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What Einstein Didn't Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions [Paperback]

Robert Wolke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 12 1999 0440508568 978-0440508564 Reprint
A "Washington Post" columnist offers a fun, fascinating guide to everyday science for those who never wore a slide rule or a pocket protector.

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Product Details

Product Description


"Entertaining . . . a fun read." ---The San Diego Union-Tribune --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Robert L. Wolke is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and a food columnist for The Washington Post. The recipient of numerous awards, he enjoys nationwide renown as an educator, lecturer, and interpreter of science for lay audiences.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for Non-scientists June 15 2000
By Allison
I'm afraid I was taken in by the title, which is deceptive. I'd be shocked if Einstein didn't actually know most of what is in this book. I only had my high-school chemistry, and 2 years of college physics, and I knew 90% of the facts presented in this book.
The book is well written, and the descriptions are clear and accurate. It wasn't a painful read (taking me only 4 hours or so), and I'd reccomend it to my non-technical friends, but if you have a scientific mind and even a little training, don't bother. I was hoping for some more advanced stuff - that even Einstein didn't know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too superficial Oct. 24 2003
By A Customer
The book is very entertaining and quite funny, but for anyone with more than high school chemistry and physics, it is too superficial. The author introduces only one formal concept in the whole book: "molecules" and does this in 4 lines after apologizing and promising not to do it again. If you know what a dipole, entropy or superficial tension is, this book is not for you. It might be great to get a young and interested kid going though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great Bathroom Readers Aug. 27 2001
This book is great, it kept me entertained for hours. Being curious and not having much science training, this book blew the dust of the stuff I learned (or was supposed to learn) in school. It makes you go "A-ha, of course!" a lot. The author is witty and while he probably takes his job seriously he manages keep the book entertaining throughout. The book explains a lot of stuff that you've probably never thought about and/or take for granted, like, why is oil slippery and water is not even if both are liquids. Sure, this may not be interesting to a chemist but to most other people it is. The explanations are usually short, 1 - 2 pages, which makes it perfect for dipping into on the bus or at the doctor's waiting room (or the bathroom). There's even a few things you can try out yourself at home. There's nothing as beautiful as your own private sunset in a glass of water and milk. "What Einstein Didn't Know" is also a great help to me as a dad. It was great to be able to explain what was happening when my 6-year old son commented on the noise the ice cubes made when I put them in his juice (of course, that triggered a lot of other questions which reminded me to buy the sequel). This is one of those that I'll read again some day.
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By Spiff
I bought this book because I thought it would be the perfect reading for a week during some beach vacations. It was a perfect read for the occasion since you can read separate sections that do not have much connection between them. Grab it, read a bit, put it away, do the same later. This is no science book, and reading it will be very, very easy, it will require little of your attention, almost no technical background and well, even little time. Chemists and Physicists, and even engineering students might feel shocked seeing how Wolke simplifies some subjects that are complex enough to have whole books written about it, but you have to remember that this is not at all a technical book. You will learn, but you won't learn much. You will have the illusion of knowledge about heavy stuff like electromagnetism, nuclear fusion, thermodynamics and even the big bang theory and some cosmology.
But don't get me wrong, it you keep that in mind, Wolke has managed to write a very entertaining title that will keep you interested until the end. I have to admit I would drop some of the subjects and would pick other questions. I was a bit annoyed at how many pages Wolke uses talking about fat. A déjà vu feeling often happens. Wolke repeats himself a tad too much for my taste, but it is true that with some subjects it would be hard not to repeat the same facts. Still, Wolk should assume the reader isn't all that dumb and got the basics right the first time, why repeat what was already written. Wolke's sense of humour requires some getting used to. I was annoyed in the first few pages, but eventually grew to like it and it makes the book a lot more fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great books for everyday knowledge Jan. 28 2004
It is winter time in Boston and since I was a kid, I was always curious why people sprinkle salts during the snow. I asked my dad and he told me, it was so "we can walk better with the salt providing some texture on the ground." Well, after reading this book, I now know why my dad is terrible in science. LOL. This book brings up a lot of day-to-day things that we in the Western World take for granted. I admit that I have a deeper appreciation for science and how creative the mind can be. Now I know more about inner working of the events around me. More than that, I feel like I'm smarter, or at least more knowledgeable. Wow. If a book can have that type of impact on me, I have to give it 5 stars.
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