some of the bizarre demonstrations he would perform in front of students, one in particular which appeared quite dangerous although his faith in the reproducibility of physics ensured his safety. The style of writing was not to my liking. I'm not sure who he was expecting to read the book but to my mind he comes across as somewhat patronising, assuming perhaps that his readers know nothing of physics. In reality, I suspect most readers are quite clued up on the subject, and are the reading the book largely to see how Lewin approached the subject. Nevertheless, his passion and energy for both physics and education come across in abundance and it is easy to see why he had such a good reputation as a teacher.

  4. 4 out of 5

    يوسف بوحايك

    This is the great WALTER LEWIN, my best teacher ever of physics, he makes you love physics and see the world in another way forever, in a way full of wonders and appreciations. For more pleasure it's better to see also the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a0Fb... from his book: "I learned that art is not only, or even mostly, about beauty; it is about discovery, and this is where art and physics come together for me." "When I began lecturing at MIT in the 1970s, it was part of my personality t This is the great WALTER LEWIN, my best teacher ever of physics, he makes you love physics and see the world in another way forever, in a way full of wonders and appreciations. For more pleasure it's better to see also the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a0Fb... from his book: "I learned that art is not only, or even mostly, about beauty; it is about discovery, and this is where art and physics come together for me." "When I began lecturing at MIT in the 1970s, it was part of my personality to put more emphasis on the beauty and the excitement rather than the details that would be lost on the students anyway." "Whenever students ask a question, I always say, “that's an excellent question.” The absolute last thing you want to do is make them feel they're stupid and you're smart." "It's so much more important to me for students to remember the beauty of what they have seen than whether they can reproduce what you've written on the blackboard. What counts is not what you cover, but what you uncover.".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I would love to have taken one of Walter Lewin's classes. His teaching style is fun and energetic, and he seems to love to get his students involved in his experiments. The first part of the book is a series of 20 to 30 minute segments on various topics about the physics of everyday things. The topics range from how airplanes fly to the maximum depth a snorkler can handle and why to how we measure the distances of stars. The second half of the books discusses his own career in research using x-r I would love to have taken one of Walter Lewin's classes. His teaching style is fun and energetic, and he seems to love to get his students involved in his experiments. The first part of the book is a series of 20 to 30 minute segments on various topics about the physics of everyday things. The topics range from how airplanes fly to the maximum depth a snorkler can handle and why to how we measure the distances of stars. The second half of the books discusses his own career in research using x-ray telescopes. This part is not quite as fun as the first half, but still worth a read. Note that I listened to the audio version of this book, and I had to give it my full attention, or else I wasn't able to absorb everything he was saying. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and would recommend it to anyone who has a curiosity about nature and why things work the way they do.

  6. 5 out of 5

    أميرة

    I might be too excited about this book; read with a grain of salt. If there’s an Oscar for hilariously explaining the world through physics to the layperson, ًWalter Lewin should get two. Not that I grasped everything, several things went over my head no doubt, but I enjoyed reading about them because he doesn’t take himself too seriously (I hate people who do). Added bonus: there’s the littlest amount of math here, which is great because I’m allergic. It’s called dyscalculia. That basically mea I might be too excited about this book; read with a grain of salt. If there’s an Oscar for hilariously explaining the world through physics to the layperson, ًWalter Lewin should get two. Not that I grasped everything, several things went over my head no doubt, but I enjoyed reading about them because he doesn’t take himself too seriously (I hate people who do). Added bonus: there’s the littlest amount of math here, which is great because I’m allergic. It’s called dyscalculia. That basically means I can’t handle numbers bigger than five. So if someone like me could enjoy this book, then it must be amazing!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne Swartjes

