In easy-to-follow conversational language, this book reveals the mysteries of physics and tells about the physicists who made it possible, from the discovery of the laws of gravity by Isaac Newton and the construction of the first electric battery by Alessandro Volta, to the present century's development of solid-state electronics, nuclear arms and nuclear reactors, lasers, etc. The evolution of physics during four centuries is related in sixteen conversations that actually took place between the author, a professor of physics, and his wife, an intelligent listener not familiar with the subject. By asking questions and interjecting her own observations, she insists on sufficient clarity in the presentation so as to make the somewhat difficult seeming topics clearly understandable.
Each breakfast topic can be read separately in less time than it takes to eat the meal. Anyone who has avoided studying physics so far, for whatever reason, (and this includes the author's wife) will gain an insight into what physics is and what physicists do. This book may also serve to refresh the understanding of those who have forgotten what they may have learned or who previously failed to fully grasp the subject. A glossary of commonly used terms at the back of the book provides a convenient reference to most of the concepts presented.
Contents: Introduction: What Keeps Us Going?: Physicists, and Other People; Breakfasts: Hard Boiled Eggs with Inertia: How It All Began — with Rolling Balls; Eggs Bene-Bricked: What Keeps the Ball Rolling?; Apple-Gravity Pancakes: Why Does an Apple Fall from a Tree?; Cereal and Calories: But It Takes Energy to Keep Moving; Hot Cakes with Energy: How Hot is it?; Putting Heat to Work; French Toast: You Can't Win; Nor Can You Break Even; Cold Cuts: Go Fly a Kite; Storing Electricity; Blueberry Muffins: Electricity in Matter; a.c./d.c.; Apple Fritters and Love: Magnetic Forces; Magnetic Fields; What Maxwell Wrought; Eggs and Crisp Bacon: Making Waves; What Waves Can Do; Oat Meal with Light Cream: What is Light?; How and What We See; It's a Colorful World; Lox and Bagels: What's the Speed of Light?; Is It Really Relative?; The Paradoxes of Relativity and Black Holes; Farina: Does Anyone Believe in Quanta?; What About Atoms?; Danish Pastry: What's a Wave Function?; Born and Heisenberg have the Answer; Waffles: Atoms can be Fun; What Attracts Atoms to Each Other?; O J, Donuts, and Coffee: Surrounded by Fluids; We Depend on Solids; Rice Crispies: Who's Afraid of Radioactivity?; What's Inside the Nucleus?; For Better or for Worse — Nuclear Energy; Our Nuclear Legacy; Corn Fritters: A Mess of Particles; What, More Conservation Laws?; Quarks and More Quarks; The GUTS of Physics; Epilogue: What Lies Ahead?: Searching for a Beginning; Symmetry and Chaos; What's Left?