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Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In Spectrums, David Blatner blends narrative and illustration to illuminate the variety of spectrums that affect our lives every day: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. There is actually very little in this universe that we can feel, touch, see, hear, or possibly even comprehend. It's not an easy task to stretch the mind to encompass both billions of years and ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Walker Books (first published October 2nd 2012)
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Peter Mcloughlin
We are residents according to Richard Dawkins of "middle world". We understand middling numbers, sizes, forces, physics. This book takes us out of our mediocre realm and stretches the mind to understand the large and small in number, size, electromagnetic spectrum, Sound, and time. Gets into some fantastical realms and inspires a sense of awe and comes up with a concept or two I have not heard in other places. Definitely worth the price of admission.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity by David Blatner

"Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity" is a wonderful, educational book that provides a scale across six spectrums representative of our everyday experience: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Author David Blatner takes the reader on an exploration of the universe, from the smallest to the incomprehensively large. This 192-page book is composed of the following six
Greg Nigh
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
If every atom that makes up the book Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity were expanded to the size of a golf ball, it would take 23 years moving at the speed of light to travel from the upper left to the bottom right corner of the open book.

OK, I just made that up, but that's the gist of the book. Each chapter explores the extremes in the measurement of some particular quality: size, light, sound, heat and time. Blatner does an excellent job of translating the
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Which is greater? The number of stars in the known universe or the grains of sand on the earth? The stars, by a lot, David Blatner tells us, though he adds that the number of stars is about how many molecules you'd find in just ten drops of water.

I came across Blatner's Spectrums while trying to answer the age old sand vs. stars question so I decided to read on, and I was not disappointed. Blatner describes spectrums in six areas--numbers, size. light, sound, heat, and time. He compares small
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: math-physics
"What really bothers physicists is that when you lay out all the equations that appear to describe our universe, none of them specifies a 'now' or even that there is a future distinct from the past. For a physicist, time does not pass or flow or fly. it just is! past, present and future are all one thing, like a finished timescape on a canvas."

"People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." (Albert
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
In some ways this book was beyond my scientific knowledge. However, I enjoyed how the author brought comlex math and science calculations to a more basic level. He did a great job of explaining distance, speed, etc. in relative terms the average person can comprehend. Some of the comparisons were still mind boggling, especially when you think of the size of the universe.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Hard scientific facts dressed up in down-to-earth language and relatable examples. Very thought-provoking and highly readable. You begin to reexamine your systems of comparison after you read this book -- Which one is of a larger size? Large in a spatial sense or temporal sense? How can you be sure? Common people's perceptions of numbers experience a leap into indifference once the number becomes immeasurably big, yet we never really have a visual sense of how gigantic things are on an ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The content of this book was thought provoking and yet, not overly technical. There were a number of concepts in this piece that I was already familiar with, but David really opened my eyes, mostly to the world of the very small. While the colossal size of space can make you feel insignificant, the complexity of existence down to the Planck make you question your daily human experiences of reality. I loved how David would take a paragraph or two to put a new idea into perspective of the human ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This isn't something I would normally have picked up; it was recommended to me by a teen. He was at such a loss to explain it, but so obviously engaged with the ideas, I had to give it a try. And I'm grateful for the recommendation. "Spectrums" is definitely worth reading!

Blatner has a gift for comparisons that make abstract and unimaginable scientific concepts and definitions graspable for the average person. He tackles six spectrums: numbers, size, light, sound, heat and time. My favorite was
Bill Streever
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Spectrums is really about scaling. What do I mean by that? I mean it is a book that helps readers gain a perspective when it comes to comparing the size of an atom to the size of the sun to the size of the galaxy. Or the wealth of the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to the wealth of the millionaire next door to the wealth of someone barely scraping by. Or the sound of silence to the sound or a rocket launch. Or the temperature of deep space to ... well, you get it. Blatner presents ...more
Shae McDaniel
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and easy to follow, but my mind has been expanded enough for one day, thank you. I'm going to go lie down now.

- Space is REALLY BIG and we're all going to die.
- We as humans are never going to be able to make it out of this solar system. It's ridiculously big.
- Magenta is an imaginary color.
- Tiny things are REALLY REALLY TINY.
- Scientists do things that scare me.
- Time is messed up.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Imagine being a neutrino that, while traveling through even the most dense rock, is in wonder at the vast spaces within and between atoms, like a spaceship traveling between the planets and the stars."
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Absolutely mind bogglingly amazing!
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Book readings in Seattle in November 1 1 Nov 15, 2012 08:57AM  

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David Blatner is the author of 15 books, translated into 14 languages with over a half-million copies in print, including Spectrums, The Joy of Pi, and The Flying Book. As an expert on digital publishing, he has lectured in five continents over the past two decades. He and his wife and two sons live, explore, and write outside Seattle, Washington.
“Place the tip of a stick in a clear brook and you’ll see it “bend” underwater because the speed of light is literally slower beneath the surface than it is in air.” 0 likes
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