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The Cosmic Machine: The Science That Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Energy, Entropy, Atoms, and Quantum Mechanics form the very foundation of our universe. But how do they govern the world we live in? What was the difficult path to their discovery? Who were the key players that struggled to shape our current understanding?

The Cosmic Machine​ takes you from the earliest scientific inquiries in human history on an exciting journey in searc
Paperback, First, 358 pages
Published August 15th 2017 by Zoari Press
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James F You can borrow the Kindle version for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. It's well worth paying for, though.…moreYou can borrow the Kindle version for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. It's well worth paying for, though.(less)
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Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
This review is based on an advance reader copy provided by the author.

Bembenek’s goal is to make learning physics interesting for the non-scientist. In this he largely succeeds with a proviso. This is not a light read. It is for the lay reader with a deep interest in physics. The difficulty is not the included equations. These are straightforward, well explained and help clarify the text. Rather it is that complex concepts are not glossed over. They are presented in detail that goes beyond many
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who want to know where quantum mechanics came from
Oct 23, 2017

Dear Sean,

Apologies for the slow reply. I have just come back from a conference in Paris, and there's been a lot of departmental politics going on. Anyway, I have finally had time to take a quick look at The Cosmic Machine. I'm afraid I can't say I'm very impressed. The author is not affiliated to any history of science department, and the book is obviously self-published. At risk of stating the obvious, what is the point of having an academic peer review process, if not to exclude p
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More than 5 shining stars.

Just Awesome ! ! !
Review to come.
Elisabet Norris
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An enjoyable and educational read of the history of physics.

Scott takes you through the history by telling the story with great detail, involving both the historical characters and their scientific brilliance. This is written with a scientifically evolving pattern, so as you read on, you can see how later concepts were often advanced copies of previous discoveries, whether it was through recognizing the failures and making improvements, or recognizing the success and continuing the process furt
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a well written overview of several fundamental chemistry and physics topics, conveniently organized into bite sized chunks within four major categories: energy, entropy, atoms, and quantum mechanics.

At first, I found myself wondering who the target audience was, since the subjects felt a bit basic for someone with a strong science background, but at times felt a bit abstract for the general layman. To that extent, I think the book could
Mbogo J
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This presents a challenge in writing the review, you do not want to be that sycophant who gives a false glowing review neither do you want to be that jerk who thinks that a negative review is more 'honest.' That aside, a good book pleads its own cause and this is a good book. It is one of the best popular science 'starter' books I have ever come across.
Scott chose four pillars which in his opinion are the key to understanding
Deepak Pitaliya
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
4.5 stars actually.
First of all my thanks to Scott for sharing the review copy with me. A very good book for all popular science book lovers. There are not many books which deal with energy,entropy and thermodynamics written for ordinary public. Book is written in a very simple language but subject matter sometimes is not as easy to understand specially towards end when Schrodinger's wave function appears. History part of progress made in science is most absorbing and one can see how much resear
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author kindly sent me a preview copy of this and I am so glad to have had the chance to read it. Having done A level physics and been constantly intrigued by the discoveries of the subject but frequently confused by the whole thing I was hoping that this would bring a bit of sense to it all. And it did just that. By focusing on four main areas and passing the information across as a story of discovery Bembenek makes the confusing and complicated understandable. He takes you through the first ...more
Eric Wurm
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
In attempting to make science available to everyone the chemical physicist Scott Bembenek thoroughly covers the history of physics for the lay person. While many physics books can be loaded with jargon and beyond the grasp of the non-physicist, "The Cosmic Machine" adeptly and deftly explains the methods behind the development of physics.

Much like the show "Cosmos", this book covers many famous names and their work, such as Galileo, Christian Huygens, LaPlace, Bohr, Rutherford, Copernicus, Jame
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly engaging. I particularly enjoyed the section on entropy; he did a great job making accessible a very difficult concept. And it's refreshing to learn some of the real stories behind these real people. ...more
Jose Moa
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a honest, rather original popular science book.

