Scarlett Sims's Reviews > Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Physics for Future Presidents by Richard A. Muller
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Mar 16, 11

bookshelves: bn-free, leisure, nook, political, non-fic, science
Read from March 12 to 16, 2011

I read this because of my interest in the intersection between science and politics. The author does a good job breaking down several major issues (Terrorism, Nuclear Energy, Global Warming, etc) and attempting to separate fact from highly-publicized fiction.

He uses physics(well--there are some equations in the notes but I might be more inclined to say descriptions of physical properties) to explain why a future president should be worried about some things and less worried about others.

I feel I learned from this book and enjoyed what the author was trying to do, but there were a few bits that annoyed me. The first is merely a stylistic complaint. He repeatedly said things like, "when you're president, this is the kind of thing you may need to consider." I just didn't like it, although yes I do realize it is in keeping with the title of the book. I also wish he had gone a bit more into the political side of things. On only one issue did he state his actual opinion. I do see the merit in giving "just the facts" and letting the reader decide for himself, but oftentimes he didn't fully discuss the political implications of some of the issues.

I appreciated his attempt to stay away from a partisan bias. Science should be factual, not partisan.

Also I looked up this guy's website and I kinda can't believe he teaches at Berkely and got a MacArthur because it looks like the XKCD from when they shut down Geocities--no joke. Is it wrong that that weakened his credibility a bit? I mean his mentor apparently worked on the Manhattan Project, so that's cool.

Anyway I would recommend the book to people looking for a basic overview of this issues, written from as impartial a standpoint as is probably possible.
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