The Physics of Everyday Things | James Kakalios

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


Ever wondered about the science behind the devices and technologies you use daily? In ‘The Physics of Everyday Things’, James Kakalios uncovers the extraordinary physics that governs familiar objects and experiences. From the workings of your smartphone alarm to the wonders of GPS systems, the principles of energy conservation and electromagnetism play an essential role in your day-to-day life. Gain an appreciation of these concepts as the book travels through a single day’s events, demystifying complex ideas in an engaging manner.

The Physics of Everyday Life

James Kakalios, author of The Physics of Superheroes, explains how everyday gadgets and devices, from engines to smartphones to noise-canceling headphones, operate according to the principles of physics. While not delving too deeply into the science behind his explanations, Kakalios shows readers how physics plays a constant role in our lives, offering lucid explanations of the technology we encounter daily. The Wall Street Journal calls it a “vivid compendium of digestible science lessons,” and Publishers Weekly praises the book for its ability to generate “pleasurable ‘Aha!’ moments” as readers discover the connections between physics and the technology they use every day.

The Everyday Physics of Our Lives

From the alarm on our smartphones to the photodiodes in our cameras, James Kakalios reveals the pervasive presence of physics in our daily lives.

Have you ever stopped to think about how the gadgets and devices we use every day work? In “The Physics of Everyday Things,” author James Kakalios breaks down complex concepts from the world of physics into easily digestible nuggets of knowledge. He draws our attention to the fascinating ways in which physics shapes our daily routine.

Kakalios begins with the electromagnetic waves that power our alarms and coffee makers, explaining how the principle of conservation of energy governs all aspects of our lives. He delves into the mechanics of batteries and transformers, detailing how they power our toothbrushes and other devices.

When it comes to transportation, Kakalios is just as enlightening. He walks us through the inner workings of the internal combustion engine and explains how our GPS systems connect to satellites in space. We learn how our E-ZPass devices communicate with tollbooth receivers, and how our wireless devices connect to routers via radio waves.

Kakalios also explores the world of touch screens, revealing the ingenious design behind these ubiquitous interfaces. He explains the difference between resistive and capacitive touch screens and why the latter won’t work if we wear gloves.

Throughout the book, Kakalios peppers his explanations with interesting tidbits about the science behind our favorite gadgets. We learn, for example, that airport body scanners use microwaves that are weaker than those in a microwave oven. We also discover how photodiodes in our cameras use light to create precise images that match colors based on the wavelength of that light.

Kakalios has a gift for making complex information accessible and engaging for readers of all ages, and “The Physics of Everyday Things” is no exception. By the end of the book, you’ll have a new appreciation for the physics that makes modern life possible.

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