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We Need to Talk About Kelvin: What everyday things tell us about the universe
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We Need to Talk About Kelvin: What everyday things tell us about the universe

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  329 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Look around you. The reflection of your face in a window tells you that the universe is orchestrated by chance. The iron in a spot of blood on your finger tells you that somewhere out in space there is furnace at a temperature of 4.5 billion degrees. Your TV tells you that the universe had a beginning. In fact, your very existence tells you that this may not be the only un ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 15th 2009 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 20, 2010 Merrilee rated it it was amazing
I started reading "Kelvin" halfway through January, and it feels like it's taken me almost that long to compose this review. The problem is that I want to rave, and I'm having to restrain my enthusiasm so I can compose some intelligent arguments as to why you should read this book.

So let me get the raving out of the way first. I really enjoyed this book. I expected to be educated and enlightened, but I never expected to be entertained as well. I laughed more than once, and enjoyed sharing quotes
Courtney Johnston
Sep 16, 2010 Courtney Johnston rated it did not like it
It turns out that you can have too many analogies in a pop science book.

Chown sets out to explain the sheer lunacy - the total irrationality - of the quantum world by making comparisons to everyday lives and things. A mass of billions and billions and billions of bananas or microwave ovens would emit as much heat as the sun - because it's the mass, not the substance, that's of crucial importance. Light is both a photon and a wave: "Imagine you are standing by a fire hydrant in New York's Times S
Jul 14, 2011 Ariki rated it it was ok
I'm a little out of my element with quantum physics, and found the examples hard to follow at times...Nevertheless I did experience a few eureka moments along the way and i certainly have an increasing appreciation of how incredible our existence truly is.

I found some of the descriptions of quantum behavior a bit hard to comprehend and yet after a couple of you tube searches on topics such as "wave particle duality", the clever cgi animations had me grasping the ungraspable. On reflection, I can
Tim Coyne
Mar 20, 2017 Tim Coyne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good book on physics. What i found most interesting was how it tied atomic and sun-atomic physics to chemistry and biology which is something i have previously not given much thought to. I feel that Chown attempted to present the book with a certain spin on it: being his sub-title of "What everyday things tell us about the universe". he certainly managed to tell us about the universe and covered most of the major theories and hypotheses but i felt he didn't explain the relationship wit ...more
Jim Mccartney
Interesting Read

Quite enjoyed the book but a couple of discussions I found less than convincing. I was a little surprised that about thirty percent of the book was notes and glossary.
Arnost Stedry
Jun 12, 2012 Arnost Stedry rated it really liked it
Pokud bych měl shrnout obsah Chownovy knihy do jednoho citátu, byl by to tento:

"Odraz vaší tváře v okně sděluje šokující objev v historii vědy: a sice, že svět na jeho nejhlubší úrovni řídí náhody; že věci se nakonec dějí zcela bez důvodu. "

Jak vidno, autor se snaží najít zcela běžné jevy a vystopovat jejich původce až k počátkům vesmíru. A to míním doslova. Přitom se mu daří být zábavný a poučný v duchu nejlepších tradic popularizačních knih Richarda Feynmana. Jeho výklady jsou často překvapivé
Bharath Ramakrishnan
Sep 14, 2014 Bharath Ramakrishnan rated it really liked it
“We Need To Talk About Kelvin” has a unique storytelling approach to covering some of the deepest concepts of the universe. It starts with an everyday observation - taking it to its logical conclusion with step by step reasoning.

A very good example is the view from the window out into the street during the night. You can see into the lighted shop opposite the window; and you can also see your own reflection partially in the window. This leads to the discussion of the quantum theory of light. Th
Kerem Cankocak
Mar 25, 2016 Kerem Cankocak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Atomların dansı', M. Chown' un en kapsamlı kitaplarından biridir. Sonsuz küçükten sonsuz büyüğe, evrendeki hemen her olguyu mercek altına yatıran bu kitap, her bölümde gündelik bir gözlemden yola çıkarak, bu gözlemin nihai gerçekliğiyle ilgili daha derin bir konuya dikkat çekiyor.

