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Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,029 ratings  ·  413 reviews
Take a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster?

Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every da
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by W. W. Norton Company
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Valeriy Savarin Hello there. Yes, there's a decent Ukrainian translation.
Though I'd hardly call it bedtime reading material :)
Hello there. Yes, there's a decent Ukrainian translation.
Though I'd hardly call it bedtime reading material :)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  3,029 ratings  ·  413 reviews

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May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, favorites
Standing ovation. This is truly a marvelous, witty and entertaining book. It is rare to see a scientist write with such gusto and appeal. I wanted to hug her in the end.

This book is full of little anecdotes that bring the information alive in one`s mind. Her curiosity is contagious. Physics for everyday life is a book that will put the sparkle in your eye, if you are one of those people who look around, observe and love to know Why. It will make a great gift to the scientifically inclined teen
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How many times have you heard someone say (possibly one of your children…) that a particular subject at school is not relevant to them personally? In this book, author Helen Czerski attempts to show us how physics affects everyday life. Each chapter begins with something everyday – something small; such as trying to get ketchup from a bottle or stirring a cup of tea. From these innocuous springboards, she uses these examples to investigate much greater events in science and technology, using the ...more
ياسر حارب
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Despite the complexity of physics, this book will make you understand it and love it. You observe simple stuff in your daily routine, and never thought about how they work, right? Well this book will make you look at life in a different way.
Physics is for everyone. I kept saying "wow" throughout the book. I recommend this book to everyone.
Karen R
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author and PhD Helen Czerski loves physics and wants others to share her enthusiasm. She sure won me over. This is a thoughtful debut by Czerski, a physicist/oceanographer. Chock full of tidbits on how/why stuff works, she breaks down things that I never even thought about and makes science easily understood.

Curiosity is human nature and I find myself more curious of everyday experiences and thinking about things in new ways after reading Helen’s book. Is it worth paying more for a fluorescent
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is an anomaly, it deals with very technical and complex stuff but tries to take the simple approach to explain said phenomena. Physics will always be a complex subject and even though it affects everything inside and around us , there are few people who can name what this subject is about , let alone try to explain it to other people. This book tries to fill that gap and explain complex physics fundamentals to the masses (us), it succeeds in a way , as some parts of this book were real ...more
L.A. Starks
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is physics without the equations, far more immediate and dramatic than the way we usually encounter it in courses. Czerski provides a great deal of good, basic knowledge--how physics is a part of everything we experience and do. Her examples are easy to understand and refreshing.

The end of the book, about electromagnetism, gets a bit denser. And the conclusion has a "history-of-the-world" overreach aspect. But, these are minor, minor points in an innovative, thoughtful and considerate-to-re
kartik narayanan
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Storm in a Teacup lives up to its name - the book takes basic, every day phenomena and explains the physics behind the phenomena in an easy and approachable fashion.

The stand out feature for me was the clarity of explanations aimed at the common person without getting into too much detail while still retaining the core of the physics. There are multiple topics covered in the book and within each topic, there are various examples considered. This book focuses mainly on newtonian physics which is
aPriL does feral sometimes
Helen Czerski, physicist at University College London's Department of Mechanical Engineering, explains what the physics is behind everyday stuff, like what makes a toaster toast bread or what forces are at work when we stir milk into a serving of tea. Amazing. I had no idea electromagnetic forces were in the bottom of my toaster, for example. I had no idea of why ducks' feet do not freeze. I had no idea of how the sound of thunder worked (that rumble after the initial crash). She talks about the ...more
Douglas Lord
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Damn this book is disappointing because it sounds like it could be so good. It’s scattered, not centered, and feels disorganized. Czerski’s ’splainings aren’t so clear, skipping from point A to point B then to point Z in leaps and bounds. For example, she discusses the strength of air pressure through writing about Otto von Guericke’s vacuum pump demonstration for the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III in 1654. This segues into a discussion of the first attempts at mail by rocket, then space rocke ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2016
For some people, science can baffle them, they see it as confusing and the domain of experts and specialists. In some cases, they are right; there are some hideously complicated theories out there that are seeking to explain the finest detail about quarks, string theory and genetics. But it needn’t be that way, science can explain just how the things that we interact with on a daily basis, work. In this, her first book, Czerski takes some well-known items, like eggs, popcorn, ducks, Wi-Fi, magne ...more
Paul  Perry
Helen Czerski has long been one of my favourite popular science presenters, due largely to the infectious enthusiasm she beings to her work, and this book begins in very much the same tone. The introduction bubbles with her rapid fire passion for knowledge.

However, if think you might find this ebullience wearing, don't worry. Czerski reins this in to a more academic tone for the book proper without ever becoming dry and, Instead, holds the reader's attention in a fascinating way. In each of the
R Nair
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something I wish I could have gotten my hands on while in school. Or even while pursing a degree in Engineering. A very informative and at times unique, out-of-the-box perspective of some of the most fundamental principles in classical physics without the essential mathematics.
John Gribbin
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Slightly edited version of my review in Wall Street Journal:

​Did you realize that the rumble of thunder associated with a lightning flash is actually a result of the whipcrack sound from the lightning flash taking longer to reach the ear from greater heights up the lightning bolt itself? “These sound waves are travelling at about 1,100 feet every second or 767 mph, which means they’re taking 4.7 seconds to cover a mile,” explain Helen Czerski in her entertaining new book. “What I hear just after
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
A pretty strong offering for the popular physics genre. The author does a good job taking everyday events (frequently involving tea, sometimes coffee or milk) as a springboard to show how physical principles and processes play out across a range of scales. The great strength of this book is a welcome focus on phenomena like fluids and surface tension, which are quite fascinating but don't get this thorough a treatment in other books I've read. A drying coffee spill leads to an explanation of how ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It’s so easy to cast an eye over the world that skims over detail and curiosity. Most would admit to just seeing blue skies, oceans, blindly make their cup of tea in the morning and shoving their toast into the toaster, baring no thought to the world around them (me included) however this book has given me a whole new eye when looking over the things I previously didn’t connect the wonders of science to.

