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Only the Longest Threads

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Only the Longest Threads presents dramatic and lucid accounts of the great breakthroughs in the history of physics—classical mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and string theory—each from the viewpoint of a (fictional) witness to the events.

Tasneem Zehra Husain re-imagines the pivotal moments in the history of physics when rad
Paperback, 222 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Paul Dry Books (first published October 25th 2014)
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4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  54 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Rhonda Cutler
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Only the Longest Threads by Tasneem Zehra Husain

This book explains the half dozen great breakthroughs in physics by describing them in their contemporary social setting. It is written for the non-scientist, without a single equation; even complicated concepts are meaningfully explained in everyday language.

One great advantage of using fictionalized contemporary accounts is that the reader gets a fresh appreciation of the audacity of imagination required to achieve these upheavals in our understa
Sylvia True
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book will leave you with a sense of awe, both for the science that is described, and the author’s brilliant use of language. I find myself wanting to quote every single sentence of this book. Here are just a few.
“What we call gravity, said Einstein, is merely a manifestation of this warped geometry. If this is indeed true, if the very shape of space-time itself changes, then it is not just massive objects whose paths are affected; light, too, will be forced to bend according to the dips and
Shahid Durrani
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Only the longest threads was great. It was engagingly written and had me smiling once I was done. Some books leave one with a sense of exhilaration once you finish them; this was one of them.

Here were some of my takeaways: scientists are human, the best of us and the real heroes of humanity. I was left with even more admiration for them. While the book focused on snapshots of some of the most important moments in physics, its triumph was in piecing these into a coherent story. The book was thoug
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Donna by: a friend
Can you imagine a book about some major physics milestones that is written as fiction, with the physics portions being meticulously accurate and fascinating to read about? I couldn't! Yet I was enchanted the entire time I read this book. I never studied physics nor read about it until I encountered this book.

I was captivated by the beautiful writing and learned much about some milestones of physics history. There are characters in this work yet it is the physics research moments and the physici
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A poetically and engagingly written book that makes physics approachable and understandable for those who are interested in stories as well as physics. With beautiful language and compelling characters, the science comes alive for the readers of Only the Longest Threads.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
The explanations of physics were mostly engaging and easy to follow (until the most recent discoveries), but the narrative devices were contrived and felt absurdly forced. I would have appreciated this more as an essay or light history than as fiction.
Annie Weatherwax
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book by a brilliant writer.
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best book on this subject that I've encountered out of 20 or 30 similar introductory books. Page-turner, riveting, and accurate based on my limited independent knowledge.

I've been a bibliophile for more than 40 years, and a physicist (though only at the baccalaureate level) for 30 years. Before I read this book, some of my idols of the physics community have been Professors Albert Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Richard Feynman, Marie Curie, Freeman Dyson, Harriet Brooks, Carl Sagan,
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very good premise well executed- the narrative device really helps put you in the relevant time period and understand the significance of the new theory.
The first three chapters were relative straightforward to understand the physics involved - but from then on it got harder and harder to comprehend. That may have been my lack of understanding and intellect rather than the book - but it was hard to get through the last few theories and feel like you had a grasp of them.
I'm glad I took on the
Karl Nehring
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A delightful book! Lots of good information that was presented in a fictional setting that made it easy to follow as the characters explained how they worked through trying to understand new and challenging developments in physics. A great complementary volume to Amanda Gefter's "Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn."
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliant, like Sophie's World for physics. I even understand string theory a bit now. A bit.
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Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Tasneem Zehra Husain is a writer, educator and Pakistan's first female string theorist. Tasneem is fascinated by scientific theories, how we engage with them, and how they change us. She explores these themes in her fiction and nonfiction writing, her popular talks, and the educational workshops she conducts for science teachers. Tasneem is actively involved in science outreach, and frequently del ...more
“Being a scientist means that you should be able to put your faith to the test, and be willing to surrender it should evidence so require. But it does not mean we have no beliefs. In fact, the very discipline of science is based on the belief that the world is comprehensible, and even more audaciously, that it is mathematically describable. The thing about scientific beliefs is that they are not arbitrary. They’re not just random opinions we plucked out of the sky; we came to them through observation and experience, and so far, these beliefs have always been vindicated.” 0 likes
“Einstein didn’t frame his questions as: “what happens to light if …” but instead as “what would I see if I were to ride a light beam?” or “what would I feel if I were in free fall, in a box out in space, far away from any gravitational field?” Einstein cast himself as the protagonist of the story. That’s exactly what we do when we read fiction! I had never noticed the parallel before.” 0 likes
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