    When I saw the Dutch ratings on this book (hardly 1 star) I was utterly shocked. I had heard so many great stories about Walter Lewin, appearing in a very well-known Dutch TV-show and captivating thousands of ears of interest. I, unfortunately, haven't yet had the opportunity to experience one of his lectures, but I certainly will do some research soon. I heard that this man did a magnificent job on making serious physics understandable for less-but-still-genius-human-beings like you and me (I g When I saw the Dutch ratings on this book (hardly 1 star) I was utterly shocked. I had heard so many great stories about Walter Lewin, appearing in a very well-known Dutch TV-show and captivating thousands of ears of interest. I, unfortunately, haven't yet had the opportunity to experience one of his lectures, but I certainly will do some research soon. I heard that this man did a magnificent job on making serious physics understandable for less-but-still-genius-human-beings like you and me (I get cheesy every now and then) and that's why I, as someone who loves science but doesn't have all that much of a genius mind, bought the book the moment I saw it in the bookstore (also because it was father's day and my father said this man is truly genius, literally and figuratively). One of the only reasons why I didn't rate this book five stars, is because I read the Dutch translated version and sometimes that was a bit confusing. From the moment I started reading this book I was captivated by his easy way of writing and I was able to flow right into the wonders of science and experience them myself. What I particularly loved about this book was Lewin's enthusiasm and his explicit love for science he is constantly trying to give to his readers, as a gift. Because he's so enthusiastic about science, you get enthusiastic too, automatically. An other thing that I admired was how Lewin managed to explain the simple wonders we see every day, but most of us do not pay attention anymore because we take them for granted. Lewin explains why the sky is blue, why clouds are white, why rainbows are curved and how to spot them in an efficient way, he teaches us about black holes, about gravity, about energy and much more, all the interesting parts of physics (as far as I can tell) are explained in a rather simple way. I do have to admit that I followed physics classes for five years in High School, so I can only say that I had some background knowledge on physics before reading this book, that's why I could skip some parts of it. In the end though, Lewin is starting to lose its pace and he converts to a faster way of explaining, which turns out to be quite confusing, consequently I haven't understood all of his last few chapters. I would definitely recommend this book for people whose interests are with science (even if it's just a little bit) and want to learn about the simple wonders of the world and the universe, finding them quite complex when reading about them. Discover the mysteries and wonders of science and let Lewin take you on his tour through the universe.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hari Kumar

    This book was brought accidentally to me by my brother. For the Love of Physics is one of my most favorite and loving science books of all time. It tells about the lives of both the Physics and Proff.Lewin. Dr.Lewin has taught the world to look through the equations which many teachers and professors failed to do (If they at least knew it could be done, like my Physics teachers), and Proff.Lewin had made them a bunch of criminals (for teaching bad). It has a great and astonishing explanation from This book was brought accidentally to me by my brother. For the Love of Physics is one of my most favorite and loving science books of all time. It tells about the lives of both the Physics and Proff.Lewin. Dr.Lewin has taught the world to look through the equations which many teachers and professors failed to do (If they at least knew it could be done, like my Physics teachers), and Proff.Lewin had made them a bunch of criminals (for teaching bad). It has a great and astonishing explanation from the atom's core to the giant black holes in our elegant universe, with a mix of many stories of the development of mankind in this field of Physics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    R Ramachandran

