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A User's Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty
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A User's Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  277 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Answers to science's most enduring questions from "Can I break the light-speed barrier like on Star Trek?" and "Is there life on other planets?" to "What is empty space made of?"This is an indispensable guide to physics that offers readers an overview of the most popular physics topics written in an accessible, irreverent, and engaging manner while still maintaining a tone ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published March 8th 2010 by Wiley (first published January 1st 2009)
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Mar 18, 2013 Rajesh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Witty, engaging and lucid - not the adjectives you'd typically associate with a popular science book, but this highly readable tome makes light a fairly involved and complicated subject matter - physics. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone!
Jul 17, 2013 Evan rated it it was ok
Goldberg and Blomquist attempt to make physics more accessible with ironically bad illustrations, overwrought analogies, and broad swipes at the low-hanging fruit that is nerd "humor". The conversational prose is amateurish and more suitable for an internet post than a published work, the humor will appeal only to the younger reader, and the general layout of the book is unattractive. (With all these faults, the audience for A User's Guide to the Universe is narrow, which is unfortunate for a po ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Shireen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
I'm pacmanning my way through theoretical physics books these days as background reading for my next novel. I think if you want to learn complicated concepts, talking to different people or reading different books on the same subject means you get a three-dimensional explanation rather than a one, which means you're more likely to "get it." After reeading Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design, this book seemed rather long. Relatively speaking, for it wasn't wordy, and ...more
Eva Thieme
Aug 24, 2015 Eva Thieme rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book tremendously. I can't say that I learned all that much about physics from it, because now, about 6 months after I finished reading it, I can't recall much of what it actually taught me. But I do remember being thoroughly entertained while having the illusion that I learned something, and that's really all I ever ask from a book. It discussed a bunch of mind-boggling questions about physics, touching on such crazy notions as whether time travel is actually possible while being ...more
Mar 12, 2010 Reed rated it liked it
Probably like many readers of this book, I first began reading about physics with Stephen Hawking's massively popular tome on the subject--a book that I enjoyed but at times was over my head.

When I heard about a more "user friendly" book I was eager to give it a try. A User's Guide to the Universe is quite accessible, and covers many of the same topics as Hawking's much-more-dense writing. Oddly enough, I found myself not always enjoying this accessibility. The book is loaded with popular refere
Apr 25, 2014 Sunny rated it it was amazing
A user's guide is an easily readable book that can be consumed more than once. It appeals to a wider audience, younger people that are not necessarily familiar with science and as a young high school student I recommend it to my friends and peers as it is quite interesting. The more times you read it, the more knowledge is gained. I also enjoyed the comical puns and found the concepts easier to understand! Other books I have read on the universe and physics seemed to burn my brain out. All in al ...more
Kenneth Crader
Jun 30, 2015 Kenneth Crader rated it it was amazing
To me, in all honesty, this book was cute but made very good points in the terms of theoretical and common physics. By using basic analogies and simple illustrations, "A user's guide to the universe" makes physics seem like a walk in the park to the reader. If I was given the chance to read this book again, I would 10 times over. This book was great and I think I may read it again.
Apr 06, 2014 Roxanne rated it it was amazing
This is a clever, smart, and humorous treatment of the biggest of Big Topics. Even though it's very basic, as quantum theory goes, I may need something pre-remedial. Still, I got more than I expected to from this book.
Ryan Case
Apr 19, 2010 Ryan Case rated it it was amazing
Easy to read and amusing. Good reminder of things I once knew, forgot, and will no doubt forget again.
Artem Gordon
Oct 11, 2013 Artem Gordon rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars. Def a recommendation for anybody interested in cosmology and physics. The author is funny and the chapters are NOT dry. You really get to remember some stuff.
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
Nov 13, 2016 Charlene Lewis- Estornell rated it liked it
Shelves: physics
Even though the humor in this book was not to my liking (too juvenile), it provided an elementary explanation of the physics that govern our universe. This book's intended audience is the curious reader who has not taken any physics courses or read any physics books. It focuses more on the grand concepts in physics (relativity, quantum, QED, dark matter) than the physics of every day.
Jun 10, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
“A User’s Guide to the Universe: Surviving the Perils of Black Holes, Time Paradoxes, and Quantum Uncertainty” walks the curious lay reader through the intricacies of physics as it applies to many different situations, some realistic and some completely theoretical and “out there.” [return][return]I was extremely excited to receive this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers; it was on my Wish List and I had planned to purchase it for my birthday, but was lucky enough to snag it ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Roxanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, reference
This is a really fun book. It's a book about science! Dave Goldberg (a physicist) and Jeff Blomquist (an engineer with a master's in physics) are used to hearing strange questions when people at parties find out what they do for a living--so much so that they wrote this book to answer them. What happens if you fall into a black hole? Can we build a transporter like on Star Trek? If the universe is expanding, what's it expanding into? Is time travel possible? Goldberg and Blomquist tackle these a ...more
Jul 01, 2014 Vasha7 rated it it was ok
Anyone who's been paying attention to online discussions about science and science fiction will have heard there is such a thing as geek culture, and that geek culture is extremely hostile to women. Sadly this book is a good case in point. The authors proudly paint themselves, and their readers, as stereotypical geeks who have no social skills, never get dates, and are always pushed into lockers by the bigger boys in high school; in fact they have a bewildering preoccupation with high school giv ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Nilesh rated it really liked it
Definitely a book worth reading - not just for the beginners but even those who have read many other popular science books on the subjects covered here or possibly even for the experts. To start with, the book is genuinely funny. Intelligently and stupidly witty. At first, the jokes appear out of place and contrived but they begin to grow. The genuine laughter that many of them evoke even in the middle of discussions on obtuse topics make arguments more cogent and easier to follow. Scientific te ...more
Mar 13, 2010 kwisatzdan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those who are curious and bad at math.
I won this book from the Goodreads contest.

