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How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life, 6th Edition


Author: Louis A. Bloomfield

Publisher: Wiley


Publish Date: January 11, 2016

ISBN-10: 1118994353

Pages: 528

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Physics is a remarkably practical science. Not onlydoes it explain how things work or why they don’t, it also offers great insight into how to create, improve, and repair those things. Because of that fundamental relationship between physics and real objects, introductory physics books are essentially users’ manuals for the world in which we live.

Like users’ manuals, however, introductory physics books are most accessible when they’re based on realworld examples. Both users’ manuals and physics texts tend to go unread when they’re written like reference works, organized by abstract technical issues, indifferent to relevance, and lacking in useful examples. For practical guidance, most readers turn to “how to” books and tutorials instead; they prefer the “case-study” approach.

How Things Work is an introduction to physics and science that starts with whole objects and looks inside them to see what makes them work. It follows the casestudy method, exploring physics concepts on a need-toknow basis in the context of everyday objects. More than just an academic volume, this book is intended to be interesting, relevant, and useful to non-science students.

Most physics texts develop the principles of physics first and present real-life examples of these principles reluctantly if at all. That approach is abstract and inaccessible, providing few conceptual footholds for students as they struggle to understand unfamiliar principles. After all, the comforts of experience and intuition lie in the examples, not in the principles. While a methodical and logical development of scientifi c principles can be satisfying to the seasoned scientist, it’s alien to someone who doesn’t even recognize the language being used.

In contrast, How Things Work brings science to the reader rather than the reverse. It conveys an understanding and appreciation for physics by fi nding physics concepts and principles within the familiar objects of everyday experience. Because its structure is defi ned by real-life examples, this book necessarily discusses concepts as they’re needed and then revisits them whenever they reappear in other objects. What better way is there to show the universality of the natural laws?

I wrote this book to be read, not merely referred to. It has always been for nonscientists and I designed it with them in mind. In the seventeen years I have been teaching

How Things Work, many of my thousands of students have been surprised at their own interest in the physics of everyday life, have asked insightful questions, have experimented on their own, and have found themselves explaining to friends and family how things in their world work

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