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Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  360 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
“Assume the cow is a sphere.” So begins this lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples, Fear of Physics nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is es ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 9th 1994 by Basic Books (first published October 5th 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,178)
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Jun 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"To be scientifically illiterate is to remain essentially uncultured. And the chief virtue of a cultural activity--be it art, music, literature, or science--is the way it enriches our lives."
― Lawrence M. Krauss, Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed


One of my great loves is reading about physics and science. Richard Feynman, Niels Bohr, Newton, Einstein, etc., are my lower-case "g" gods. While my math and science background is just enough to get me in trouble, it is also enough to keep me c
Feb 03, 2015 Gendou rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, physics
There are a few gems in this book. Krauss dedicates some time to explaining how scientists (physicists in particular) think. He scratches the surface of why this is successful (and even talks about when it hasn't been as successful).

But the title of the book is misleading. This book is mostly anecdote. If you want to be told a bunch of random physics facts, read this book. If you're actually weary of physics, and feel it's beyond your grasp, and best left to the experts, don't read this book. Ye
Nacho Montesinos
Jan 06, 2014 Nacho Montesinos rated it liked it
Después de leer a Brief History of Time de Hawking este libro me resultó mucho más complejo de leer, la manera en que Hawking describe fenómenos y teorías físicas es mucho más fácil de entender que las explicaciones de Lawrence. Sin embargo este libro va más allá y describe fenómenos con mayor detalle y deja vislumbrar lo complejo de la física moderna. En muchas ocasiones tuve que reeler párrafos enteros y en otras hasta buscar términos y conceptos en wikipedia (donde por cierto se explican con ...more
Jul 12, 2007 Ian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If the whole point of your book is to explain the complexities of physics to the layman, I would suggest NOT using equations TWO pages into the book (I didn't venture past page two). The problem with physics is that the only people that can understand it are the very same people that are completely unable to translate it into forms that the masses can understand.

Dear Nerds,

Thank you for space ships and solar power and mass transit, but do you have to be so NERDY all the time?

Jul 02, 2014 Christian rated it it was amazing
I strongly recommend this book for those who at least have an elementary understanding of physics. If so, this gem will guide you to the next level. Especially recommended for students who've taken Physics in high school and are looking to obtain a BS in Physics this is a great summer read before your freshman year of college. A+++
Feb 22, 2011 Rachael rated it it was amazing
Krauss, a physicist, sets out for the non scientist what it means to do physics. He starts by talking about how physics is essentially a creative act figuring out how to discard as much unessential information as possibly. That launches him into a discussion about some of the basic ideas behind modern physics in relativity and quantum mechanics, and ends with an interesting relfection on what it means for a physics theory to be true. Some theories work on different scales, can there be a theory ...more
Sebastian Perez Saaibi
Jan 28, 2016 Sebastian Perez Saaibi rated it it was amazing
Just when I thought I had forgotten all my Physics underground education, this book comes as a refresher to prove the contrary.

Physical intuition (and the acquired ability to perform order of magnitude estimates and back-of-the napkin calculations) is more relevant now than ever, as we enter the understanding of complex socio-economic systems.

Fantastic book by Lawrence Krauss; I almost wish this book had a live update (to include the Higgs Boson discovery and other more recent developments). Wha
Daniel Gonçalves
This book is the reason why I love mr.Krauss, one of the best, most engaging and brilliant science educators. A must read for everyone.
Jonathan Gnagy
Apr 30, 2015 Jonathan Gnagy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, physics
This book was a fantastic read. I am sure that some topics might be a bit more difficult to follow for someone completely new to the subjects, but I found the book very interesting. Krauss did a phenomenal job bringing difficult to understand scientific topics and comparing them to everyday things that make visualizing them much easier. Anyone that has a... fear of physics... (or even those with a non-scientist's understanding like me) should read this book. You'll come out thinking a lot more l ...more
Jul 06, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: curious people
I never took a physics course. I don't know if my comfort with mathematics helped with this book, but it certainly didn't hurt. That said, this was a general introduction to early theories in physics as well as an explanation of the implications of recent experiments on our understanding of the univers. The book also examines how early explanations laid the groundwork for later predictions and theories. In some cases, it describes how early predictions were validated (or invalidated) as the equi ...more
Max Skidmore
Apr 22, 2016 Max Skidmore rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book in spite of being kicked in the teeth regarding how much I don't know about modern Physics. I majored in Physics and thought I had a pretty good foundation. Needless to say, things have changed since then and they continue to change at a rapid pace. That said, I loved getting an introduction to some of the new advances. I give it three stars because of my own disconnectedness. The author is great, it's the reader here.
Drew Lackovic
Mar 19, 2015 Drew Lackovic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd have read this in High School. I loved physics in high school but couldn't ever quite figure out how to connect the formulas with the action; this book bridged that gap for me.
Haya Dodokh
Jan 03, 2016 Haya Dodokh rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Lawrence M. Krauss Physics started to excites me because apparently there's always something new to learn.
Read It
Oct 08, 2014 Read It rated it did not like it
I Had a hard time reading this book for some reason. I have read Dr. Krauss research papers and magazine articles and other books, all well written. However this book was somewhat hard to grasp. either way, do not give up on Dr. Krauss, he is one of the best of the best but this book was his not his best.
Jan 16, 2015 Stephanie rated it liked it
Damn. I still don't get it. I'll keep trying though.