All we know about the universe is explained via cute cartoons, silly analogies, and the simplest language possible. This book is great for anyone who is bad at math, but still curious about black holes, time travel, the speed of light, the big bang, string theory, and other bits of physics. Unfortunately, some concepts don't simplify as well as others. Despite the authors' best efforts, some parts of the book will leave you scratching your head. Don't l
Nick Gotch
Sep 10, 2010 Nick Gotch rated it really liked it
User's Guide is an enjoyable & approachable layman's guide to the fun, fascinating world of physics. The authors use humor & analogy to convey complicated ideas and explain them in fairly straightforward terms. Also the book covers a pretty wide range of modern-day physics topics and gives some history on the subjects to give them some depth.

That all said, the book does get into some thorough detail in a lot of areas and while this is great for anyone looking to get a real understanding
Jul 05, 2011 Bob rated it really liked it
Perhaps the most amusing of the many attempts to simply the vast abstractions of modern physics. The authors do a remarkably good job of it, but as others have noted there are simply some ideas that are too difficult to articulate outside the toolsets of mathematics. Goldberg gives it a good go, though, and I believe this is a book that probably needs to be read twice to have any hope of absorbing the well-rendered descriptions of ideas that have degrees of abstraction well beyond what the vast ...more
Mar 06, 2010 Denise rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book nearly as much as I thought I would and I am really sorry to say this about a give-away book. The book is a beautiful hardback book with many humerous, cartoon-like illustrations. Maybe I'm just a science/astronomy illiterate but I found the text more complex than the book indicates it will be. It also isn't particularly a book that you would want to sit down and read straight through for enjoyment. It will go on my shelf more as a reference book when my grandson might ne ...more
Dave Lorimer
Jun 25, 2012 Dave Lorimer rated it really liked it
This is a good first book for someone interested in a broad-stroke laymen overview of the world of physics. The humor that's peppered throughout the book is admittedly cheesy, but as a fan of cheese I loved it.

As it does cover a lot in brief so it's a good spring board to see what areas of physics you might be interested in for further reading, if that's your cup of tea. To aid in that, the book has some great reading recommendations in the back (separated into laymen and technical) which I like
Tony Heyl
Dec 28, 2012 Tony Heyl rated it really liked it
The best thing I can say about this book, as with most any nonfiction, is that I learned something. There is more than that though.

Often in nonfiction, there is a bit of showing off where the authors seem smug at knowing everything. Not here. That's what makes science great: the possibility of being wrong.

The User's guide also shows how science can be fun. The jokes are sometimes lame (sorry Dave), but it was an enjoyable, informative guide to the universe, or at least the parts of the univers
Jan 20, 2011 Collin rated it liked it
The type of person interested in reading this book is also the same type of person who is likely to already know, or at least already have heard, most of what it contains. I myself am both of those types, as it happens, and I find that I'm not enjoying it as much as I expected. Little to none of the information so far is new to me, yet occasionally I still have difficulty following the explanations. It sometimes takes me a couple of re-readings to decide if the book has a typo or if my brain doe ...more
Noah Stacy
Sep 27, 2010 Noah Stacy rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, science
Not bad. The attempts at humor were a bit precious, generally falling flat and serving as little more than a slightly irritating distraction from the meat of the discussion, as they were often footnoted. Still, I suppose you do what you must to sell it to general audiences.

That said, still a good accessible pop physics book, as easy to understand as this stuff ever is, and covers a broad swath of the interesting, weird bits that make physics fun.
Meir Shani
It's a little less rigorus than other books of its ilk that I read before. On the other hand, it does tackle things that those books did not - I finally got a notion (no doubt, hopelessly naive) of what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are, and what the ubiquitous phrase "the Higgs boson endows particles with their mass" actually means. So yes, I definitely was rewarded by (as well as enjoyed) reading it.

Mar 01, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Won this book ages ago from First Reads and am just now typing a small review. I found this book interesting to read and sort of wish I had had it when I was taking my physics class in school. I remember reading parts and wondering why the teacher couldn't have explained it that way.

Certain things were still a bit difficult for me to grasp. I'm not sure if that's just my own understanding or the way things were explained.
Oct 31, 2013 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Informative, charming, and occasionally chuckle-worthy. That's probably the easiest way to explain this title. I enjoyed reading it and, while I wouldn't call it quite as charming as a Neil Degrasse Tyson book, it was a fun read. The science is also explained in a way that makes everything fairly easy to understand while sounding a bit like an entertaining school lecture.
Birdie Rutterta
Jan 20, 2013 Birdie Rutterta rated it really liked it
It's smartly written, witty, and informative! It perfectly conveys the excitement of (relatively) new physics in a way that everyone can understand. However, it leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to explaining theories with no math. I think they could have added in a few equations to the mix and not have lost any of the book's readability and relatability.
Jun 06, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the conversational tone of this book. It spoke of some pretty heady concepts, but they were laid out in a way that even without a scientific background they were accessible. The diagrams were silly, but were still informative.
Jan 18, 2013 Katrine rated it liked it
Not terribly well-suited to the audiobook format, unlike other popular science books I've read that way. Hampered by an incredibly annoying narrator. The content was great, but I just couldn't enjoy it as much. A struggle to get through.
Aug 14, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
Not a joke book. Real physics told in plain English with lots of jokes. Some pretty corny, but it makes it lighter. I'm not new to the subjects but a bit out of date. It made a good survey catching up.
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