Mike Jensen's Reviews > The Cartoon Guide to Physics

The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Gonick
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's review
Jun 02, 2012

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I have a problem with the way that physics is taught. Regarding one of Newton’s laws, you generally read that if you push against a wall with 100 pounds of force, the wall pushes back with 100 pounds. Walls don’t push, can’t push, can not intend to push, or exert any muscles to push. Consequently, I have no idea what is meant. I tend to assume that resistance to the push is meant and that is why the wall does not move, but that is not what people write. Furthermore, if you push with 1000 pounds of power against a wall, maybe the wall crumbles and you go through it. Resistance fails. Where is Newton’s law then? F=m.a indeed!

OK, so we have established that I do not understand the most basic of concepts in physics. I assume that Newton’s laws are true, but I am either too stupid to understand this one or the way it is explained is so inadequate as to baffle understanding, and so it is in this book. This book used 90 pounds, not 100, but the standard failed ways of explaining physics are in force. Hey, force. Maybe baffling explanations are Newton’s fourth law or Maxwell’s fifth, or something.

This book does a very nice job of explaining physics in the baffling way, but it is still the baffling way. Maybe the next basic physics book I read will get it right.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Mike Jensen, I like your comment, I too don't understand when books give examples like these to explain Newtons second law. I don't think you are stupid, the ones who are writing them are :) who went beyond common sense or they too dumb not to capture the essence and passing on the the confusion down the line.

If you understand the Second law in the sense of wall pushing back please let me know.


Luis Munoz That' s a good question about the third las. Effectively a wall don't push somebody in the way that we think a body push something. Buy the wall excert some force oposite: electrical force. The atoms in the wall tend to stay together by the electrical attraction between its atoms. So when you push a wall, the atoms of the wall push until your force is greater that the electric force.

That's the same reason someone stay in the floor!

message 3: by Mike (last edited Nov 08, 2014 03:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Jensen NOW IT GET IT! Thanks, Luis. Why can't they simply write "resist" instead of - oh, never mind.

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