Black Bodies and Quantum Cats

Tales from the Annals of Physics

Jennifer Ouellette - Author

Alan Chodos - Foreword by

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ISBN 9781101221402 | 336 pages | 01 Dec 2005 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP
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Physics, once known as “natural philosophy,” is the most basic science, explaining the world we live in, from the largest scale down to the very, very, very smallest, and our understanding of it has changed over many centuries. In Black Bodies and Quantum Cats, science writer Jennifer Ouellette traces key developments in the field, setting descriptions of the fundamentals of physics in their historical context as well as against a broad cultural backdrop. Newton’s laws are illustrated via the film Addams Family Values, while Back to the Future demonstrates the finer points of special relativity. Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” serves to illuminate the mysterious nature of neutrinos, and Jeanette Winterson’s novel Gut Symmetries provides an elegant metaphorical framework for string theory.

An enchanting and edifying read, Black Bodies and Quantum Cats shows that physics is not an arcane field of study but a profoundly human endeavor—and a fundamental part of our everyday world.

Black Bodies and Quantum Cats Foreword by Alan Chodos, PhD

1. Renaissance Man
1509: Publication of De Divina Proportione

2. Talkin' 'bout a Revolution
August 1542: Publication of De Revolutionibus

3. Lens Crafters
Circa 1590: Invention of the Microscope

4. Good Heavens
January 7, 1610: Galileo Discovers Moons of Jupiter

5. Gravity's Guru
July 1687: Publication of Newton's Principia

6. Drawing Down the Fire
June 1752: Franklin's Kite Experiment

7. Trompe I'Oeil
1807: Invention of the Camera Lucida

8. Rules of Attraction
1820: First Evidence of Electromagnetism

9. Ingenious Engines
Circa 1840s: Babbage's Analytical Engine

10. Emperors of the Air
September 24, 1852: First Dirigible Takes Flight

11. Disorderly Conduct
June 1871: Maxwell and His Demon

12. Queens of Science
November 1872: Death of Mary Somerville

13. Calling Mister Watson

March 10, 1876: First Documented Transmission of human Speech

14. Thrill Seekers
1884: First U.S. Roller Coaster Opens at Coney Island

15. Current Affairs
May 1888: Tesla and Electric Power Generation

16. Shadow Casters
February 2, 1893: Edison Films a Sneeze

17. Radio Days
1895: Tesla Demonstrates Wireless Radio

18. Mysterious Ways
November 8, 1895: Roentgen DIscovers X Rays

19. A Thousand Points of Light
October 1897: Discovery of the Electron

20. Quantum Leap
October 1900: Planck Introduces Quanta

21. It's All Relative
June 1905: Einstein Introduces Special Relativity

22. Rocket Man
March 16, 1926: Launch of the First Liquid Feuled Rocket

23. That Darn Cat
1935: Schrodinger's Paradoxical Cat

24. Copy Threat
October 1938: First Xerographic Copy Made

25. Life during Wartime
July 1945: The Trinity Test

26. Gimme Shelter
June 2-4, 1947: The Shelter Island Conference

27. Tiny Bubbles
1948: Reddi-wip Appears on the Market

28. Mimicking Mother Nature
May 13, 1958: Velcro Trademark Registered

29. Energize Me
December 1958: Invention of the Laser

30. Small World
December 29, 1959: Feynman's Classic Caltech Lecture

31. Contemplating Chaos
Circa January 1961: Lorenz and the Butterfly Effect

32. Kamikaze Cosmos
July 1963: Discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

33. When Particles Collide
April 1994: Discovery of the Top Quark

34. Checkmate
May 1997: Deep Blue Defeats Kasarov

35. Much Ado about Nothing
December 1998: Discovery of the Accelerating Universe

36. The Case of the Missing Neutrinos
February 2001: Solution to Solar Neutrino Problem

37. Icarus Descending
September 2002: Schoen Found Guilty of Scientific Misconduct

38. Sting Section
October 2003: Nova Special on Sting Theory


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