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Forces of Nature af Professor Brian Cox
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Forces of Nature (original 2016; udgave 2016)

af Professor Brian Cox (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1364157,074 (4.27)1
Sunday Times Bestseller A breathtaking and beautiful exploration of our planet, this groundbreaking book accompanies the BBC One TV series, providing the deepest answers to the simplest questions. 'What is motion?' 'Why is every snowflake different?' 'Why is life symmetrical?' To answer these and many other questions, Professor Brian Cox uncovers some of the most extraordinary natural events on Earth and in the Universe and beyond. From the immensity of the Universe and the roundness of Earth to the form of every single snowflake, the forces of nature shape everything we see. Pushed to extremes, the results are astonishing. In seeking to understand the everyday world, the colours, structure, behaviour and history of our home, we develop the knowledge and techniques necessary to step beyond the everyday and approach the Universe beyond. Forces of Nature takes you to the great plains of the Serengeti, the volcanoes of Indonesia and the precipitous cliffs in Nepal, to the humpback whales of the Caribbean and the northern lights of the Arctic. Brian will answer questions on Earth that will illuminate our understanding of the Universe. Think you know our planet? Think again.… (mere)
Medlem:FatAustralianStalion
Titel:Forces of Nature
Forfattere:Professor Brian Cox (Forfatter)
Info:William Collins (2016), 288 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Forces of Nature af Brian Cox (2016)

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Viser 4 af 4
This was far less horrible than I expected. Attempts at witticism are cringeworthy but sparse and the literary quotes while abundant are bearable. I've not seen the TV show the book keeps mentioning but going on previous experience it's probably mostly closeups of Brian Cox in gormless wonder. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
I've already written a review of this book....well not quite....because my review was of a paperback version and this is the large hardback colour version of this book designed to accompany a BBC Science Program. As one can gather from my other review, I was not happy with the paperback version. (The diagrams were too small, printing in black and white lost most of the details. So I looked for the "real" version of the book to form a judgement. And, I must confess, it is altogether a much better and very different experience. For a start, there are probably close to 10x the number of illustrations...and many of them quite large. And the addition of full colour makes such a huge difference ....especially with something like the blackbody spectrum ...showing how far the infra red extends (for example). ( )
  booktsunami | Aug 21, 2019 |
I don't remember ever watching the TV series but somewhere I came across this little book that was designed to accompany the BBC TV series with Professor Brian Cox (and in smaller fonts ...Andrew Cohen who was apparently the Executive producer of the BBC Science Unit..and so probably taking the credit here for the toil of many underlings). I only realised after I had bought the paperback book that there is apparently a more lavish hardback book ...which looks like it has the colour plates embedded into the text rather than being gathered together in one section as they are in the paperback. In fact, the paperback version is not good. The diagrams appear to have been lifted from a larger version (maybe with colour in the larger version) but they are generally so small and the printing is so faint that it is hard to read or interpret. So this was disappointing.
However, I persevered and to give credit where it is due, Brian Cox does a workman-like job of bringing some aspects of science to the masses (in this case just me). As he says in the opening chapter ...this book is about science and about asking the sort of questions that a child might ask...and usually doesn't get a satisfactory answer; why is the sky blue? why are stars and planets round? why are plants green? I thought that I had a reasonable grasp on all of these issues but Brian opened my eyes to quite a few new wrinkles or things that I had not thought about. He, most appropriately, starts off with a discussion about snowflakes and symmetry ...leading into chemistry and the fundamental building blocks and forces of nature...the strong force, the weak force, electromagnetism and gravity. And why is the earth round (well more or less round)..it's because gravity is pulling everything inwards towards the centre. And he makes the point...which I had not thought about before, that we can't have really high mountains on earth because the ground under them will not be strong enough to resist the downward pressure. But on Mars you can have very high mountains,...24 km high. And once an object in our solar system gets to be about 600 km across the force of gravity is sufficient to pull it into a spherical shape. The earth is spinning, however, and the spin makes the earth a slightly oblate spheroid. And the snowflake has a hexagonal symmetry because of the angular bonds in the water molecules ..so the shape of the snow crystals is indicative of a deeper structure.
