The Physics of Everyday Things | James Kakalios

Summary of: The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day
By: James Kakalios

Introduction

Imagine a world where you comprehend the mechanics behind your most routinely used gadgets and devices. In ‘The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day’, author James Kakalios explores the remarkable science that governs our daily lives. From the alarm on your smartphone to noise-canceling headphones, you will discover the magic of physics that operates ceaselessly around you. The book delves into the principles of conservation of energy, electromagnetism, and the fascinating workings of various home appliances, communication systems, and transportation methods.

Physics Rules Everyday Life

James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota and author of The Physics of Superheroes, shows how physics principles apply to everyday objects such as engines, smartphones, and headphones. Though not delving too deeply into the technical details, Kakalios offers a vivid and engaging explanation of the role physics plays in daily life. The book received praise for its lucid and enjoyable explanations from both The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly.

The Physics of Our Daily Lives

Join Kakalios on a physics-rich journey throughout a single day, as he reveals the inner workings of the technology we use every day, from toothbrushes to touch screens.

In “The Physics of Everyday Things,” James Kakalios takes readers on a physics-infused journey through a day in the life. He starts by examining the technology we rely on each morning, from the electromagnetic waves used by our smartphones to the energy conversion principles at work in our coffee makers.

Kakalios delves into the science behind the batteries in our toothbrushes, explaining how transformers and alternating currents work together to keep our devices charged. He also explores the mechanics of the internal combustion engine and the technology behind GPS navigation and E-ZPass tollbooths.

Moving on to our wireless devices, Kakalios explains how radio waves keep us connected to the internet and how digital signals can transmit enormous amounts of data with little interference. The author also takes a closer look at medical technology, discussing how ultrasound can detect anomalies in our bodies and why touchscreens won’t work with gloves.

Throughout the book, Kakalios emphasizes the principle of conservation of energy, which governs all aspects of our daily lives. He also highlights the basics of electromagnetism, demonstrating how electrical currents create magnetic fields and vice versa.

Kakalios explores the physics behind noise-canceling headphones, illustrating how sound waves can be converted into electrical voltages and back again to cancel out incoming ambient sound waves. He also describes how photodiodes in camera pixels capture light and match colors based on the wavelength of the light.

From the lift created by airplane wings to the microwaves used in airport body scanners, “The Physics of Everyday Things” offers readers an in-depth look at the physics that underlies the technology we use every day, both old and new. Kakalios makes complex scientific concepts accessible and engaging, making this book perfect for anyone interested in the science behind our daily lives.

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