Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 530s

537: The Path of No Resistance by Bruce Schechter

DDC_537

537.623: Schechter, Bruce. The Path of No Resistance: The Story of the Revolution in Superconductivity. New York: Touchstone, 1990. 185 pp. ISBN 0-6716-9599-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 537: Electricity and electronics
  • 537.6: Electrodynamics and thermoelectricity
  • 537.62: Electric conductivity and resistance
  • 537.623: Superconductivity

Alright, first a primer on superconductivity: When electricity flows down a wire, some of the flow is lost due to the resistance of the material. The opposite of resistance is conductance. Superconductivity occurs when a material is cooled to such a ridiculously low temperature that the near-absence of heat allows electricity to flow without loss. The temperature at which this happens is called the critical temperature. High-temperature superconductivity physics seeks to find materials that allows for superconductivity at a critical temperature above 77 kelvins. Everybody with me so far? Good. Here we go.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

539: Cracking the Quantum Code of the Universe by John Moffatt

DDC_539

539.721: Moffatt, John. Cracking the Quantum Code of the Universe: The Hunt for the Higgs Boson. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 181 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-91552-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 539: Modern physics
  • 539.7: Atomic and nuclear physics
  • 539.72: Particle physics and ionizing radiation
  • 539.721: Specific kinds of subatomic particles

John Moffatt’s Cracking the Particle Code of the Universe is a history of particle up to the discovery of the Higgs boson. First theorized in 1964, it took nearly 50 years and a $9 billion particle accelerator to generate enough particle collisions and data to verify its existence. From what I understood (and I don’t claim to have understood everything in this book), Higgs particles are associated with Higgs fields, which are the very reason fundamental particles have mass and why the weak force and weaker than the electromagnetic force. On July 4, 2012, researchers at CERN announced that they had enough proof of its existence. At a mass of 125 GeV, it had all the properties that had been mathematically constructed a half-century earlier. And science finally had another piece of its puzzle.

Read the rest of this entry »

538: Fatal Attraction by Patricia Fara

DDC_538

538: Fara, Patricia. Fatal Attraction: Magnetic Mysteries of the Enlightenment. New York: MJF Books, 2005. 196 pp. ISBN 1-8404-6632-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 538: Magnetism

Patricia Fara’s Fatal Attraction covers the lives and work of Edmond Halley, Gowin Knight, and Franz Mesmer. Each contributed in significant ways to the world’s understanding of physics and magnetism. Enlightenment science was a bawdy, haphazard, and thrilling investigation into the world around them. You needed a fair amount of capital to buy equipment and run scientific experiments, so many of the first scientists were titled gentlemen. These folks paved the way for every scientist that came after them, and while some of their theories may have been a bit off the mark, they did what every scientist does: they asked a question of the universe and then set about trying to find the answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

536: Four Laws That Drive the Universe by Peter Atkins

DDC_536

536.71: Atkins, Peter. Four Laws That Drive the Universe. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. 124 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-923236-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 536: Heat
  • 536.7: Thermodynamics
  • 536.71: Theories

Peter Atkins’s Four Laws That Drive the Universe is a exploration of the fundamental concepts that make up the current laws of thermodynamics. There are four laws, and their purpose is to define the nature of heat, energy, and entropy in the universe as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

530: Time Reborn by Lee Smolin

DDC_530

530.12: Smolin, Lee. Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 273 pp. ISBN 978-0-547-51172-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 530: Physics
  • 530.1: Theories and mathematical physics
  • 530.12: Quantum mechanics

Time is both everywhere and nowhere. It is force we deal with everyday in a metaphysical sense as well as a phantom object. In the physics world, it has no real definition aside from what other theories and variables give it. After Einstein’s theories, it became relative; what was perceived as a certain time to one person could be different to another. Lee Smolin’s Time Reborn seeks to wrestle the relative and vanishing concept of time away from the quantum mechanical model and give it a physical presence in the universe. He wants to make time real.

Read the rest of this entry »

531: The Lightness of Being by Frank Wilczek

531.1: Wilczek, Frank. The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces. New York: Basic Books, 2010. 220 pp. ISBN 978-0-465-01895-6.

When the folks at Dewey put out the 22nd edition, they probably didn’t foresee the eventual prominence of special relativity, quantum electrodynamics (QED), or quantum chromodynamics (QCD). There’s not really a place for books on those subjects. But, since they all try in some to solve different aspects of classical mechanics, they fit into 531.

If I devoted the rest of my natural (and unnatural) life to study of quantum physics, I might be within an order of magnitude (one-tenth) of what Frank Wilczek has forgotten about it. A pioneer of quantum chromodynamics in the 1970s and winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, Wilczek, in The Lightness of Being, tries to take intensely complicated ideas such as gluon fields and supersymmetry and make them understandable to the lay person. For the most part, he succeeds (the mere fact that I could remember what those were called without opening the book is a feat in and of itself). Wilczek walks the reader through the history (and even some pre-history) of quantum physics, stopping along the way to talk about the current theoreticians and their (inevitably) quirky personalities.

Read the rest of this entry »