On Wednesday, I am delighted that Marcus Chown, author of We Need to Talk About Kelvin: What Everyday Things Tell Us About the Universe” will be visiting my blog to do a Q&A as part of his blogtour to promote the book. Marcus is a best-selling science author and cosmology consultant for New Scientist magazine.
Today, I shall talk about the book, which I’m going to call WNTTAKel from now on, in which he seeks to explain some very complex quantum physics by looking at its effects in objects around us. Gosh, it all came flooding back to me! I did several terms of this at university with all the equations, and although it was interesting, it was difficult to see how it applied to my subject (materials science), let alone normal life.
This is where WNTTAKel is onto a winner – there are no equations. Let me repeat that – there are no equations! Instead, Chown uses illustrations of quantum physics at work in the real world to explain “why the reflection of your face in a window tells you that the universe is orchestrated by chance” and how static buzz picked up by your TV set emanates from the beginning of the universe amongst other stories. Interspersed with this are tales of the key scientists involved which help to lighten and put some personality into what could otherwise be a rather dry subject. It is split into three sections: What the everyday world is telling you about atoms, stars and then the universe, starting small and ending up very big indeed.
I found it an insightful overview of a difficult subject, written in a clear and accessible way that will satisfy science enthusiasts. I would also heartily recommend it to sixth-form physics and chemistry students.
Do come back on Wednesday and see Marcus’s answers to the questions I posed to him about WNTTAKel, and the state of science in education and the media …