Questioning the Universe: Concepts in Physics

Questioning the Universe: Concepts in Physics

By: Ahren Sadoff (author)Paperback

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Description

WINNER 2009 CHOICE AWARD OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC TITLE! The typical introduction to physics leaves readers with the impression that physics is about 30 different, unconnected topics such as motion, forces, gravity, electricity, light, heat, energy, and atoms. More often than not, these readers are left to conclude that physics is mostly about boring, lifeless numbers. Questioning the Universe: Concepts in Physics offers the nonscientist an alternative view: one that demonstrates how physics is perpetually evolving and shows how so many seemingly diverse concepts are intimately connected. In fact, one could argue that the most important ideas in modern physics are all about unification, and that these ideas are as fascinating as they are elegant. Physicists today believe that Mother Nature is remarkably efficient and requires only a relatively small number of laws to keep her universe in working order. We may not yet know all of these laws; but at the center of physics is a faith that she is indeed understandable ...and that someday, we will see her full beauty. The purpose of this book is to tell readers the story of what we have learned about nature so far and how we have done it. Written to arouse curiosity, this compelling and readable work: * Delves into the most basic laws regarding motion and energy, waves and particles * Introduces modern theories, including relativity, quantum mechanics, and particle physics * Describes the key role played by that elemental building block, the atom * Discusses the evolution of the universe, including the formation of stars and the mystery of dark matter and dark energy This book is not for those doing physics but is aimed at those who simply want to learn about physics, so it requires only the most minimal math. What it does require is a sense of curiosity, an appreciation of beauty, and the capacity for awe.

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About Author

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

Contents

UNITS AND POWERS OF TEN PHYSICS AND ITS METHODOLOGY What Is Physics? Methodology The First Scientist Why Do You Believe? Back to the Questions How Do We Answer the Questions? The Need to Be Quantitative Theories Models Aesthetic Judgments MOTION Relating the Variables of Motion Graphs of One-Dimensional Motion Constant Speed Constant Acceleration Two-Dimensional Motion FORCES The Fundamental Forces A Specific Force Law: Newtonian Gravity Weight How Does Force Affect Motion? Newton's Second Law Newton, the Apple, and the Moon Combining Two Laws The Mass of the Earth Newton's First Law What and Where Is the Force? Newton's Third Law How Does a Horse Pull a Wagon? How Can We Walk? ELECTROMAGNETISM The Electric Force Law Unifying Electricity and Magnetism Ampere's Law Faraday's Law The Lorentz Force Back to Ampere's Law Where Are the Moving Charges? THE FIELD CONCEPT What Is the Connection? Action at a Distance Is This a Legitimate Explanation? The Field Concept How Does This Help Explain Noncontact Forces? Thinking Like a Physicist Is There a Way to Tell the Difference? Understanding the Time Delay The Speed and Identity of the Kink Back to Contact Forces THE CHARACTER OF NATURAL LAWS Causality The Prime Directive Symmetry Symmetry and the Laws of Nature Space Translation Symmetry Time Translation Symmetry Time Reversal (Reflection) Symmetry Matter-Antimatter Symmetry (Matter Reflection) Space Reflection Symmetry (Parity) CONSERVATION LAWS Conservation of Momentum Conservation of Energy The Different Forms of Energy Conversion of Energy A Specific Example: The Roller Coaster A Nonconservation Law: The Second Law of Thermodynamics THE HISTORY OF THE ATOM The Greek Model Thomson's "Plum Pudding" Model The Rutherford Experiment The Planetary Model What Do We Do Now? The Atom Today The Electron Volt: A Useful Energy Unit THE NUCLEUS Nuclear Properties Why Neutrons? Nuclear Decays Alpha Decay Beta Decay Gamma Decay Half-Life and Carbon Dating The Full Beta Decay Story The Prediction The Experimental Results What Do We Do Now? Look Closely at the Theory Look Closely at the Experimental Results A Possible Explanation THE NATURE OF LIGHT Properties of Particles Properties of Waves Wave Vocabulary Is Light Made Up of Waves or Particles? Back to Diffraction Why the Sky Is Blue THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY Frames of Reference and Relative Speeds Galilean Relativity Maxwell and the Ether The Speed of Waves The Ether The Michelson Morley Experiment An Analogy: Boats in a River The Real Experiment The Lorentz Contraction Another Crazy Idea Assumptions We Take for Granted The Postulates of Special Relativity Some Interesting Facts about Einstein and the Birth of Relativity Consequences of the Postulates of Relativity The Relativity of Simultaneity Time Dilation The Light Clock Useful Definitions Length Contraction Length and Lorentz Contraction E = mc2 and All That Back to Addition of Speeds The Car in the Garage Paradox The Twin Paradox and Space Travel Relativity and You QUANTUM MECHANICS Max Planck and the Beginnings of Quantum Theory The Photoelectric Effect The Bohr Atom de Broglie Waves Time to Stop and Catch Our Breath The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle The Schrodinger Equation: An Equation for the Waves Does God Play Dice? THE STANDARD MODEL OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLE PHYSICS The Basic Ideas of the Standard Model The Unification of Forces Bosons: The Particles Associated with Forces Electroweak Unification The Unification of Matter Two Classes of Matter Particles Similarities Differences More about Quarks More about Leptons A Mystery Particle Flowchart COSMOLOGY The Expansion of the Universe Measuring Speeds Using the Doppler Effect Measuring Distances Nearby Stars More Distant Stars: Standard Candles Light from the Big Bang: CMB Radiation The Evolution of the Universe The Planck Time The GUT Time The Disappearance of Antimatter Two Sticky Problems and a Solution The Solution: Inflation The Electroweak Time The Formation of Particles The Formation of Nuclei The Formation of Atoms The Formation of Stars and Galaxies Dark Matter Dark Energy EPILOGUE SUGGESTED FURTHER READINGS INDEX Each chapter ends with a Guide to Key Ideas and Questions/Problems

Product Details

  • publication date: 15/12/2008
  • ISBN13: 9781420082586
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9781420082586
  • weight: 340
  • ISBN10: 1420082582

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