It is honest in the sense that it is not a fancy phisics book,all physics here is widely tested and widely accepted,it dont claims to have the ultimate source of the physical laws,for now it belongs to the realm of metaphysics.

It is original because it exposes the thesis that in the creation of the physical reality almost nothing has happened and the physical laws are based in almost nothing.

The absolute nothingness is absolutely homogeneus
Sergey Batusov
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I got a review copy of this book directly from the author. Although I’m more or less familiar with most physical concepts covered in this book, it was very interesting to read a consistent and almost mathematics-free explanation of the most fundamental conceptions that form the basis the modern physics was evolved from. Even more I was interested to read about actual scientists that developed these theories, how they influenced each other, how one discovery became a starting point for another, l ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cosmology
"Each new generation is reared by its predecessor; the latter must therefore improve in order to improve its successor. The movement is circular."
"A mind that questions everything, unless strong enough to bear the weight of its ignorance, risks questioning itself and being engulfed in doubt".
Emile Durkheim

Luckily, physics, specially the two universal laws, and the part known as quantum, are my favorites, so had plenty of time trying to grasp th
Dan Graser
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this, the author's first major book for the layman, Scott Bembenek mostly succeeds in what he set out to do, that being to explain the stories behind the basic elements of physics (and chemistry) that are responsible for much of what we experience in the physical world.

Dividing the book into four main sections covering the fundamental building blocks of the universe: Energy, Entropy, Atoms, Quantum Mechanics; Bembenek structures this work mainly as an historical narrative as opposed to theor
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
1st ebook excerpt: PART IV - Uncertainty: Quantum Mechanics - Chapter 15, The Quantum Atom: Revisiting the Atom// THE COSMIC MACHINE: The Science That Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It
by Scott Bembenek (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, First, 350 pages
Expected publication: June 2017 by Zoari Press

Dr. Bembenek, I just finished reading the above excerpt of your (nothing short of a) masterpiece. Literally, to say the least, am waiting eagerly to read the entire book. THE COSMIC MACHINE very much
Andreas Laurencius
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The cosmic machine, the title says it all. I was curious about what a chemist's take on the world would be like and I was pleased with its delivery. It is different from other popular science books that I've read. The book itself is much fun; I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in science, along with Dr. Hawking and Dr. Greene's books!

However, even though the history of science part was very enjoyable to read, it could've been made shorter, in my opinion. More science stuff! I hope
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics
Although it was sometimes very difficult to follow (especially with quantum mechanics and all the equations and stuff) I really enjoyed this book. It deals with some of the most interesting topics in physics (energy, entropy, atoms and quantum mechanics) and the story behind them.
Did I understand all of it? Hell no ¿Did it arouse my curiosity on the subject? Of course it did. So, if you want to know at least a little bit more about how the universe works, I would say that this is a good book to
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has a love for science and history, this book is a must read. It introduces readers to abstract topics in science and successfully discusses them in a simplified and captivating manner. The history that spans the book keeps the reader continuously intrigued even as the topics being discussed can be quite complex. Dr. Bembenek, however, does a phenomenal job of not only simplifying these complex topics but keeping the reader engaged at all times during this journey across time.
Shane Phillips
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. While it may have more math in it than other similar books, the math is straight forward an explained very well. Thank you to the author for sharing a review copy.
James F
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of science popularizations, and this book was quite different from most. While most of the popular books I have read, even the better ones, skim quickly over classical physics and atoms (if they cover this territory at all) to get to the "trendier" subjects of elementary particles, the big bang, and speculations about string theory and multiverses, Bembenek takes just the opposite approach. He is a chemist, and while most of the book could be loosely categorized as "physics", it is ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven't had a science class in... well... it's been awhile. I don't have a science background or a math background, and don't take too kindly to a lot of technical detail. I found The Cosmic Machine to be an approachable book on the history of science, ideal for those who, like me, are intellectually curious, but have some gaps in their understanding which they would like to fill. It reminded me of a few things I long forgot, but it taught me many more things I never knew. I think it would als ...more
Krista Banks
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I'm the kind of person who, throughout my whole life, thought “I wonder who discovered this?” or even, “How did they discover this?” In reading The Cosmic Machine, I was supplied with a plethora of answers to these very questions, or at least those related to the field of physics. While my experience is primarily in the biological field, there has always been an underlying curiosity about physics and chemistry, and this book satisfied
John Keith
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Bembenek’s The Cosmic Machine takes the reader on a fascinating journey that follows the evolution of our understanding of the universe in which we live. From early philosophers authoritatively declaring the nature of nature, to the first controlled experiments examining the most basic of physical phenomena. The struggle to define energy and how its conserved, and the enigma of entropy are all part of a narrative which eventually leads the reader to the smallest gears of the universal machin ...more
Steve Pauls
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on an advanced copy provided by the author.

