Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics

Paperback | October 23, 2012

byJim Al-khalili

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A fun and fascinating look at great scientific paradoxes.

   Throughout history, scientists have come up with theories and ideas that just don't seem to make sense.  These we call paradoxes.  The paradoxes Al-Khalili offers are drawn chiefly from physics and astronomy and represent those that have stumped some of the finest minds.  For example, how can a cat be both dead and alive at the same time?  Why will Achilles never beat a tortoise in a race, no matter how fast he runs?  And how can a person be ten years older than his twin?

   With elegant explanations that bring the reader inside the mind of those who've developed them, Al-Khalili helps us to see that, in fact, paradoxes can be solved if seen from the right angle.  Just as surely as Al-Khalili narrates the enduring fascination of these classic paradoxes, he reveals their underlying logic.  In doing so, he brings to life a select group of the most exciting concepts in human knowledge.  Paradox is mind-expanding fun.

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From the Publisher

A fun and fascinating look at great scientific paradoxes.   Throughout history, scientists have come up with theories and ideas that just don't seem to make sense.  These we call paradoxes.  The paradoxes Al-Khalili offers are drawn chiefly from physics and astronomy and represent those that have stumped some of the finest minds.  For ...

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE is a quantum physicist at the University of Surrey and a regular radio and television broadcaster for the BBC. He is winner of both the Royal Society Michael Faraday medal and the Institute of Physics Kelvin medal for his science communication work. Paradox is his fifth book.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.7 inPublished:October 23, 2012Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307986799

ISBN - 13:9780307986795

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Customer Reviews of Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Friendly Introduction to Counterintuitive Topics in Physics I loved this book. Having a background in physics, I found the author’s discussions both refreshing and nostalgic, i.e., most are a pleasant review of arguments that I had studied in detail many years ago. The paradoxes that the author has selected are: Zeno’s, Olbers’, Fermi’s, Maxwell’s Demon, Laplace’s Demon, Schrodinger’s Cat and a few from Relativity. In addition, the author’s first chapter covers a few popular puzzles, including the Monty Hall Problem and the Birthday Paradox (more on this last one below). The author’s prose is very clear, friendly, lively and captivating. The book appears to be aimed primarily at an audience that is not very familiar with physics; consequently, almost no formulas are used. Coming back to the Birthday Paradox, I would like to point out a slight inaccuracy in Chapter 1. The last sentence at the bottom of page 8 should read: “And so the probability of any two OR MORE of the twenty-three people in the room sharing a birthday is ..... 50.73%”. This is because 1 minus the probability that no one shares a birthday is equal to the probability that 2 or more people share the same birthday. Similarly, in the middle of the same page where only three people are involved, the calculated value of 0.0082 is the probability of at least two of the three individuals sharing the same birthday, not just two. This excellent book should appeal to interested general readers as well as science enthusiasts who would like to read a most engaging review of some of the trickier topics in physics, as well as current thinking on some of them.
Date published: 2012-10-30

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 The Game Show Paradox
2 Achilles and the Tortoise
3 Olbers’ Paradox
4 Maxwell’s Demon
5 The Pole in the Barn Paradox
6 The Paradox of the Twins
7 The Grandfather Paradox
8 The Paradox of Laplace’s Demon
9 The Paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat
10 Fermi’s Paradox
11 Remaining Questions
Acknowledgments
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Readers who enjoy mental challenges and scientific mysteries will have fun with Al-Khalili’s lighthearted, accessible discussion.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“A very interesting book with some nifty surprises.” – Booklist Online