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Description

Lewis Carroll Epstein explains deep ideas in physics in an easy-to-understand way. Thinking Physics is a perfect beginner’s guide to an amazingly wide range of physics-related questions. The book targets topics that science teachers and students spend time wondering about, like wing lift. Epstein elucidates the familiar but misunderstood — such as how tides work — along with more obscure but fascinating phenomena like the “Bernoulli sub” and the “artificial aurora” created by hydrogen bombs. Broken into many short sections and peppered with Epstein’s own playful hand-drawn illustrations, the book does not simply give the right answer: It also goes into the answers that seem right but are wrong and shows why they are wrong — a rarity in science books. Thinking Physics is a rigorously correct, lighthearted, and cleverly designed Q and A book for physicists of all ages.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
131 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Robert Baxter
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic physics in Q&A format, but requires immediate editing with extreme prejudice
Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2016
The physics Q&A format is marvelous. I look forward to sitting down with my kids when they''re old enough to understand the easy stuff, and later on when they can tackle the harder ones. I truly loved working my way through this book. However. If you... See more
The physics Q&A format is marvelous. I look forward to sitting down with my kids when they''re old enough to understand the easy stuff, and later on when they can tackle the harder ones. I truly loved working my way through this book.

However.

If you purchase this book, do yourself a massive favor and immediately cut out and throw away the 20 or so sheets following the index. Do not look at, do not read these when you do so. A brilliant book is enormously tarnished by the author''s non-physics, off-topic crazy-person rant at the end. Trust me, you don''t want to read it, as it will affect how you perceive the actual physics content of the book. I wish I had never seen it - it knocked a six star book down to three and made it much harder to recommend to others.
22 people found this helpful
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Ryan Henderson Pilat
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Watch out for the unhinged political rant
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2017
I''ve enjoyed reading the lessons, and I appreciate that the author''s approach is not the same as a standard textbook. I''m posting this rating as a warning about the unhinged and incoherent political rant published after the index. It has absolutely nothing to do with... See more
I''ve enjoyed reading the lessons, and I appreciate that the author''s approach is not the same as a standard textbook. I''m posting this rating as a warning about the unhinged and incoherent political rant published after the index. It has absolutely nothing to do with physics, and I found most of it to be offensive, incomprehensible, or both. Regardless of whether or not you might agree with the author''s poorly thought-out political ramblings, it certainly doesn''t belong in this book. It''s a shame, because the fact that it''s in there would prevent me from buying or recommending this book to students who might otherwise enjoy it. My advice is to skip this one. Or, if you do get it, follow the suggestion I saw on another reviewer''s posting and rip out the garbage at the end.
18 people found this helpful
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Diana W.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My 14 yo son LOVES this book!
Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2018
I got this as a Valentines gift for my 14 yo son (8th grade). He’s really into STEM subjects. He loves this book - he’s commented on it at least 3 times in the couple weeks after receiving it. He really likes the way it’s laid out question and answer. If you have anyone... See more
I got this as a Valentines gift for my 14 yo son (8th grade). He’s really into STEM subjects. He loves this book - he’s commented on it at least 3 times in the couple weeks after receiving it. He really likes the way it’s laid out question and answer. If you have anyone who’s curious about the sciences, I highly recommend!
7 people found this helpful
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G. D.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book for personal and classroom use!
Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2016
I intend to use this in my classes for the upcoming year both with my 8th graders as well as senior students many of the questions not only make students think but can also be used to identify misconceptions. The font is nice and big and the drawings are a plus I try to get... See more
I intend to use this in my classes for the upcoming year both with my 8th graders as well as senior students many of the questions not only make students think but can also be used to identify misconceptions. The font is nice and big and the drawings are a plus I try to get my students to sketch their questions before they attempt them so this is lovely. I will just say it would have nice if all the scenarios were in S.I units but as I recognise this is written for an american audience it''s not a big deal it will just give my students a chance to practice unit conversions!
9 people found this helpful
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Anthony
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great.
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2017
This book is really fantastic. I got it so I could be introduced to physics before I took it and feel it has gotten my mind into the right place for the class. I''ll update if anything changes but I feel this was adequate to start off at the base level. I''m very happy and... See more
This book is really fantastic. I got it so I could be introduced to physics before I took it and feel it has gotten my mind into the right place for the class. I''ll update if anything changes but I feel this was adequate to start off at the base level. I''m very happy and would buy again.
6 people found this helpful
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Jenny P
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best Physics Book Ever
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2020
I used to use this as a supplementary text book when I taught high school science - now using to supplement home schooling for 4th and 6th graders. Questions are thought provoking, lead to great concepts teaching. Unbelievable how this book can be used from 4th grade to... See more
I used to use this as a supplementary text book when I taught high school science - now using to supplement home schooling for 4th and 6th graders. Questions are thought provoking, lead to great concepts teaching. Unbelievable how this book can be used from 4th grade to high school/college and be appropriate for all. If you really want a fundamental understanding of how things actually work with clever intriguing problems that will hook you in - this book can not be beat.
One person found this helpful
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EMC2
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is a great book that will test/help your understanding of some little ...
Reviewed in the United States on December 28, 2016
This is a great book that will test/help your understanding of some little details of physics. The problems are tricky in that they there are some subtle physics understandings involved in finding the correct solution. Added attraction is the author gives you multiple... See more
This is a great book that will test/help your understanding of some little details of physics. The problems are tricky in that they there are some subtle physics understandings involved in finding the correct solution. Added attraction is the author gives you multiple choices - may of which "seem" like they could be the right answer.
4 people found this helpful
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Brian Jo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Should be forced on every high school student
Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2009
Every so often I pick up a book that I wish I read 10 years ago. Feynman''s Lectures on Physics and Van Hess''s Thermodynamics are among these, as well as Polya''s How To Solve It for those more mathematically inclined. These would have certainly saved me from much confusion... See more
Every so often I pick up a book that I wish I read 10 years ago. Feynman''s Lectures on Physics and Van Hess''s Thermodynamics are among these, as well as Polya''s How To Solve It for those more mathematically inclined. These would have certainly saved me from much confusion during my college engineering curriculum, for they focus on teaching the material to the reader, as opposed to masking it in the equations of a textbook. Some lucky folks have the ability to glance at equations and immediately grasp their meaning; for the other 99.99% of us, an intuitive explanation replete with real-world analogies helps to bring the meaning to life.

