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Physics in your life

Physics in your life

Why exactly did the apocryphal apple fall on Isaac Newton’s head? That’s what Newton wondered, and set out to discover why. Many of us wonder in the same way about why things happen, but don’t have time to dedicate our lives to getting to the bottom of it. Most of us don’t have a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator in our garden shed. Here’s a course for armchair physicists around the world who want to be told how it all works by people who have done all the hard thinking.


In Physics in Your Life, a DVD course of lectures by Professor Richard Wolfson, curious souls will discover why flight works, what light is, why magnetism is real rather than a weird magic force out of Harry Potter, why bicycles stay upright most of the time when being ridden, how transistors and superconductors work, and the physics of what makes computers work things out for you and then save the results in a random folder you’ll never find.


Physics in Your Life is part of The Great Courses series, and like the rest of the series it pitches the materials at the level of the curious amateur. Professor Wolfson described it as a non-mathematical course in which ‘seeing is believing’. ‘My approach is entirely qualitative,’ he says. ‘I believe you can understand physics, and understand it deeply, without using mathematics.’


‘A born showman’, Professor Wilson comes across as the lively high school science teacher who blows stuff up in front of his students to prove a physical principle. He uses an array of props, gadgets, computer animations, experiments and diagrams to crowbar laypeople’s heads open and cram in the knowledge. The course consists of six modules, each of which treats a specific realm of physical phenomena. The realms are: Sight & Sound, Going Places, Plug in, Turn On, From Atom to Computer. And Fire and Ice.


Safety goggles are not included, but fascination is.