The New World of Mr Tompkins: George Gamow's Classic Mr Tompkins in Paperback (英語) ハードカバー – 1999/9/16
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Mr Tompkins is back! The mild-mannered bank clerk with the short attention span and vivid imagination has inspired, charmed and informed young and old alike since the publication of the hugely successful Mr Tompkins in Paperback (by George Gamow) in 1965. In this 1999 book, he returns in a new set of adventures exploring the extreme edges of the universe - the smallest, the largest, the fastest, the farthest. Through his experiences and his dreams, you are there at Mr Tompkins' shoulder watching and taking part in the merry dance of cosmic mysteries: Einstein's relativity, bizarre effects near light-speed, the birth and death of the universe, black holes, quarks, space warps and antimatter, the fuzzy world of the quantum, and that ultimate cosmic mystery of all … love. This text is revised, updated and expanded by best-selling popular-science author Russell Stannard (who wrote the much-acclaimed Uncle Albert series of books for children).
'The best just got better. Two of the most influential popular science books ever were Mr Tompkins in Wonderland (1940) and Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom (1945) … They were brought together in one volume, slightly updated, and reprinted in 1965 as Mr Tompkins in Paperback … Russell Stannard, the very best writer of science books for young readers [has updated Mr Tompkins] with immense care and subtlety, rearranging the text, adding new material and changing a word or two where necessary … I had two fears - that my remembered delight in the original would be destroyed by looking at it through more mature eyes, and that Stannard might spoil the book. Both were unfounded. There is a certain period charm about the original, but Stannard has improved on both the physics and the narrative … It is absolutely the best place to get a feel for the most important scientific ideas of the twentieth century.' John Gribbin, The Independent
'… as I kept reading, I began to realize that Stannard had actually done a remarkable job of preserving the mood and feeling of the original … The book still has a charming naiveté, and although the illustrations have been changed, they too still have that same, almost Victorian quality. So, to my surprise, I have to pronounce the translation a success. If newcomers who have not seen the original read the book, they will find a charming, whimsical introduction to modern physics … Are there other good books that cover the same material? Lots of them! Is there another book that does it so pleasantly, giving the reader a direct, sort of inside view of otherwise very remote phenomena, all within the context of a running short novel? I doubt it! The New World … is a unique book.' Physics Today
'… here is a version that Stannard believes Gamow himself might have written, had he been at work today. Physics took a giant leap at the junction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries … the book deals very well with the more recent developments and Mr Tompkins' visit to a particle accelerator is well described. Stannard has also updated the language, where appropriate. This has been a successful exercise that Gamow … would have liked. I can recommend the book both for general readers, and for specialists who may like to check how their subject is being presented to Mr Tompkins today.' Physics World
'A new version of the Mr Tompkins' adventures, revised and updated by Russell Stannard, brings the experiences into modern day. A welcome addition to the original.' Astronomy Now
'For more than five decades the fictional Mr Tompkins has helped familiarize people with many esoteric concepts of physics. Russell Stannard … has brought George Gamow's Mr Tompkins into atomic physics and cosmology but has kept the British flair.' Sky and Telescope
'For more than five decades the fictional Mr Tompkins has helped familiarize people with many esoteric concepts of physics. Russell Stannard … has brought George Gamow's Mr Tompkins in atomic physics and cosmology but has kept the British flair.' Sky and Telescope
'Russell Stannard is a brilliant communicator.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
From reviews of Mr Tompkins in Paperback: 'Enthusiastically recommended to both scientific and general readers.' The Guardian
'Not only entertaining; the ordinary reader can learn from it a great deal about sub-atomic particles - electrons, neutrons and the rest - and the strange rules which govern their behaviour.' The Observer
'Will vastly fascinate the whimsical, and is also entirely scientific.' Scientific American
Generally, the layout takes the following form. One chapter will contain a lecture by the professor. While the next chapter will contain Mr. Tompkin's dream, where he is in a fantastic land where the theory from the lecture is demonstrated. For example, in an early chapter, we find Mr. Tompkins in a land where the speed of light is only 25 miles per hour, and where bicycle riders appear to be flattened, when viewed by bystanders on the sidewalk. In another chapter, we find Maud and the professor inside a glass of a beverage, watching molecules of water whiz by, bumping into microscopic chunks of barley, and admiring the orderly array of water molecules in a nearby ice cube. This particular chapter illustrates Maxwell's Demon, and teaches the second law of thermodynamics. Maxwell's Demon can best be explained, or supplemented, by a Maxwell's Demon computer game that is easily accessed for free on the internet. It consists of fast-moving red dots and slow-moving blue dots, distributed evenly inside a rectangular box. The operator (your child) can operate a gate that separates the two halves of the box, eventually resulting in all the fast dots being located in one side, and the slow dots in the other side.
The book is best read to children by an adult who has taken college physics and is able to explain the stories. Now, if only there could be another Mr. Tompkins storybook that illustrates Newtonian physics. FIVE STARS.
Much of the material in the first few chapters is available in books like Epstein's Relativity Visualized, which I highly recommend. I really like the last three chapters, which were added to the book. The chapters on how particle accelerators work and on elementary particles were very good. The later was a very insightful treatment on how the particles got their properties. Very well done. Also liked the chapter on space curvature. A reference might be good here on non-euclidean geometry, or naybe a reference to Abbott's Flatland or Ian Stewart's Flatterland, although they aren't on non-euclidean geometry.
The introduction of fictional characters in the Tompkins book is quite useful and helpful. It somehow makes the facts more appealing. That alone perhaps encouraged me to read it from cover to cover. It softened the material at appropriate times rather than keep it on a hard track.
The book had some trouble with the Andromeda Galaxy. In two places it had the distance wrong and in disagreement with one another. 800K ly (circa 1950s value) and 1M ly (not sure where that came from). I believe the accepted value is 2M ly. In one place it called the galaxy The Great Andromeda Nebula. It's not a nebula.