Friday, January 25, 2008

New book profile: Brainteaser Physics

New Book Profile

Title: Brainteaser Physics: Challenging Physics Puzzlers (QC75.G75 2007: New Book shelf)
Author: Goran Grimvall
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Year: 2007
162 pages

A columnist in a Swedish journal for engineers has published 57 puzzles to challenge physicists and students of physics. By the author's own admission, some puzzles are classics and others are new twists on old themes. Puzzles span from novice level to those that "may baffle even a physics professor" (p. 55). According to the preface, some knowledge of mathematics is assumed for many of the brainteasers.

The puzzles incorporate real world examples, as well as other disciplines such as literature. The baffling puzzle mentioned above involves a passage from a novel by Kurt Vonnegut. Solutions are provided for each problem, complete with illustrations and mathematical equations when necessary.

An excellent component of the book is the Further Reading section included at the end. Articles from the American Journal of Physics, European Journal of Physics, Physics Education, and The Physics Teacher correspond to individual problems. These references should help students correlate the puzzles to work of physicists. In this vein, Grimvall states that one purpose of these brainteasers is to provide a view of "how physicists think." (p. vii)

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