''Bu kitabın amacı basittir: Dünyanın aşina olduğumuz özelliklerini ele alarak, onların nasıl olup da bize gerçekliğin temel doğası ile ilgili derin gerçekleri anlattıklarını bilim alanındaki mevcut bilgilerimizin ışığ
Jo Watson
Aug 30, 2014 Jo Watson rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book, but I didn't. I can't really put my finger on it, but the balance between facts, hard science and analogies were off. His analogies at times were very confusing and hard to follow. But maybe I am comparing him to 'the big 3' Greene, Susskind and Kaku. His previous book "Quantum theory cannot hurt you" was a much better read. Perhaps it is the actual device used in the book that I did not enjoy, the taking of everyday 'things. and using them to explain bigger concepts. ...more
Henna Achhpal
Feb 13, 2012 Henna Achhpal rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I was under the impression that this book would be like Bill Bryson's Nearly A Short History Of Everything and honestly I was really looking forward to gaining snippets of interesting information however I couldn't get past the first ten pages itself. I was expecting it to be about stuff related to physics but written in a way to allow the lay person to understand however it isn't like that. Must say I was disappointed.
Feb 18, 2013 Martin rated it it was amazing
An amazing Sunday afternoon read, well-written, entertaining and all around interesting book that takes the discoveries of physics and astronomy throughout history and brings them closer to the layman understanding by taking everyday stuff from our lives and forming the explanations from them. Definitely a good read, I'd recommend it.
Jun 05, 2013 Roddy rated it it was amazing
I've been meaning to read something by Chown for some time after hearing a recommendation from "Dr Karl" on the "Naked Scientist" podcasts. As they say...I wasn't disappointed! Explanations of current cosmology and quantum science pitched at just the right level for high school/undergraduate folks with an interest in science.
Oct 04, 2013 Retrovold rated it it was ok
Well. I don't really have much to say, clearly this book was not ment for me. It happens to you with movies too but then you say "yeah it's not really my genre" but this was topic of my interest, therefore no comfort of three stars.

Even though it may be popular-sciency way of describing interesting of the universe the way it was described did not even slightly cought me in.
Dec 24, 2013 Jemma rated it liked it
A good pop science book, well worth reading. However not quite as engaging as many such books and a bit heavy in places. This does have the benefit though of rephrasing some familiar subjects in clearer ways and raising new and interesting aspects that you may not have read about elsewhere. There's a pretty good glossary too, one that's actually worth reading.
Mawa Mahima
We Need to Talk About Kelvin, not Kevin, KELVIN!

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

All in all, it was a beautiful learning curve and even though Chown only explained three concepts, it just really came together as a book and as a science beauty.
Noushin Afrashteh
Sep 08, 2011 Noushin Afrashteh rated it liked it
If atoms, stars and astrophysics isn't your cup of tea then this book will not make you change your mind. I picked it because i had heard great reviews about it and was hoping it can make me understand the excitement world of stars and atoms. Didn't work; in fact, if anything, now I now why i'm interested in the subject; it all so subjective.
Apr 15, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easy to read although I had to make a second pass at some of the chapters. The style of writing is engaging but the book could really do with some illustrations as I found myself completely bewildered at certain points and had to read and re-read paragraphs over and over before I could make sense of what was being described.
Richard Mullahy
Oct 25, 2014 Richard Mullahy rated it liked it
Very enjoyable read, although for some of the quantum theory all I can say is that if this is accessible what the hell are the regular books like. My admiration for the theoretical physicists, mathematicians and other that populate this book has only increased from its reading.
Dec 02, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, Marcus Chown is very good at delivering popular science. In this tome, he takes the simplest of starting points and explains how they hint at the deepest mysteries of the universe. Some of the quantum mechanics gets a bit deep but it still makes for a good read.
Nov 03, 2010 Steve marked it as to-read
Review of this book in the 20 October 2010 issue of The Independent, London, in an article entitled "Endangered: The Science Book Prize."
Aug 07, 2010 Rose added it
Shelves: 2010, science
Before I read this book, I was confused about this subject. Having read it, I am still confused. But on a higher level.

(Apologies to Fermi)
Feb 19, 2011 Sho rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I'll come back with a review when my brain has stopped hurting!
Emily Gonzalez
Nov 30, 2014 Emily Gonzalez rated it liked it
I really, really wanted to love this book.
Helen Callaghan
Nov 24, 2009 Helen Callaghan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: popular-science
Advanced scientific and quantum concepts explained beautifully. Really enjoyed it and found it very helpful.
Lingliang Zhang
Sep 27, 2013 Lingliang Zhang rated it it was amazing
Insightful look into how much simple science that we take for granted really tells us about the nature of reality.
Ross rated it liked it
May 01, 2013
Christy rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2013
Natalie Hughes
Natalie Hughes rated it liked it
Jan 12, 2013
Jul 05, 2012 Valentina rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!
Snoopzatlordogg rated it liked it
Jun 24, 2016
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Marcus Chown is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. Formerly a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he is currently cosmology consultant of the weekly science magazine New Scientist. He is the author of the bestselling Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You, The Never Ending Days of Being Dead and The Magic Furnace. He also wrote The Solar System, the bestselling ap ...more
More about Marcus Chown...

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