    This book is not intended to teach physics to those who have studied physics and to those who pursue that subject professionally. To those who have forgotten their physics lessons, this will be a great recaller. It brings back all the pleasures that got lost in all the years after the college days. To those who still view the world and the life there in, in a way learned to look in their old physics classes, though not living by physics, this book will help clear any fog they collected on the way This book is not intended to teach physics to those who have studied physics and to those who pursue that subject professionally. To those who have forgotten their physics lessons, this will be a great recaller. It brings back all the pleasures that got lost in all the years after the college days. To those who still view the world and the life there in, in a way learned to look in their old physics classes, though not living by physics, this book will help clear any fog they collected on the way. For me it was like a newly tested pair of reading glasses which brought in to focus many blurred images. A wonderful book written with passion.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Interesting tidbits from this book: Lewin believes that Newton is the greatest physicist of all time (Einstein is next) because “his discoveries were so fundamental and so diverse.” Though the universe’s age is estimated to be “about” 13.7 billion years old, Lewin writes that “the edge of the observable universe is about 47 billion light-years away from us in every direction.” This is because space has “expanded enormously since the big bang,” noting Hubble’s law (“the velocity at which galaxies m Interesting tidbits from this book: Lewin believes that Newton is the greatest physicist of all time (Einstein is next) because “his discoveries were so fundamental and so diverse.” Though the universe’s age is estimated to be “about” 13.7 billion years old, Lewin writes that “the edge of the observable universe is about 47 billion light-years away from us in every direction.” This is because space has “expanded enormously since the big bang,” noting Hubble’s law (“the velocity at which galaxies move away from us is directly proportional to their distance from us. The farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is racing away.”) Lewin clarifies the somewhat confusing free fall terminology: “Free fall is when the force acting upon you is exclusively gravitational, and no other forces act on you.” The author writes that less that 20% of an airplane’s lift due to the shape of the wing where the air passing above the shaped wing speeds up relative to the air passing underneath. (Bernoulli’s principle). Reactive lift accounts for the rest (80% or greater). It is named for Newton’s third law. It occurs when air, “moving from the front of the wing to the back, is pushed downward by the wing. That’s the ‘action.’ That action must be met by an equal reaction of air pushing upward, so there is upward lift on the wing.” Controlling reaction lift is tricky, he states, especially at takeoffs and landings. “Interstellar and intergalactic space,” Lewin writes, “are millions of times closer to a vacuum than the best vacuum we can make on Earth.” But, even so, space is not empty. Matter that floats “around in space has…identifiable characteristics,” which is plasma (ionized gasses – charged particles “such as hydrogen nuclei [protons] and electrons-of widely varying density.”) Lewin goes on the state that “more than 99.9 percent of all observable matter in the universe is plasma.” On a night flight from the northeastern U.S. to Europe, sit on the left side of the airplane to see the aurora Borealis (northern lights – where the sun’s charged particles (solar wind) are directed into our atmosphere at the magnetic poles. “The temperature at the core of our own sun…produces energy at a rate equivalent to more than a billion hydrogen bombs per second.” In a supernova core collapse, “the pressure in the core can no longer hold out against the powerful pressure due to gravity, and the core collapses onto itself, causing an outward supernova explosion….The core collapses in milliseconds, and the matter falling in -- it actually races in at fantastic speeds, nearly a quarter the speed of light – raises the temperature inside to …about ten thousand times hotter than the core of our Sun.” Lewin also writes that “a core-collapse supernova emits two hundred times the energy that our sun has produced in the past 5 billion years, and all that energy is released in roughly 1 second—and 99 percent comes out in neutrinos!” After some supernova core collapses, neutron stars are formed as remnants, with mass 1.4 times the sun’s tightly compacted into a city size space, and that “a teaspoon of neutron matter would weigh 100 million tons on Earth.” The neutron star in the Crab Nebula rotates 30 times a second; the fastest known neutron star rotates at 716 times per second. After other supernova core collapses, a black hole is formed. At the center of a black hole lies a singularity, “a point with zero volume and infinite density.” A third of the stars in the night sky are actually binary stars (“binaries”). Sirius, “the brightest star in the sky,” is a “binary system made up of two stars known as Sirius A and Sirius B.” The Earth and the Moon are a binary system. “If you draw a line from the center of the Earth to the center of the Moon, there is a point on that line where the gravitational force toward the Moon is equal but opposite to the gravitational force toward the Earth.” What’s interesting about this statement is that “relative intensity” beyond any exact balance point seems inherent to gravitational and electromagnetic forces. Lewin writes that gravity distorts the fabric of spacetime, “pushing bodies into orbit through geometry.” It’s interesting that he uses “pushing” as opposed to the pulling of gravity’s attractive force.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ayush Yadav

    From electric jolts in winter, the science of rainbows....to the depths of the ocean (pressure) and to the fullest extent of the universe, the book covers it all so beautifully while walking along Prof. Lewin and his works. A wonderfully written and a must read for any science enthusiast, to say the least. "There is a intrinsic beauty in everyday things" and I am sure you'll appreciate it more after this book. PS: you will definitely think twice before picking your seat in a flight now. From electric jolts in winter, the science of rainbows....to the depths of the ocean (pressure) and to the fullest extent of the universe, the book covers it all so beautifully while walking along Prof. Lewin and his works. A wonderfully written and a must read for any science enthusiast, to say the least. "There is a intrinsic beauty in everyday things" and I am sure you'll appreciate it more after this book. PS: you will definitely think twice before picking your seat in a flight now.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susmit Islam

