For many of us, physics, like math, has always been a thing of mystery and complexity. In First You Build a Cloud, K. C. Cole provides cogent explanations through animated prose, metaphors, and anecdotes, allowing us to comprehend the nuances of physics-gravity and light, color and shape, quarks and quasars, particles and stars, force and strength. We also come to see how the physical world is so deeply intertwined with the ways in which we think about culture, poetry, and philosophy. Cole, one of our preeminent science writers, serves as a guide into the world of such legendary scientific minds as Richard Feynman, Victor Weisskopf, brothers Frank Oppenheimer and J. Robert Oppenheimer, Philip Morrison, Vera Kistiakowsky, and Stephen Jay Gould.
Welcome to the world of cutting-edge math, physics, and neuroscience, where the search for the ultimate vacuum, the point of nothingness, ground zero of theory, has rendered the universe deep, rich, and juicy. "Modern physics has animated the void," says K. C. Cole in her entrancing journey into the heart of Nothing. Every time scientists and mathematicians think they have reached the ultimate void, new stuff appears: a black hole, an undulating string, an additional dimension of space or time, repulsive anti-gravity, universes that breed like bunnies. Cole's exploration at the edge of everything is as animated and exciting as the void itself. Take Cole's hand on this adventure into the unknown, and you'll come back informed, amused, and excited.
K. C. Cole, the Los Angeles Times science writer and columnist, always has a fresh take on cutting-edge scientific discoveries, which she makes both understandable and very human. Reporting on physics, cosmology, mathematics, astronomy, and more, Cole's essays, culled from her popular Mind Over Matter columns, reveal the universe as simple, constant, and complex--and wholly relevant to politics, art, and every dimension of human life.
How do we reclaim our innate enchantment with the world? And how can we turn our natural curiosity into a deep, abiding love for knowledge? Frank Oppenheimer, the younger brother of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, was captivated by these questions, and used his own intellectual inquisitiveness to found the Exploratorium, a powerfully influential museum of human awareness in San Francisco, that encourages play, creativity, and discovery-all in the name of understanding. In this elegant biography, K. C. Cole investigates the man behind the museum with sharp insight and deep sympathy. The Oppenheimers were a family with great wealth and education, and Frank, like his older brother, pursued a career in physics. But while Robert was unceasingly ambitious, and eventually came to be known for his work on the atomic bomb, Frank's path as a scientist was much less conventional. His brief fling with the Communist Party cost him his position at the University of Minnesota, and he subsequently spent a decade ranching in Colorado before returning to teaching. Once back in the lab, however, Frank found himself moved to create something to make the world meaningful after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was inspired by European science museums, and he developed a dream of teaching Americans about science through participatory museums. Thus was born the magical world of the Exploratorium, forever revolutionizing not only the way we experience museums, but also science education for years to come. Cole has brought this charismatic and dynamic figure to life with vibrant prose and rich insight into Oppenheimer as both a scientist and an individual.
Filled with "a thousand fascinating facts and shrewd observations (Martin Gardner, Los Angeles Times), this "beguiling and lucid book" (San Francisco Chronicle) demonstrates how the truth and beauty of everything, from relativity to rainbows, is all in the numbers. Line drawings.
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