From the author of
The Joy of Pi and
The Flying Book, an engaging new guide to the amazing unseen world around us.
How can we understand the world of the atom or the size of our galaxy? How do we grasp a billionth of a second or a billion years; the freezing point of helium or the heat generated by the blast of an atomic bomb?
Spectrums answers these questions and many more by exploring realms we are familiar with in our daily lives, but whose extremes boggle the mind and inspire a sense of wonder. With relish and insight, Blatner re-introduces us to six fundamental spectrums in the world around us: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Offering fascinating glimpses of hidden realities, full of comparisons, facts, and anecdotes, and illustrated by a wealth of diagrams, photographs, and sidebars,
Spectrums illuminates the full range of the bizarre and beautiful world in which we live.
While the size of the universe can be gauged down to the level of electrons and out to unimaginable distances trillions of light-years away, most of us live within a very narrow, middle-range slice of day-to-day observation. With the aim of enhancing our appreciation for the dimensions we don’t normally perceive, prolific science writer Blatner takes a closer look at six scales of measurement, or spectrums, with which our lives are daily intertwined: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us. In Numbers, for instance, we learn that engineers could not calculate rocket trajectories without imaginary numbers. Light attempts to elucidate the mind-bending paradox that light is both a particle and a wave. Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner’s work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eye-opening and fun. --Carl Hays
“Leavened with wit and colorful anecdotes, each section reveals a wealth of astonishing and quirky details about the world around us….Complete with illustrative charts, photos, and pithy quotes from celebrities as diverse as George Carlin and Max Planck, Blatner''s work is one of those rare nonfiction gems that make learning about science eyeopening and fun.” ―Booklist
“I found myself charmed and, yes, even amazed by some of Mr. Blatner''s examples.” ―Peter Pesic, The Wall Street Journal
Praise for Spectrums
"I love this book! The writing and imagery are beautiful, as is the layout. Blatner is a witty and awesome tour guide to areas beyond our perceptual horizon, from speeds at which hummingbirds fly, to cell phone ring tones too high for adults to hear, to mountains taller than Everest but which begin underwater. This is an indispensable manual if we want to grok--deeply understand--our world."
--Robert P. Crease, Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University, and author of
World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement
"This thoroughly researched book will engage all readers, from curious twelve-year olds to every adult who delights in learning something new. Blatner stretches our imaginations inward toward the infinitesimal and outward toward the infinite--with lots of engaging examples, comparisons, and metaphors. Read it with wonder and awe!"
--Nils Nilsson, Stanford University Kumagai Professor of Engineering (Emeritus), Department of Computer Science
"Spectrums is an eye-opening perspective shift that inspires a richer appreciation of the world around us. The scientist and the faithful will both find awe in these pages."
--Rev. Michael Dowd, author of
Thank God for Evolution
David Blatner is the author of 15 books, translated into 14 languages with over a half-million copies in print, including Spectrums, The Joy of Pi, Real World InDesign, and The Flying Book. As an expert on digital publishing, he has lectured in five continents over the past two decades. He and his wife and two sons live, explore, and write outside Seattle, Washington.