Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

by Richard A. Muller
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A San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller

We live in complicated, dangerous times. Present and future presidents need to know if North Korea's nascent nuclear capability is a genuine threat to the West, if biochemical weapons are likely to be developed by terrorists, if there are viable alternatives to fossil fuels that should be nurtured and supported by the government, if private companies should be allowed to lead the way on space exploration, and what the actual facts are about the worsening threats from climate change. This is "must-have" information for all presidents—and citizens—of the twenty-first century.

Winner of the 2009 Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393337112
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/21/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 257,072
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the best-selling author of Physics for Future Presidents. For his outstanding work in experimental cosmology, he was awarded a 1982 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and also a share of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the discovery of dark energy.

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From the Publisher

"Should be required reading for all informed citizens, as well as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain." —-Publishers Weekly

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Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
like the read. Downloaded the nook version but it did not come with the "Figures" referred to in the text. Very annoying! But still like the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm always looking for the facts behind political options when it comes to real problems were facing in your country. I likes this book because he gave a fairly unbiased opinion on a lot of the options that people are proposing the then followed everything up with solid math. And if he feels like he needs to give him personal opinion on a subject he warns you before he does it so you don't take those particular words as fact. I thought it was a good read to help me decide which political options are actually going to do something and which just sound like they will. I'm not too techy so it was a bit of a stuggle to get through some of the math, but frankly, you can skip the equations and still get the point. Smart Read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To appreciate this book, it must be read with an unbiased mindset. Any discussion about US energy policy needs to use an equally unbiased understanding of physics. This book provides one approach for addressing this current issue.
GeoffB More than 1 year ago
Are you worried about terrorists with "dirty" bombs? Wondering why we don't have solar powered cars despite decades of experimental versions showing up on magazine covers? Do you think nuclear power plants are unsafe and "safe" nuclear waste disposal is impossible? Do you wonder why we can't find a good, inexpensive alternative to petroleum and other fossil fuels? A primer on the physics behind several of the issues the new President and his administration will have to deal with (or put off dealing with), including fossil fuels, alternative energy, nuclear power and weapons, bioterrorism, and so on. What I found absolutely fascinating about the book was the extent to which popular notions about many of the topics are wrong, and because they are wrong, we tend to misallocate not only our hopes and fears, but our money as well. The book was as much a page-turner for me as any thriller. I stayed up late and got up early to keep reading, the "ah-ha!" moments coming one on top of the other. I can only hope that someone in the President's administration, if not the President himself, has read this. Even if they don't, anyone who votes certainly should.
brianclegg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I see a book title that is so brilliant that I can't help feel (as a writer) 'I wish I'd thought of that.' This is just such a title. It's a brilliant concept - the physics any decent US president really ought to know to be able to make the decisions that face him or her.What's more, the contents live up to the title. Physics professor Richard A. Muller delivers some real surprises, separating what many of us think we know from reality. In five sections, handling terrorism, energy, 'nukes', space and global warming he delivers some devastating truths, putting across information that it's hard to believe any president has really grasped - yet it's so important that they do.I don't want to go into too much detail - read the book - but, for example, in the terrorism section he points out that petrol (and aviation fuel) has more energy per tonne than TNT. This was why the Twin Towers came down on 9/11 - not because of the impact of the planes, but the energy released by the burning fuel. Each section uses the main theme as a starting point, but then pulls in other ideas. So, for example, while the space theme has plenty about the fact that manned spaceflight is not undertaken for scientific reasons (he argues strongly against it, encouraging much more unmanned space work), he also covers the use of gravity for remote detection, and the use of non-visible light (infra-red, radar etc.) in intelligence gathering.One small gripe and one big one. The small gripe is that it's a shame there isn't a European edition of the book. Muller has used US units throughout, rather than scientific units (Fahrenheit temperatures instead of Celsius, for instance), which is ideal for the target audience of would-be US presidents, but less helpful over here. The big one is I think there is one big section missing - pure physics. It doesn't really come through that there's any need to do physics without an immediate application. In the past this has meant passing the crown for nuclear physics from the US, with the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider, to Europe with the Large Hadron Collider (due to go live days after this review was written) - future presidents should understand the implications of not putting money into such valuable research.All in all, without doubt, both the best concept I've seen in ages and an excellent fulfilment of the promise of the title.
allenEv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the book to read to be informed about the scientific issues that confront Obama. From terrorism to environmental disaster Mr. Muller, a physics professor at UC Berkeley, explains the science behind the headlines and the options that a president will have available to choose from. So far Obama has stumbled by closing down the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Now there really is no solution for nuclear waste, but what to do with all those spent fuel rods ...Watch for Ocean Acidification to be the next environmental battle cry to hit the headlines.Richard Muller for Science Advisor!
madcurrin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Easily the best non-scientist's science book I have ever read. Accessible, interesting, thought provoking and relevant. Plus a great conceit that never lets up - the author addresses the President right to the very last page. Highly, highly recommended, especially as a follow up to anyone who's recently read more depressing books like The World Without Us (which I also recommend.) But if I were to own only one single science book, this would be it.
knitbusy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What information does a president of the United States really need to know to make informed decisions about some of the most important issues we are facing as a nation and as a global community? Richard Muller believes that some of this knowledge should be an understanding of the basic principles of physics. I loved the format of this book. Muller writes this book as though the reader was the next president of the United States. The book applies basic physics to a better understanding of five key areas: terrorism, energy, nukes, space, and global warming. I found this book to be truly enlightening. Almost daily I am bombarded by news stories featuring the challenges we are facing in at least one of these areas. Muller presents the facts, in a fair and balanced manner (honestly, I really can't tell which political party he favors) , allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. For example, Muller explores why the greatest threats we face from terrorists are not "dirty bombs" or stolen nuclear weapons, and why solar powered cars are not really feasible, at least with our current technology. Personally, I was especially intrigued by the section on global warming, and I felt that this section alone would have justified the purchase price of the book. In each section he also presents a brief historical perspective with an emphasis on the physics involved in each situation. I was totally fascinated by his exploration of the facts surrounding the anthrax attacks which followed the 911 attacks. Muller's writing style is pleasantly conversational, almost as though you were having a discussion with your own personal science advisor. He also strikes the right balance between simplifying the physics to the level of easy understanding without insulting the intelligence of the reader. I enjoyed this book so much that I lent the copy I borrowed from our local library to my husband, who promptly purchased a copy midway through reading the book. This was a great read, and one that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, even to our current president.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sample is amazing and taught me more than I learn in school in a month Really enjoyed it
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JustinAL More than 1 year ago
How wonderful. This combination of physics and current issues; using physics to addresses the issues. The reader needn't have a background wrought of physics, if you have some the book will be all the more fun. This was published 2 years ago, so you will find, if you read this today, it seems prophetic at times. Explanations of why it is easier for a terrorist to us gasoline--Times Square, for example. Well written, good information with exemplary information with physics-backed validity but explained for the rest of us to get.
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