    People get into physics after they have seen some cool demos, or after they've been explained some of the really fun stuff around us. They start studying physics, their quest to understanding the language of the universe. Their quest of conversing with the universe. But after embarking on the journey, most of them lose sight of their goal. They're so busy conversing in the language of the universe that they forget about their own language. They forget to look around and see what the universe is t People get into physics after they have seen some cool demos, or after they've been explained some of the really fun stuff around us. They start studying physics, their quest to understanding the language of the universe. Their quest of conversing with the universe. But after embarking on the journey, most of them lose sight of their goal. They're so busy conversing in the language of the universe that they forget about their own language. They forget to look around and see what the universe is telling them. Not just writing a bunch of equations that make no sense to anyone. My journey has just been like that, and I thank Professor Lewin for re-opening that eye I had lost. The eye to see the beauty of the universe. The eye to see the reality hidden beneath the abstract mathematical equations. A very highly recommended book for anyone interested in physics. :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Malek Dabbous

    This book was on Bill Gates' top book in 2011. Prof. Lewin's method of teaching should be adopted by all professors. He teaches physics by holding experiments in class, and backs them up with formulas. He teaches not to cover the details in physics, but to uncover the beauty of the world thru physics. Check out his experiments on YouTube, they are actually cool. The last quarter of the book went into too much technical details on his area of expertise: X-Ray - that was really torturous to get th This book was on Bill Gates' top book in 2011. Prof. Lewin's method of teaching should be adopted by all professors. He teaches physics by holding experiments in class, and backs them up with formulas. He teaches not to cover the details in physics, but to uncover the beauty of the world thru physics. Check out his experiments on YouTube, they are actually cool. The last quarter of the book went into too much technical details on his area of expertise: X-Ray - that was really torturous to get thru.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    For all y'all McGill kids: Rated 2/5 Ken Ragans. A fun read, but no more than a rehashing of Phys 131 and 142 with more rainbows and without any calculus (honestly, it reads like the lecture transcripts). Too soon, still traumatized by the final exam, and therefore didn't enjoy it. I could see Amanda circa 2016 adoring this book though. For all y'all McGill kids: Rated 2/5 Ken Ragans. A fun read, but no more than a rehashing of Phys 131 and 142 with more rainbows and without any calculus (honestly, it reads like the lecture transcripts). Too soon, still traumatized by the final exam, and therefore didn't enjoy it. I could see Amanda circa 2016 adoring this book though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erickson

    Entertaining and light. Insightful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Berry ミ☆

    I am told this book will alter my perspective on physics...? can't really see how that's EVER gonna be happening in the foreseeable future, but all things ("all things" being a euphemism for my rapidly deteriorating grades that'll inevitably snowball into some sort of self-destructive, life-affirming climax - because I AM SO NOT READY FOR MY BOARD EXAMS THEY'RE IN SIX MONTHS AND PHYSICS IS COMPULSORY SOMEBODY WALTER LEWIN HELP ME - naturally) considered, it's worth a shot, right?:/ (and yeah I'm I am told this book will alter my perspective on physics...? can't really see how that's EVER gonna be happening in the foreseeable future, but all things ("all things" being a euphemism for my rapidly deteriorating grades that'll inevitably snowball into some sort of self-destructive, life-affirming climax - because I AM SO NOT READY FOR MY BOARD EXAMS THEY'RE IN SIX MONTHS AND PHYSICS IS COMPULSORY SOMEBODY WALTER LEWIN HELP ME - naturally) considered, it's worth a shot, right?:/ (and yeah I'm pretty much desperate at this point) and I am CALLING IT - if this book ends up romanticizing how "practical" or "all-encompassing" or "naturally observable" physics is, I will figuratively slam the goddamned thing across the room. why does everyone assume that the root cause of all the universal hate physics get is a deep-rooted fear of math??! I'm sick of everything wrong with the world being unanimously attributed to math! I just...I need SOMETHING to convince me that everything about the subject doesn't end in hopeless oblivion. I'll take anything. please. counting on you (and every single member of your surprisingly ardent Reddit fanbase that will swear by every single word you've historically penned and actually managed to convince me - ME! - to read a book about physics in my precious free time), Mr. Lewin.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    The author was deeply involved in X-ray astronomy research in the 1970s, and his narrative of his experiences is really fascinating. A few of the earlier chapters are a bit basic in terms of the physics concepts he covers (conservation of energy, Faraday’s law, etc.), but in the later chapters, he tells the story of how the field of X-ray astronomy grew, and in personal involvement. He talks a lot about Cyg X-1 and even mentions Tom Bolton and his discovery of the black hole at the Dunlop Observ The author was deeply involved in X-ray astronomy research in the 1970s, and his narrative of his experiences is really fascinating. A few of the earlier chapters are a bit basic in terms of the physics concepts he covers (conservation of energy, Faraday’s law, etc.), but in the later chapters, he tells the story of how the field of X-ray astronomy grew, and in personal involvement. He talks a lot about Cyg X-1 and even mentions Tom Bolton and his discovery of the black hole at the Dunlop Observatory right here in Toronto (and Stephen Hawking’s bet!). There's also a good deal about his personal stories, like surviving the Holocaust and his enamoration with art. I found the book really interesting and entertaining – and not what I expected; I thought it would be a pretty basic introduction to first-year undergrad physics and his MIT course, but was pleasantly surprised that he talks a lot about his personal experiences as a physicist/astronomer at a very exciting time. There are some quite amazing stories in there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pongsak Sarapukdee