How do I fit my 12 foot car in my 9 foot garage?
Apr 10, 2016 Russ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. I just finished and don't really remember much except that clocks run at a different speed in the basement than in the penthouse.
Aug 13, 2014 Kenneth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: astronomy
Heady, but not too heady with a chuckle thrown in here and there...
May 04, 2011 Nikki rated it it was ok
I'm afraid that after muddling through this book I still have a fear of physics. I appreciated his "a cow is a circle" explanation, and I appreciated the math section. But, honestly, the last chapter dealing with conservation and symmetry I did not get at all. I'm sure I would get a lot more out of this book if I read it again, but at this point, I'm unwilling. I guess I assumed by the title that it would be more remedial than it was.
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
There is nothing wrong with this book - it is fascinating in fact. It's just that my mind is not made for Physics! Somewhere out there someone explains this stuff in a way I can relate to. Will keep looking.
Jun 15, 2014 Michelle rated it liked it
Uncle Lawrence tells all the stories he was told as he "grew up" in physics. While I can see how the author arranged the book according to what is, to him, a fully coherent and structured narrative, it comes across as disjointed and random. The individual stories, to the novice in high-energy theoretical physics, have no relation to each other, and seem to be tossed in as the author remembered them.
May 08, 2012 Jerad rated it liked it
I thought this book was something totally not about physics actually.

I seem to have mislead myself and was surprised it was less about philosophy. I cannot rate it 0 due to my own cunt rage in getting the book without knowing what it was.

I am not a physics person. I don't have time for physics. Nope.
Jul 01, 2016 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I'd hoped for and much less engaging than I'd expected, though bit throughout resonated with me.
Sep 04, 2009 Doug rated it it was ok
Not particularly well-written from a lucidity standpoint, not a clear explanation of some concepts and downright confusing in others. Needed to re-red passages often to have it sink in....
Oct 18, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
I feel a little better about my relationship with physics now than I did before reading this book. I still don't get it as well as I'd like, but at least I learned some new words.
May 03, 2015 Lou rated it did not like it
When an author says he is closing a chapter with something, then proceeds to write 8 pages - that is NOT closing the chapter. VERY long winded. Not horrible if you skim.
May 28, 2011 Grant rated it it was amazing
One of the first that introduced me to a variety of subjects that I wanted to learn even more about.
Mar 07, 2008 Ace added it
So far I am intrigued...we shall see what happens...will I end up fearing physics?? Will I???
Jul 06, 2009 Cory rated it liked it
Even physics majors can find some of this enlightening.
Tapani Aulu
Nerokasta ja selkeää fysiikkaa.
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Prof. Lawrence M. Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, where his studies include the early universe, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics. He has investigated questions ranging from the nature of exploding stars to issues of the origin of a ...more
More about Lawrence M. Krauss...

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“A physicist, an engineer and a psychologist are called in as consultants to a dairy farm whose production has been below par. Each is given time to inspect the details of the operation before making a report.
The first to be called is the engineer, who states: "The size of the stalls for the cattle should be decreased. Efficiency could be improved if the cows were more closely packed, with a net allotment of 275 cubic feet per cow. Also, the diameter of the milking tubes should be increased by 4 percent to allow for a greater average flow rate during the milking periods."
The next to report is the psychologist, who proposes:
"The inside of the barn should be painted green. This is a more mellow color than brown and should help induce greater milk flow. Also, more trees should be planted in the fields to add diversity to the scenery for the cattle during grazing, to reduce boredom."
Finally, the physicist is called upon. He asks for a blackboard and then draws a circle. He begins: "Assume the cow is a sphere....”
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