If you want a book that will revolutionise your thinking and make you think twice about thos
Baal Of
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bruschetta
This book delivers pretty much everything I like from a general-interest popular science book. Clear explanations of scientific concepts, in this case about physics, and how those ideas connect to impact peoples' lives. I thought the organization of the book was done very well, and liked how Czerski tied disparate threads together. I particularly liked the explanation of how snails use their slime for moving around, and for navigating seemingly impossible routes, all due to the physics of mucus ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Hmmm, how to rate this one...

Well, I didn't love it. In fact, I found it hard to get through. But still, I don't think it was that bad of a book.

Czerski brings some interesting tidbits and every day knowledge of physics into her book and from her writing it is quite clear that she is passionate about science. She even has a sort of love letter to science in the final chapter.

Physics is just a bit convoluted at times and it's tough to visualize some of these concepts without the aid of diagrams
Peter Tillman
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A well-written pop-science book by a young marine physicist. Her personal anecdotes were the most fun -- her college trebuchet project was memorable -- but the book is definitely science-light. Still, I enjoyed it. 3.5 stars
A couple of good professional reviews:

Czerski also writes a monthly column for the Wall Street Journal on this topic: (paywalled?), and she was an award-wi
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at Desert Island Book Reviews

Have you ever wondered why coffee spills leave a ring on the table, or why a piece of buttered toast always falls butter-side down? These are just two of the topics physicist Helen Czerski explains in this book, released at the beginning of January.

I’ve always liked science, though I’ll readily admit that physics was always my least favorite branch (I’m a chemistry kind of person). That doesn’t mean that everyday phenomena don’t sometimes mystify me
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every year, I read a few science books. I have read many great books, but since I’ve read Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes more than one year ago, I’ve never found another book that I enjoyed so much… until now! Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life is exactly what the title promises. But more than that, this is one of those books that make you look at things around you in a different way. Whenever I least expect it, I find myself going back to what I’ve read: yesterday, when I went for ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm slightly clueless when it comes to physics, and as I turns out, I chose the right book to help me see the light. This is a book that anyone can read and comprehend. It may even change your perspective of the physical world.

Each chapter begins with a small example: popcorn popping, swirling water in a teacup, coffee rings on your counter top. After explaining the science behind that phenomenon, it broadens out into larger examples, eventually showing the big picture and how one small law affe
A wonderfully entertaining read which brings the physics that most of us can't understand into the vernacular. Most of all, it concerns itself with simple explanations and clever experiments which the reader can do at home and experience the wonder of physics. The writing style is clear and simple, but it does not stay shy of some good humor, which can make you feel as if you're just having a proper ol' banter with the author. Would totally recommend to any science geeks who come from an angle o ...more
Sara Goldenberg
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wasn't super crazy about it. I knew it's written for the lay person but I just don't think she explains things simply or interestingly enough.

For example, she explains why ketchup is so hard to get out of the bottle. I read it, it didn't much resonate with me, and since my daughter is a big fan of the stuff, I read it to her. Neither of us were terribly impressed.
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I am hugely impressed by how Czerski managed to make physics so accessible and fun to read about. She explains some basic principles of physics - such as gravity or electromagnemtism - by showing how it applies to our everyday, mundane activities and then extrapolates it to their bigger, scientific implications. At no point did I struggle to follow her explanations of how these phenomenon work or did I get bored. It is a truly amazing book.
Siddharth Venkatesan
Wonderful book. Helen gets to the basics of the physics behind everyday life in such a lucid and playful language. Its a joy to read. Highly recommend this.
Ainee Ansaari
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book talks about the Physics behind some quotidian experiences. Being an engineer myself, this book did not offer much novelty but nonetheless, it's a good read. ...more
Alan Ramsay
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uses a lot of analogy to explain things a bit more simply than some readers may need, but interesting and readable
Sarah Clement
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a time when everyone is obsessed with astrophysics, this popular science book about the physics of everyday life is a breath of fresh air. Czerski is an excellent science communicator, making physics both easy to understand and even fun. Her love of physics certainly comes through in this book, and you get the sense that she never stops delighting in seeing the fundamental physical principles at play in everyday life. I am a person much more interested in Earth and the problems we face here t ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating read - and the author has dive an amazing capacity to convey complex physics concepts in relatable, easy to understand terms. I so hope she continues with this line of books. The world would be much different if our teachers shared the details to make physics easy to understand and and relevant at the same time. I am so inspired by this author.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Summary: I've never had an intuitive grasp of physics, but Helen Czerski explained concepts in an engaging way that constantly gave me new insights into everyday phenomena.

"Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you’re interested in what makes the universe tick."(source)

I've long felt that my understanding of the physics everyday objects around me i
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Helen Czerski is a physicist at University College London’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a science presenter for BBC. She writes a monthly column for BBC Focus magazine called “Everyday Science” that was shortlisted for a Professional Publishers Association Award.

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