    Not only about physics thing, it is about his life also

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary Mojica

    How much I've enjoyed Mr Lewin's courses. His charisma for teaching is beyond everything. How nice of him to continue touching so many lives and inspiring people to love Physics. Of course, I also love it. After all, I'm a physicist too. How much I've enjoyed Mr Lewin's courses. His charisma for teaching is beyond everything. How nice of him to continue touching so many lives and inspiring people to love Physics. Of course, I also love it. After all, I'm a physicist too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Piyush Behera

    I saw his physics videos way back and they were awesome. In those videos he made physics funnier and more interesting . This book is no less. Wish I had him as my professor.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Converse

    Walter Lewin is a professor of physics at MIT, where he teaches several of the introductory physics courses. These courses, which are available on the web at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm, are apparently very popular. I can't vouch for them, as I haven't looked at any of them yet. I can say that the book is a nice blend of popular science and memoir. The book was written with a co-author, Warren Goldstein, who is a professor of history at the University of Hartford. The book begins by explaini Walter Lewin is a professor of physics at MIT, where he teaches several of the introductory physics courses. These courses, which are available on the web at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm, are apparently very popular. I can't vouch for them, as I haven't looked at any of them yet. I can say that the book is a nice blend of popular science and memoir. The book was written with a co-author, Warren Goldstein, who is a professor of history at the University of Hartford. The book begins by explaining how Lewin, who was born in the Netherlands a few years before the beginning of the Second World War, came to work at MIT. His boyhood was marred by the German invasion of the Netherlands and the subsequent murder of several of Lewin's Jewish relatives (on his father's side) by the Nazi's and the temporary disappearance of his father into hiding. After graduate school in the Netherlands, his expertise with regard to measurements of gamma rays from radioactive materials got him an invitation to work at MIT where a group investiating astronomical sources of X-rays thought that his skills would be useful in this new arena. In this early part of the book the authors show their skill at blending both an explanation of physics (what is radioactivity? what are gamma rays) with biographical material in way that enhances both, rather than leading to jarring transitions. The next several chapters then focus more on physics topcs physics topics, such as the laws of motion, gravity, electricity, magnetism, with some relativity and quantum mechanics discussed as needed. The topics are covered mainly at a qualitative level, with few equations. I think that readers who are unfamilar with these topics would gain a good start on a qualitative understanding of these topics. The discussions of the classroom demonstrations that Lewin uses at MIT helps to make the concepts more easily understood. There are frequent web links given so readers can look up examples or demonstrations of phenomena relevant to the topic at hand. There is also a short color photo insert, devoted mainly to either rainbows, one of his favorite topics, or to his research interest in X-rays produced by astronomical objects. In the later chapters the book more resembles a memoir, as the co-authors describe Lewin's efforts to observe astronomical sources of X-rays, a goal made difficult by the generally fortunate circumstance that the earth's atmosphere absorbs most of them before they get to the surface. One way of getting a detector high enough in the atmosphere to detect X-rays is to attach it to a balloon, and Lewin did that several times in his career, a task made more difficult that the best launch site was in Australia. The co-authors do a good job emphasizing the necessity of money in experimental science, explaining why scientists spend much of their time writing grant proposals to pay for the equipment and travel, not to mention salaries for graduate students and postdoctoral associates. We then move on to discussing the interpretation of the results of X-ray observations, a subject which nicely makes use of topics discussed earlier and introduces new subjects, such as black holes and neutron stars. The latter turn out to be the main X-ray sources in the sky. The book ends with Lewin's thoughts on how both great science and great art (he is an art collector and has collaborated with artists in their work) both involve the creation of new and informative ways of interpreting the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gautam Krishna

