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Light Years and Time Travel: An Exploration of Mankind's Enduring Fascination with Light Hardcover – Jan 25 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (Jan. 25 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471211826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471211822
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 21.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,731,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Extraordinary... Clegg?s accessible writing style manages to encapsulate the lives of light?s disciples with humorous and interesting anecdotes... Clegg also provides real scientific insight into how light behaves. He explains complex theories through lucid metaphors, without resorting to the elaborate diagrams so beloved of some popular science writers." (New Scientist)

"This immensely likeable work of pop science traces "man's enduring fascination with light," from Aristotle's plans for a death ray (burning enemy ships with a giant array of mirrors) through to a recent experiment that seems to have sent Mozart's 40th Symphony faster than light, and thus back through time. Clegg is very good at explaining the bizarre properties of light..." (The Guardian U.K.)

"It is rare to see a review of a non-reference book in these pages, but Brian Clegg's book is a treat to be savoured. We are familiar with names such as Snell, Faraday, Newton and Galileo, but Clegg tells us something of their lives and the paths by which they came to provide the foundations of the optical knowledge which is essential to our livelihood. He relates it with humour and originality. Amongst the collection of gems is an explanation of Fermat's Principle of Least Time. I admit to being less than fascinated when Ivan Wilson went through the proof in a lecture at City College but, at the time, no one had heard of Baywatch, and no one had refered to the concept as the Baywatch Principle, as Clegg does!
The book follows the history of the efforts to comprehend the nature of light, from the Ancient Greeks to modern scientists such as Feynman and Nimtz. The future is considered too: the instant transportation of matter has now been achieved and the invention of 'slow' glass will allow us to display in our homes scenes captured from afar which emerge, over time, from the surface.
The text is well pitched, being not too elementary to bore, yet interesting and thought provoking enough for those who have studied optics to a higher level. I recommend it highly." — Paula Stevens -Dispensing Optician (the magazine of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians)

From the Publisher

"Extraordinary... Clegg's accessible writing style manages to encapsulate the lives of light's disciples with humorous and interesting anecdotes... Clegg also provides real scientific insight into how light behaves. He explains complex theories through lucid metaphors, without resorting to the elaborate diagrams so beloved of some popular science writers." (New Scientist)

"This immensely likeable work of pop science traces "man's enduring fascination with light," from Aristotle's plans for a death ray (burning enemy ships with a giant array of mirrors) through to a recent experiment that seems to have sent Mozart's 40th Symphony faster than light, and thus back through time. Clegg is very good at explaining the bizarre properties of light..." (The Guardian U.K.)

