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The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck: What Everyday Things Tell Us About the Universe

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  70 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Look around you. The reflection of your face in a window tells you about the most shocking discovery in the history of science: that at its deepest level the world is orchestrated by chance; that ultimately, things happen for no reason at all. The iron in a spot of blood on your finger shows you that somewhere out in space there is a furnace at a temperature of 4.5 billion ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Dale
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nonfiction
Review of The Matchbox that Ate a 40 Ton Truck by Marcus Chown

This is a popular science book, showing how everyday observations are linked to insights into the fundamental structure of nature. Sometimes the connection between the observable world and the underlying physics is a bit of a stretch, but it makes for enjoyable and fascinating reading.

The title of the book comes from the phenomenon of photons scattered by electrons. It is as if an ocean wave were scattered by a pebble on the beach. Ch
...more
Lee
Jun 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a pretty big pop. physics/astronomy nut, and was eager to have new ways to relate various difficult concepts with the everyday world. However, this book in some ways let me down. First, I was expecting it to cover a wider array of topics, but found it to be a bit narrow in scope. Second, I found some portions of the writing a bit repetitive and nonessential which in turn made the reading in places quite tedious. Third, about half of the "everyday occurrences" seemed to be stretches and serve ...more
D.J.
Gave up on page 55 - while this is billed as an easy explanation of scientific concepts, I quickly got bogged down. I'll save the book for a later time, but at the moment I just can't get through it.
Noah
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an explainer, this book mostly failed for me. All it really did was reinforce how profoundly strange and mindbending a lot of the scientific insights of the 20th century are. I'm starting to accept that I'll never REALLY understand the double-slit experiment.
Jennifer
This was rather entertainingly written but I am certainly not the target demographic. I like to emerge from a book feeling like I learned something, whereas after reading this one I can quite confidently say that I learned nothing. The science was just a little too basic.
Kate
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Explanation of quantum physics. interesting, need someone to talk about it with.
Amrie
Apr 16, 2014 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition


but in a good way and also the kind that doesn't give people hangovers
Jennifer Kunz
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the only book I've ever read that explained quantum theory in a way that actually made sense! I loved the book and would recommend.
Chris
Oct 19, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
recommended by Maggie from boingboing.net in the NYT at http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/201...
Diane Henry
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on


Still looking for the perfect book to explain quantum physics. Oddly, I loved the glossary.
Taja
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book. Chown does a wonderful job of explaining physics to the layman in an interesting way.
Jesse Richman
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not at all the light reading I was expecting, but does a great job of explaining quantum mechanics and such.
Brendan  McAuliffe
These are okay, just not very helpful to me ( might be to someone else )
Nicole
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quantum theory and spacetime make my head hurt. In another life I could have been a scientist. This stuff is fascinating. Most of it is make-believe.
Magic Mary Austin
I couldnt get past page 40 or so. Too technical for me. Im one who wants to know how to drive a car without learning how an internal combustion engine works.
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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
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