With a presentation both unique and entertaining, Lewis Carroll Epstein''s Thinking Physics has certainly claimed a rightful seat at the roundtable of wonderful didactic books. Every page poses a question that challenges the reader on his view of the physical world, and nearly every answer tears down the fallacies of his intuition. Socrates would have been proud of the format, with each new question expanding on concepts developed in earlier answers. One of the 1-star reviews mentioned a lack of organization. This criticism completely misses the point. It is NOT a textbook, so "obviously" it will lack some of the rigorous development of concepts and precise organization that you would expect in a physics text. It IS a popular physics book with lots of cartoony pictures that a kid in elementary school could both enjoy and understand. At the same time, the insights will help build anyone''s physics intuition, regardless of age. I read this book when I was 30. I have since started going through problems in Kleppner and Kolenkow and some other more advanced texts, and I really think this book helped.
53 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

A. J. Cuthbertson
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Physics from first principles
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 25, 2012
For anyone who wants to get clear on the basics, through to some of the underlying understanding needed for success at A level (UK), this book takes an appealing ''what do you think, first?'' approach. There''s no need to read what others have described as the ''rant'' that...See more
For anyone who wants to get clear on the basics, through to some of the underlying understanding needed for success at A level (UK), this book takes an appealing ''what do you think, first?'' approach. There''s no need to read what others have described as the ''rant'' that follows the physics.
4 people found this helpful
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Cronan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
the book gives true understanding I can''t recommend it enough for just about everybody
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 3, 2016
No rote learning here, the book gives true understanding I can''t recommend it enough for just about everybody. Not complicated but hugely insightful.
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Hugh Janus
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Deep intuition from start to finish
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2007
I struggle to find a category of person to whom one should not recommend this book. People with very little background in physics will find it excellent as a simple to follow and illuminating lay description of most of the branches of the subject (including relativity and...See more
I struggle to find a category of person to whom one should not recommend this book. People with very little background in physics will find it excellent as a simple to follow and illuminating lay description of most of the branches of the subject (including relativity and QM to some extent), all the while testing their understanding through non-mathematical yet entirely non-obvious multiple choice questions. Those studying physics at high school or college level are of course unlikely to learn many new concepts, but will benefit greatly from the intuitive presentation of ideas that are very often delivered in purely mathematical form in formal education. The questions will prove useful for these students too, since they encourage intuitive thinking about the subject and are also often of the style encountered in oral examinations. Epstein for some reason chose to include a political rant about how all of the world''s ills can be directly attributed to people who don''t study science at university. This section is utterly ridiculous and completely unnecessary and portrays Epstein as an embittered old sod. My advice would be to tear out these pages and enjoy the book for the wonderful educational physics text it is supposed to be.
9 people found this helpful
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LifeBringer
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Near Identical to the 2nd Edition, save your money, get Relatively Illustrated instead.
Reviewed in Canada on November 20, 2019
Excellent book, I had the second edition, looked around for an Errata to confirm the changes between the 2nd and 3rd before purchase. I pulled the trigger regardless since the 2nd edition was a wonderful read. After receiving the book, I compared the editions and found no...See more
Excellent book, I had the second edition, looked around for an Errata to confirm the changes between the 2nd and 3rd before purchase. I pulled the trigger regardless since the 2nd edition was a wonderful read. After receiving the book, I compared the editions and found no difference in the core content. The only real difference is the opinion piece at the end of the 3rd edition. The opinion piece doesn''t really add anything to the content. Save your money for relativity illustrated instead. Thanks to the author for an excellent read regardless. :-)
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Bala ganesh akasapu
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
quality of the book is awesome and i love the book it explains all the ...
Reviewed in India on April 21, 2017
quality of the book is awesome and i love the book it explains all the real life examples its like a sci fi novel for physics lovers like me Thankyou amazon to let me dream big and read all the books i love and i hope more such foreign books available for india
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