Writing a science book pitched at the general audience is often a difficult task. The author, Scott Bembenek, of “The Cosmic Machine” does a wonderful job of drawing the reader in by telling the story of the major concepts in physics through its historical figures. From Democritus to Galileo and Newton to Schrodinger the story of “interesting ideas” in science emerges in front of your eyes as he weaves together a comprehensive, acc
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 3-by-ww, 1-by-men
After being somewhat suspicious of yet another 'Intro to Physics' popular science book I was won over. The topics chosen are less sexy than the usual pop-sci books namely thermodynamics, entropy and basic quantum mechanics, but they are therefore rather fresher than relativity and string theory to the jaded reader.

The other nice thing is the historical approach. Each idea is traced from its early origins, each step contextualised in terms of developments of previous ideas and rivalries between i
Count Stroganov
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although limited by only a curiosry interest in science & physics, I remain an on-going student of history. Thus I read Scott's book as one of a Historian 1st and was delighted with my advancement of the works of those who have preceded us.
While not an easy read for me initially, reading it again allowed an expanded grasp and improved appreciation for the depth of the research in compling producing a quality textbook on the subjects history.
Presented as it is written has not only enlightened me
Pam Shelton-Anderson
My original college major was physics and astronomy and I have a masters in biophysics, but it has been a long time since I have had classes in one of my favorite subjects. This book is written in a very pleasant manner but is also able to impart the information clearly and in a way that will interest most readers. I really liked the stories of the evolution of the concepts of physics from BCE era onward and how our understanding of it builds. It was a chance to revisit some old friends. I have ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
"Because the stories are as important as the discoveries themselves." This is the author's inscription on my advanced reader's copy. He goes on to demonstrate his point throughout the book. In the age before readily available timepieces, Galileo used his own pulse to time his experiments. Einstein's undemanding job in a patent office left him plenty of time to think, and to publish ground breaking papers. The stories create a history explaining the background of much of the physics that I studie ...more
Kc Chea
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read the Author's advance copy.

As an old engineer, it's been a while since I read about basic science discoveries and quantum physics. I've benefited from these great discoveries in my work without knowing the back story of the human spirit to search for answers and creative solutions.

This book was well written and easy to ready. A lot of the topics still eludes me in science (quantum theory to name one), but the style of writing and personal stories of the scientists were fun to read about. T
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review based on an preview copy provided by the author.

The author presents a good overview of physics and physical chemistry with some history thrown in, written for a general audience. I don't know how well the reader would be able to follow along without already having a background in science, though. I think they might drift away after a while.

One slightly irritating aspect of the book was the tremendous amount of footnotes. I felt they interrupted the flow of the text and didn't always provi
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Scott has a PhD in theoretical chemical physics, was a National Research Council Fellow, and works as a computational chemist doing drug discovery research. He has made substantial contributions to the areas of statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, glass theory, liquid dynamics, and computational drug discovery, with his work appearing in several scientific journals. He has also written popular s ...more

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