Kit's Reviews > Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Physics for Future Presidents by Richard A. Muller
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's review
Mar 02, 2009

it was amazing

Physics for Future Presidents was originally a class taught by the author at UC Berkeley. Students voted it the best class on campus. Then it became a series of podcasts, and now it's this book, which is extremely readable, very interesting, and ought to be required reading for everyone in the US, future presidents included.

The book covers the physics of subjects like terrorism, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, energy policy, and global warming. The genius of this approach is that it cuts through all the political rhetoric on both sides: laws of physics are laws of physics and they aren't budging for anyone, and they make a big difference in what can and should be done on all these issues.

A recurring theme in the book is that the real problem isn't complete ignorance on a subject - it's all the things "well-informed" people think they know that turn out not to be true. It turns out I had a lot of these - like the "the real danger is a dirty bomb" (actually, the radiation in a dirty bomb, which uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive trash over a large area, is only a danger to the terrorists using it, since they're the ones in contact with it *before* it explodes, while the radiation is still concentrated enough to hurt somebody).

This is a great popular science book in which the science is actually rigorous, and it can apply to everybody's life, whether you're listening to the news or trying to figure out the best way to lower your fuel bills.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Daisy (new)

Daisy Kit, This sounds like something Craig would love! I've added to our library list. Thanks! Daisy

message 2: by Kit (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kit Yay! I hope Craig likes it!

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