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Understanding Physics (Motion, Sound, and Heat / Light, Magnetism, and Electricity / The Electron, Proton, and Neutron)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  835 ratings  ·  19 reviews
While many of us understand complex theories of criticism or finance, we cannot explain why the lights go on when we flick a switch or how a radio works. In this reader-friendly, unabridged edition of three of his best-selling books, renowned science writer Isaac Asimov demystifies physics, teaching the fundamentals in a manner easily understood by lay people. Including ...more
Hardcover, 833 pages
Published November 1st 1988 by Dorset Press (first published 1966)
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 ·  835 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone with a curiosity about the way things work
Shelves: reference
Back in high school, my physics course was a complete joke. Our teacher was a football coach who was more interested in that than teaching us physics.

Then in college, I was forced to take Physics 101 and 103. I hated them with an undying passion. I didn't understand most of what the textbook was trying to tell me, the teachers were boring and monotonal...I had a real mental block about pretty much anything having to do with physics. I thought I was a hopeless case.

Then, a few years ago, I was
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Understanding Physics, a compilation of three volumes covering (I) Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics, (II) electromagnetism, and (III) atomic physics, is a fantastically useful reference for everything you probably learned in high school physics and then forgot. Like all of Dr. Asimov's nonfiction, it is written with the utmost clarity, and contains no mathematics more advanced than simple algebra. It is also very well indexed and cross-referenced.

Dr. Asimov preferred to write about science
Colby Lemon
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the first physics book I read, and I have gone on to read very many since then. I can't say that I wouldn't have chosen to become a physicist had I not read this book, as I was naturally drawn to physics. But for me, this turned out to be the perfect first physics book, because Asimov did a fantastic job of introducing the subject in an accessible way without dumbing it down like so many popular science writers would have done. He also does a wonderful job of mixing the history of the ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics, own
This 3-volume set is a rich resource to understand physics clearly. Asimov always gives you a little bit of history on each concept, which really draws you into its fundamental properties. Asimov has written books on an incredible number of topics, so he KNOWS how to explain topics. He is so clear and concise. What is nice, is that you can pick any topic you'd like in this 3-volume set and read it individually. Sure, the chapter or so in front of it can help too. But you can really just read any ...more
Rikhard Von Katzen
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: actual-science
Okay, so it's not the standard model of particle physics, General Relativity or Quantum Chromo-Dynamics. But as a sort of primer on applied physics this is one of the best general audience books out there. Asimov doesn't 'fake it' (as Feyman always warned about), but gives it straight and notes when he's leaving details and complications out. This book is not bleeding edge particle mechanics but it would serve you well in a Newtonian Universe. Probably my favorite book by Asimov.
Daniel McMillan
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book! Starts off with ancient Greek philosophy and then begins to correct one thing at a time, leading to a linear and easy understanding of the principles that followed. A must-read for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of physics or start from zero and work their way up.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even though it's written for the layman, it still a bit heavy for the average reader.
Gerald Kinro
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is an overview of the fundamentals of physics. In three volumes, it covers classical physics (motion, sound and heat) Light magnetism and electricity, and modern physics (nuclear physics and electronics). In a very lucid and entertaining style, this great sci-fi writer makes a seemingly difficult subject understandable and riveting. The physics classes I took in college were oriented towards the problem solving. While there are some math problems involved to illustrate the science, it ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: physics
This was the first physics book that I read and I greatly enjoyed it. I do not possess an extensive background in physics, but I did take an introductory course in the subject during High School. I was absolutely amazed with the ease of which Asimov translates the abstract and technical material in this book into everyday language. He also provides numerous concrete examples so that you are able to visualize the concept more concretely.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking an
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Good Doctor presents a comprehensive treatment of every aspect of physics in this one-volume edition, which otherwise is presented in three volumes: Volume 1 Motion, Sound & Heat; Volume 2 Light, Magnetism & Electricity; and Volume 3 Electron, Proton & Neutron.
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, non-fiction
This was originally my dad's book, a long time ago, and I couldn't keep my hands off it when I was a kid. It's an excellent overview by any measure, and far more accessible than any other science book I've since encountered, while still possessing breadth and depth.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Wright
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great summary of basic physics, another great job Asimov!
Feb 11, 2013 marked it as to-read
is it good ?
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
im cool
Dean Parker
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked it: Most everything in layman's terms.
Jun 04, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 88, read-now
11/7/88. No library and no iBooks.
Jay Nickel
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good book if you want to understand the basic ideas of physics at a conversational level. Not a textbook or book for physics students
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Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine