This book is another in the series of Japanese Manga about science, this time introducing Newtonian physics. It has 232 pages, and a four page index. It is written by a physics professor, Hideo Nitta PhD, a professor at Tokyo Gakugei University. His stated purpose in writing the book is to "reach as many readers as possible who think 'physics is tough' and who 'don't like physics.'"
The chapters are cleverly divided into two sections, the first following in a cartoon story a gifted athlete who does poorly in physics, as she learns how a knowledge of physics can improve her tennis game. The second portion of the chapter (usually called The Laboratory) is written in prose, and reviews the lessons learned in the Manga section and adds detail including the relevant equations and graphs. There are no problems given to work through. The book is not a text book.
The four chapters are:
Law of Action and Reaction
Force and Motion
There are brief asides regarding trigonometry, calculus and vector analysis.
The scope of the book primarily involves Newtonian mechanics, and the background you need to understand the topic. Other areas of introductory physics such as electricity, magnetism, wave-particle dualism of matter, and basic atomic theory are not discussed. The index is quite comprehensive.
This book would be helpful to the visual learner, it might also provide insight to a student struggling with non-calculus based introductory physics. For those of us who took physics years ago, enjoyed it, and perhaps have forgotten why we enjoyed it, it provides an entertaining introduction to Newtonian/Galilean mechanics.
I think that this book would be an excellent introduction to physics for teens and adults alike. My initial impression of the book is probably tainted by my previous exposure to physics, which were presented in a complete flat and rigid way compared to the content of this book.
I believe that those who are not already through college undergraduate-level physics would benefit the most from this book. I'm certain that the presentation method is easier to accept and is certainly more interesting for all. I found that the first chapter labored a bit on the lesson, but that subsequent chapters went by rather efficiently. Then there was the "inner-geek" in me who loves continuous mathematics who wanted to argue that the ball-in-hand is not a static state but dynamic, though for the purposes of the book, the explanations were appropriate.
As far as the story goes as presented by the illustrations, I found a bit to dislike. The characters exhibited extremely wide ranges of emotions from seething rage to adoration, sometimes as quickly as within a couple of pages. While this may help boltser the effect of the lesson, I found it distracting and overstated. Of course, my opinion is based on my exposure to this kind of material, and this is a first of such trips into the realm of Japanese manga.
I would strongly like to offer the book to a 15-16 year old who is pre-high school physics and take their reaction as input to this review because I think that we'd have a profound effect compared to handing Cutnell's "Physics" 0471663158 (1088 pages) to a teenager. Interestingly, Cutnell's book also has a tennis racket and ball on the cover :D
In all, the book is a very good piece that is well presented and is interesting to read for its character development and story that convey most of the basics of physics in a unqiue and engaging way.
Perhaps if I was more into Japanese comics, I'd be more inclined to give it a higher rating. It would be a very interesting study to conduct a semester-long pair of physics courses involving high school sophomores where one group gets this book and the other gets a "classical" presentation of the fundamentals. If I were a kid, I'd know which group I'd want to be in for sure!
My understanding of many physics concepts is a bit fuzzy after so many years away from high school and college, so I enjoyed getting a good overview of many of the concepts that are so important to "how things work" in this world.
This is the third in the Manga series from No Starch Press that I've read... Electricity and Statistics are the other two. This one is my favorite, hands down. The story is creative, and the way the writer is able to mix in equations, vector mathematics, and simple yet easy-to-follow illustrations make the book a no-brainer purchase for anyone wanting to re-learn OR for anyone currently studying physics and not quite understanding many of the vague concepts.
Like the other books in the series, the manga/comic storyline is broken up with text-based instructions that help further cement the reader's understanding of the previous manga section they just read... things like a refresher on basic trigonometry are nice... Newton's Laws! Finally I have a little better understanding of how they can be used in real-world situations!
This was a fun book... the story was entertaining and the lessons given were just as useful. I'm looking forward to The Manga Guide to Calculus so I can relearn that subject, too!
Reviewed by Ken Rogers, GCPCUG Member
Should cartoon characters be smarter than their readers? Brilliantly mad scientists and charming absent-minded professors may be stock characters in the comics, but their intellects always seem more fantastic than realistic. A cartoon character with realistic scientific intellect - someone who might remind us of our high school physics teacher, or that lab partner who always seemed one step ahead of you - can too easily remind us of our own intellectual shortcomings, and spoil the casual fun that is at the heart of comics' appeal.
This absence of ordinary genius in comics is what makes Ryota and Megumi, the main characters in The Manga Guide to Physics, so remarkable. The latest in the delightful series of manga technical guides from TREND-PRO and No Starch Press, The Manga Guide to Physics uses a tutor-student relationship to explain complex scientific concepts with real-world examples. Ryota, the tutor, is a schoolboy science whiz who has to be the most unremarkable character I've ever seen in a manga comic. Clean-cut, dressed in a conservative suit and tie, ever polite and reserved - if manga characters were soft drinks, Megumi would be a glass of tepid water. Megumi, the frustrated student-athlete who pleads with Ryota to provide her with physics lessons, is only slightly more colorful - call her a decaffeinated, sugar-free soda.
Both tutor and student are ordinary, but the same cannot be said of their lessons. Make no mistake; The Manga Guide to Physics is a serious work of technical writing. If you don't find vector diagrams and algebraic equations inherently appealing, you'll find this book more than challenging at times. Yet Ryota explains the mysteries of Newton's three laws of motion with the ease of a newscaster reading from a teleprompter, and while Megumi clearly struggles at times she is able to master the material by book's end.
Watching these two unremarkable characters breeze through this remarkably difficult subject could easily be alienating - Ryota could seem aloof and condescending, Megumi annoyingly perky. Yet the relationship that develops between them makes for an appealing story. Ryota awkwardly approaches Megumi after her loss in a tennis match to Sayaka, her rival on the court as well as the classroom. Recognizing and respecting Ryota's knowledge, Megumi politely but forcefully insists that he become her tutor. Ryota feeds off Megumi's eagerness and launches into his fast-paced lessons with confidence. His respect for Megumi's curiosity prevents him from ever talking down to her, and his repeated use of sports analogies shows he understands how best to relate with his student. Megumi's appreciation for Ryota's knowledge and patience keeps her engaged in their lessons, and being the bold one she is the first to acknowledge their mutual attraction. An embarrassed Ryota at first angrily rebukes her observation, but Megumi convinces him to not feel threatened and enjoy their relationship. Ryota and Megumi may indeed be smarter than their readers, but their charming, genuine relationship provides a perfect complement to the technical information provided in the text.
And it bears repeating that The Manga Guide to Physics is a serious, weighty piece of technical writing - Physics for Dummies this is not . While it is certainly no substitute for a physics text, The Manga Guide to Physics is a wonderful introduction to the subject for manga fans with an interest in science.
I'm going to tell you flat out: I hated Physics. How did hatred start? Well, I had never taken a physics class in my life until this semester in college. My pre-med adviser told me to take Physics with Calculus since Universities will see that I challenged myself. I was like: Sure, I like Calc, and people say that Physics is all math, right? Wrong! Okay not completely wrong, but if you don't understand the basic concepts of physics you're kinda screwed. And my professor explained the concepts POORLY by just putting a billion derivations of formulas via calculus and expecting us how to apply it in problems. Then I take my first test, which I BOMBED! I am a 4.0 student and I studied my butt off for this test and got a 55. O_O So yeah, I really started to hate physics.
Then as I was browsing online for physics prep books I came across this little book. My eyes couldn't believe it, cuz I ADORE manga, and decided to see if this book could fill in the missing links that my professor didn't explain. Luckily I found this badboy at my library and read the whole thing in a day, and I was like: So that's what my professor has been trying to tell me! It gave real world situations, which help me understand more. And I love the art. A real eyeopener. I was even ahead of the class when we got to the topic of momentum. It is such a good book and I recommended to my friend who is in my class, but he just laughed at me (he doesn't read mangas or comics, so he doesn't appreciate). It helped me on my second test and I got an 83: Not the best grade but when you start out with a 55, then 83 is a blessing. In any case, I have a test tomorrow, and although some of the stuff isn't in the book (according to the author he had to cut out a chapter) There is still plenty of stuff that is helping me study, and I hope to get higher.
Bottom Line?: Buy it or see if your library (or one in your county) has the book. Even if you don't read comics, it is an easy read and it helps you understand the basic concepts of physics. I'm recommending it to my friend who is taking this class next semester and she loves mangas as much as I do, and I am sure this will help her. After reading this book, I kinda like physics, not the class, but the stuff behind it. It is rather interesting.