    A lovely perspective of looking at the daily world. Walter Lewin simply spoke my mind. My ideology of teaching: Teach not what to think, but how to think.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    In this book, Dr. Lewin deciphers many confusing aspects of natural phenomenon which surround us. The mysteries of rainbows and sound, electricity and magnetism, etc., are brought within our grasp of understanding after listening to Lewin's discussions. He uses layman's terms, for the most part, and gives simple yet practical examples to make his point. He seems genuinely interested in opening a new sense of understanding of the many seemingly complex things which surround us. However, I suspect In this book, Dr. Lewin deciphers many confusing aspects of natural phenomenon which surround us. The mysteries of rainbows and sound, electricity and magnetism, etc., are brought within our grasp of understanding after listening to Lewin's discussions. He uses layman's terms, for the most part, and gives simple yet practical examples to make his point. He seems genuinely interested in opening a new sense of understanding of the many seemingly complex things which surround us. However, I suspect Dr. Lewin started with the simpler examples, which many people will have a familiarity with and an intuitive sense about, and then gradually introduced topics which for me, where more difficult to grasp. His latter topics dealing with the stars and supernovas, pulsars, neutron starts, stellar x-ray sources, and less familiar units of measure took a toll on my ability to absorb. In those areas, I strongly suspect that the audio book version, which I listened to, should have been replaced by the bound book to allow a more personal pace, and to allow examination of some diagrams or drawings. Nonetheless, Dr. Lewin succeeded in most areas to demonstrate an ability to take seemingly complex phenomenon, and explain them in everyman's terms, bringing a much improved sense of understanding to us all. With fewer and fewer Americans studying science, this book can provide useful insights into better understanding the world we live in.

  24. 4 out of 5

    J.R.

    You have to understand before reading this, that Lewin has a genuine love of both physics and education. His love is shown plainly in the pages, and while he leaves much to doubt, it's clear the reader should explore to learn more. There is an abundant amount of resources out there for the pop-physicist to read, but most books gloss over the smaller things that are deemed "uninteresting" and go for really big physics stuff. Lewin's book, on the other hand does something incredible. Lewin takes t You have to understand before reading this, that Lewin has a genuine love of both physics and education. His love is shown plainly in the pages, and while he leaves much to doubt, it's clear the reader should explore to learn more. There is an abundant amount of resources out there for the pop-physicist to read, but most books gloss over the smaller things that are deemed "uninteresting" and go for really big physics stuff. Lewin's book, on the other hand does something incredible. Lewin takes the ordinary and makes you realize how extraordinary it really is. His take on rainbows will have you both laughing and looking around like a mad man whenever one is in the sky. Your friends will mock you for taking their polarized glasses and showing them how it disappears. But you will do it anyway, because Lewin showed you just how amazing it is! The professor, takes the most subtle of physics and turns it into something much better he turns it into something you look for on a daily level. This book could not have come from a mind with a lesser understanding of our world.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Hanks

    Great book written by what sounds to be a great teacher. He tries to condense the material from several of his MIT introductory physics classes into book format. I've learned that his class lectures have become quite popular on Youtube and that this book is an attempt to expand on that popularity and reach an even wider audience. I say bravo! I loved his simple explanations and obvious love of the topics. Because of the format, he was forced to describe several of his more famous physics demonst Great book written by what sounds to be a great teacher. He tries to condense the material from several of his MIT introductory physics classes into book format. I've learned that his class lectures have become quite popular on Youtube and that this book is an attempt to expand on that popularity and reach an even wider audience. I say bravo! I loved his simple explanations and obvious love of the topics. Because of the format, he was forced to describe several of his more famous physics demonstrations which, I of course looked up on Youtube to watch, and they were fascinating! He's teaching very basic principles, but doing so in a fun way that makes you want to learn more. I wish more teachers/professors tried as hard to make their subjects interesting and fun.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tnahsin Garg