"It is rare to see a review of a non-reference book in these pages, but Brian Clegg's book is a treat to be savoured. We are familiar with names such as Snell, Faraday, Newton and Galileo, but Clegg tells us something of their lives and the paths by which they came to provide the foundations of the optical knowledge which is essential to our livelihood. He relates it with humour and originality. Amongst the collection of gems is an explanation of Fermat's Principle of Least Time. I admit to being less than fascinated when Ivan Wilson went through the proof in a lecture at City College but, at the time, no one had heard of Baywatch, and no one had refered to the concept as the Baywatch Principle, as Clegg does!
The book follows the history of the efforts to comprehend the nature of light, from the Ancient Greeks to modern scientists such as Feynman and Nimtz. The future is considered too: the instant transportation of matter has now been achieved and the invention of 'slow' glass will allow us to display in our homes scenes captured from afar which emerge, over time, from the surface.
The text is well pitched, being not too elementary to bore, yet interesting and thought provoking enough for those who have studied optics to a higher level. I recommend it highly." — Paula Stevens -Dispensing Optician (the magazine of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Written in an easy, flowing style, Mr.Clegg's book is full of interesting and apposite facts about light and the people who gave us the basis of our current understanding. A master storyteller, he does not pontificate or try to blind the reader with science, rather, he opens our eyes to the possibilities afforded by that science - describing it all in layman's terms, but definitely not patronising or 'dumbing-down'.
The first chapter is a taster of the future potential of experimentation with light, outlining some tremendous possibilities. Then we are treated to an overview of the perception of light by the ancients, whose theories were taken as gospel during the Dark Ages and only began to be questioned in the Middle Ages - but even then heresy loomed large for anyone trying to usurp the accepted 'facts'.
Continuing, potted biographies of the greats of science; Bacon, Davinci, Galileo, Descartes, Newton et al, give us a clearer picture of the problems that the new wave of scientists faced.
Then we get into the meat of the problem - what is light made of? (which is still not fully answered). Fascinating insights into recent and modern theory and fact leaves one's mind boggling, trying to contain the concepts, speeds and distances involved.
Immensely readable, I encourage anyone with even a passing interest in light, science or history to read this book - they will be rewarded by a new persective of the world.
As further reading, I also recommend 'Unweaving the Rainbow' by Richard Dawkins.*****.
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Format: Hardcover
Written in an easy, flowing style, Mr.Clegg's book is full of interesting and apposite facts about light and the people who gave us the basis of our current understanding. A master storyteller, he does not pontificate or try to blind the reader with science, rather, he opens our eyes to the possibilities afforded by that science - describing it all in layman's terms, but definitely not patronising or 'dumbing-down'.
The first chapter is a taster of the future potential of experimentation with light, outlining some tremendous possibilities. Then we are treated to an overview of the perception of light by the ancients, whose theories were taken as gospel during the Dark Ages and only began to be questioned in the Middle Ages - but even then heresy loomed large for anyone trying to usurp the accepted 'facts'.
Continuing, potted biographies of the greats of science; Bacon, Davinci, Galileo, Descartes, Newton et al, give us a clearer picture of the problems that the new wave of scientists faced.
Then we get into the meat of the problem - what is light made of? (which is still not fully answered). Fascinating insights into recent and modern theory and fact leaves one's mind boggling, trying to contain the concepts, speeds and distances involved.
Immensely readable, I encourage anyone with even a passing interest in light, science or history to read this book - they will be rewarded by a new persective of the world.
As further reading, I also recommend 'Unweaving the Rainbow' by Richard Dawkins.
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Format: Hardcover
.
In our book stores there has been has a dramatic increase in shelf space dedicated to pop-science books in the last few years. "Light Years and Time Travel" is very typical of the genre. There's no math to frighten the innumerate and everything is written in challenge-free language. The average tabloid newspaper browser with the reading age of a 12-year-old would be comfortable with this book.
The scope of this book could not be broader. It's "everything you want to know about light", written from a historical perspective. It takes us from the wisdom of the ancients, through the insights of Galileo and Newton and ultimately to the exciting possibilities of our post-Einsteinian world. With all this ground to cover, Brain Clegg never really attempts to penetrate or take his topic apart, but rather he just skates around the surface. With his lightweight journalistic style, he sees his role as closer to entertainer rather than educator. There is no serious attempt at elucidation (shedding of light) beyond a feint, superficial illumination.
The structure of the book is in the form of a chronological series of potted biographies of the great luminaries. The author obviously found himself a "Boy's Own Bumper Book" of amazing scientific history and strung together all the references he could find on light and optics. It's very formulaic and it shows. There's not an original insight, in sight.
It is acknowledged that there is a well-deserved place for popular science books in the market place. The real test of their effectiveness is their ability to build a reader's curiosity and to generate a desire to explore a subject in more depth. Instead, after reading this book, you feel bloated as if you have just ingested a big bucket of popcorn.
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By A Customer on Jan. 31 2002
Format: Hardcover
An intentionally accessible book on the history of the discovery and understanding of the mechanisms of light, including an insight into the lives of those involved, and mind-blowing possibilities for the future. This fascinating account reveals how many of what are now considered "obvious" properties of light were thought of in the past as revolutionary, heresy, or even lunacy. As such, the book is a must for anyone in education seeking to motivate students in the study of light.
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