The Wonders Collection
By Brian Cox
Review by Imi (Physics)
It’s not a national secret that physicists are not particularly great with words. Honestly, it’s because we’re lazy, words take time to read and put down on the page. Which is why we try to use as little words as possible, rather than writing “the distance between A and B” we’ll call it “x” and rather than writing “change in some quantity y” we’ll just put this “∆y”. This is great if you’re working out the speed at which rockets need to take off and you don’t want to waste time while writing out equations, but if you’re new to physics and have never seen these before then most physics equations will probably look like another language. Unfortunately, most physics books are written by physicists, who have become stuck in their lazy ways, and thus most physics books are, to a novice, an incoherent mess of maths symbols and numbers and if you picked up a physics book off a bookstore shelf you’ll probably want to put it back down and run as far as is possible.
So, I’m going to do what you’re not supposed to do in a book review and recommend you to a TV programme instead.
BBC’s Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe are brilliant series for explaining physical ideas without all the maths. The episodes cover a wide range of physical ideas, from the deeper fundamental theories of the universe such as how gravity bends and shapes the world around us and how we are all subject to the “arrow of time”, to the more everyday consequences of natures’ laws such as how the billions atoms that make up your body have come from a dying star, making you essentially stardust. You’ll learn why Earth is the only planet in our solar system to hold onto its precious delicate atmosphere and why our atmosphere protects the Earth, preserving human life. You’ll learn why the search for alien life has led to the search for water and which planets and moons are the most likely places to find alien life and you’ll learn how the sun powers the solar system.
Whether you want to study physics or not, watching one of these shows will open you up to a whole new type of beauty in nature. You won’t regret it I promise.
If you’re at A Level and aren’t afraid of a little bit of maths (a good sign that you’d make a good physicist) then I’d recommend having a go at one of Brian Cox’s two books Why Does E=mc^2? and The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen. These books give a much more detailed explanation of the 2 underlying physical theories of the universe, gravity and quantum theory, allowing you to appreciate the inner workings of the universe.
Wonders of the Solar System by Brian Cox
Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox