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Lightness of Being: Big Questions, Real Answers

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,046 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
The Lightness of Being is a tour de force, revealing a universe where matter is the hum of strange music, mass doesn’t weigh, and empty space is a multilayered, multicoloured superconductor. Physicists' understanding of the essential nature of reality changed radically over the past quarter century. And Frank Wilczek has played a lead role in establishing the new paradigms ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published February 4th 2010 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published August 25th 2008)
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Sep 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not my favorite type.It's about something that I am not interest in.The view is such rubbish.Though lots of professors write some good comment about,I don't liike it too.The comments about the book are so empty and white.It's not worth to get the nobel price in physics.What the hell!!
Physics is a dismal science. It does not have the authority of economics. I remember being told “what goes up must go down”. This, patently, is not true. Look at rockets.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
Absolutely terrific and definitely in my top three science favorites. Wilczek delves further into modern physics than any other "popular" physics book out there without tip-toeing around the more complicated topics.

He describes particle theory and the Standard Model better than Leon Lederman, relativity better than Brian Greene, gravity better than Stephen Hawking, and QCD better than... well, no one tries to explain QCD.

He did do a few things that bothered me a little though. On occasion, Wilc
Darth J
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review originally posted at My Bookshelf is Ready.

I liked it. There were jokes sprinkled throughout that had me chuckling, but there was also a bit too much math in it. It went from a conversational tone to a lecture with formulas taking up a good portion of page space and making my eyes cross.

I think this is why we have such a disparity right now in our STEM programs: it isn’t approachable to the masses. Maybe since most of these books are written by right-brained individuals, they aren’t writt
Brian Clegg
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to start this review with two clarifications and a proviso. The first clarification is that this quite an old book (2008), but someone just brought it to my attention. The second clarification is about the book's title. It's not about 'The lightness of being Frank Wilczek', that's just an unfortunate choice of title. The proviso is about the four star rating. This, to me, is a very mixed book. It does two things brilliantly, and quite a lot of other things not very well. If you are intere ...more
As an expert writing for laypersons, Frank does well. He includes humor and good metaphors to help the layperson understand a world beyond our perceptions and which stretches our understanding--for instance he makes 32 dimensions sound fairly reasonable and shows why Quantum Theory is so persuasive. However, he seems to think that saying when he'll tackle particularly thorny issues later in the book excuses him from connecting all the many and convoluted dots for his non-physicist readers (who s ...more
Zachary G. Augustine
A strange sort of science book.

It has almost no appeal to non-scientifically minded people so I'm curious why Wilczek makes an attempt to limit the jargon and simplify his explanations to the point where they don't give the full picture. In the places where he does trust the reader and explain, it's not very good and overly complicated.

Thus we have the worst qualities of what is meant to be an informative book on his corner of science. The tone is also just bizarre and even sort of awkward.

Robert Vlach
Protože mě zajímá moderní fyzika v nezkresleném podání, velmi mě potěšila kniha The Lightness of Being. Česky vyšla jako Lehkost bytí a napsal ji nobelový fyzik Frank Wilczek, kterého mi nedávno doporučoval Petr Koubský v diskusi o Feynmanovi. Název odkazuje na Kunderu, ale text je vysoce technický a blízký jiným vědcům jako David Deutsch (Beginning of Infinity) či Stephen Hawking (Velkolepý plán). Wilczek píše především o podstatě hmoty a gravitace, přičemž čtenáře rozhodně nešetří detailů. Kni ...more
Ericka Clouther
This book is from 2008 but it focuses on different aspects of particle physics than books that I've read so far. A few things I learned/ reviewed include:

1) energy is not conserved- as proved at CERN by creating more mass from smashing protons and neutrons together (Ch 3),

2) the interiors of protons and neutrons are made of quarks and gluons which we can't see directly (categorized by flavors/colors) (Ch 7),

3) a different description of the uncertainty principle than I've heard (Ch 7),

4) qua
Ami Iida
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
It's written about LHC and CERN, quantum mechanics computer, quantum mechanics theory.
Bojan Tunguz
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important scientific stories of 2008 has been the calculation of the heavy particle masses ("hadrons") using some of the most elaborate computational methods yet. This has been yet another vindication of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), a strange theory that governs the interactions of particles that make up atomic nuclei. This theory is a cousin of electromagnetism, and like the theory of electromagnetism it is deceptively easy to formulate (at least with the aid of some higher mat ...more
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“The legendary Danish physicist Niels Bohr distinguished two kinds of truths. An ordinary truth is a statement whose opposite is a falsehood. A profound truth is a statement whose opposite is also a profound truth.” 3 likes
“Planck noted that although the Andromedans wouldn't have access to our rulers, scales, or clocks, they would have access to our physical laws, which are the same as theirs. They could measure, in particular, three universal constants:

c: The speed of light.

G: Newton's gravitational constant. In Newton's theory, this is a measure of the strength of gravity. To be precise, in Newton's law of gravity, the gravitational force between the bodies of masses m1, m2 separated by distance r is Gm1m2/r^2.

h: Planck's constant.”
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