    Being a fan of Dr. Lewin, I picked up this one to clear my head of all the literary stuff that I've been reading. And turned out, it was quite a delightful read. While it wouldn't be fair to criticize the book on terms of prose, so if you're picking this book up, you better be interested in science! While most of the concepts revolved around basic physics, and could be boring to a science major, but the real beauty is the way Walter explains them in the most basic sense. I particularly liked his Being a fan of Dr. Lewin, I picked up this one to clear my head of all the literary stuff that I've been reading. And turned out, it was quite a delightful read. While it wouldn't be fair to criticize the book on terms of prose, so if you're picking this book up, you better be interested in science! While most of the concepts revolved around basic physics, and could be boring to a science major, but the real beauty is the way Walter explains them in the most basic sense. I particularly liked his in depth tackling of static electricity and rainbows - the 2 most commonly misunderstood phenomena.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mishehu

    5 stars for the sheer joy the author takes in teaching his readers. As popular physics treatments go, there's not much here an interested reader isn't likely to have encountered elsewhere -- other than the author's account of his own very interesting scientific autobiography. But there's great pleasure to be had in seeing the whole history and enterprise of physics through the eyes of this boyishly enthusiastic guide. It's no wonder Lewin's classes are as widely admired as they are. I plan to wa 5 stars for the sheer joy the author takes in teaching his readers. As popular physics treatments go, there's not much here an interested reader isn't likely to have encountered elsewhere -- other than the author's account of his own very interesting scientific autobiography. But there's great pleasure to be had in seeing the whole history and enterprise of physics through the eyes of this boyishly enthusiastic guide. It's no wonder Lewin's classes are as widely admired as they are. I plan to watch them myself one day. It was a pleasure reading this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    Lewin's personal narrative is likely to grab most readers right away. His life, from a childhood spent hiding from Nazis to a grown man who became a world renowned physicist, is inspiring to say the least. Lewin's love of physics oozes out of him on every page, in every lecture, and seemingly in his every day life. It is easy to see why his lectures are so popular. In this book, Lewin brought key ideas from his lecture series to the reader. After relating basic concepts of physics, Lewin detaile Lewin's personal narrative is likely to grab most readers right away. His life, from a childhood spent hiding from Nazis to a grown man who became a world renowned physicist, is inspiring to say the least. Lewin's love of physics oozes out of him on every page, in every lecture, and seemingly in his every day life. It is easy to see why his lectures are so popular. In this book, Lewin brought key ideas from his lecture series to the reader. After relating basic concepts of physics, Lewin detailed his research in x-ray astronomy and how we came to "see" the cosmos.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Reading this book is almost like being at one of Prof. Lewin's lectures! (For those who haven't had the opportunity, he provides links to some of them on MIT's OpenCourseWare site.) The only difference between this and the actual lectures is that he requires less math background on the reader's part than is expected from MIT freshmen- there's very little in the way of math or equations. If you're even a little interested in physics, check it out! Reading this book is almost like being at one of Prof. Lewin's lectures! (For those who haven't had the opportunity, he provides links to some of them on MIT's OpenCourseWare site.) The only difference between this and the actual lectures is that he requires less math background on the reader's part than is expected from MIT freshmen- there's very little in the way of math or equations. If you're even a little interested in physics, check it out!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    ONe of the best science books I've read in a while. The author transmits his love of science and the wonders that we can discover through physics. He has lectures online and I need to watch them. It takes me back to my undergraduate days, when everything was new and exciting. The book just oozes with the joy of discovery that is the mark of a true scientist. ONe of the best science books I've read in a while. The author transmits his love of science and the wonders that we can discover through physics. He has lectures online and I need to watch them. It takes me back to my undergraduate days, when everything was new and exciting. The book just oozes with the joy of discovery that is the mark of a true scientist.

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