Brian then moves into a discussion of space and time and describes one of Einstein's contributions that you are a rest in an inertial frame of reference if an isolated object is either remaining at rest or continuing in a straight line. And the earth is accelerating towards the sun ...but net effect is it orbits the sun in a elliptical orbit. (Must confess the I've always has a mental difficulty in accepting this idea of accelerating towards the sun...but travelling in a "fixed" elliptical orbit. And the moon (which probably was formed by a collision of the earth with another planet) has a major impact on the earth. Contrary to popular belief, the moon doesn't circle the centre of the earth but a spot about 4,700km from the centre of the earth (which is the centre of mass of the earth/moon system). (The earth has a radius of 6,376 km). And the earth, in turn orbits around this centre of mass in roughly a circle. Because the earth is rotating around this centre of mass (and spinning on it's axis) there is a centrifugal force which counterbalances the pull of the moon's gravity....and it's this centrifugal force which spins the tides out on the side facing away from the moon. And for the side facing (underneath) the moon, the gravitational pull is slightly greater than the gravitational pull at the centre of the earth. So the oceans are pulled towards the moon...and, in fact, the earth's crust is deformed by about 0.5m too.
Maxwell developed his equations relating the electric and magnetic fields where the speed of light enters the equations as a constant. Einstein's brilliance was to take the equations at face value and insist that the speed of light remained constant when we hop between inertial frames of reference. Brian goes on to discuss the familiar issues of measuring time in different frames of reference and discusses the world timeline that we all experience plus "forbidden " zones that are not within our "light cone".
If we take Einstein's theory of relativity at face value, it leads to the idea of the Block Universe. Spacetime can be pictured as a 4D blob over which we move, encountering the events on our world lines as we go. But whilst the theory leads to this it is not necessarily correct.
He now moves on to the question of how did life begin. It seems that the earth formed 4.54 billion years ago and there is good evidence that life had gained a foot hold by 3.5 billion years ago. And living things are made out of simple building blocks. It's chemistry. And chemistry is all about the movement of electrons. We have a bit of a digression here whilst Brian describes the rather macabre experiments around 1800 with corpses and electricity...making the corpses twitch and move.....with some ideas about bringing them back to life.
There is increasing evidence from analysis of ancient zircons that the very young earth was a world of moderate temperatures, stable oceans and familiar air (though oxygen levels were low) and there are some indications that life may have been established 4.1 billion years ago.
But life appears to run contrary to the second law of thermodynamics because living things are highly ordered. Though as Schrodinger pointed out, events within a living system cannot be isolated from their environment . For example if you have a bunch of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen in a box and they spontaneously combine to form water...the water is in a more ordered state than the atoms. So what has happened here? Well whilst the entropy of the system of atoms has been lowered by the chemical reaction, a large amount of energy has also been released, This heat is absorbed into the surroundings ...thus increasing the entropy of the environment by more than the entropy increase associated with the formation of the water molecules. Living things work in the same way.
The energy generating mechanisms used by living things are basically sugar combines with oxygen giving CO2 plus water ...and a wax candle burning is essentially the same sort of reaction. In both cases electrons are transferred from a long chain carbon molecule to oxygen. But with respiration (life) the electron is transferred via a lot of steps (about 15) usually involving iron. The steps are also used in photosynthesis. And all living things store part of the energy in ATP..like batteries. As the electrons are passed down the respiratory chain they are used to pump protons across membranes. For every pair of electron 10 protons are pumped. In the vicinity of the membrane (6 billionths of a m thick), the electric field is 30 million volts per m...roughly like a lightning strike on us. This "waterfall" of protons is used to produce ATP out of two "empty" molecular components known as ADP plus P. All living things seem to use the same system which suggests that this biochemistry is very ancient.
The story then morphs into the familiar discussion about life originating in the under-sea volcanic vents..black smokers and possible hydrogen sulphide chemistry; and white smokers which are not volcanic but result from the reaction of warm water with methane at the ocean floor...and have an alkaline environment.The argument is that one gets a proton gradient between this alkaline environment (with a deficit of protons) and the surrounding seawater's acid environment with a surplus of protons. The argument is that this sets up the conditions needed for photosynthesis or respiration ...with a proton gradient. (Actually, I think one probably gets something like this with the double layer between common clay particles.....and clay lines itself up in nice ordered sheets with regular spacing.......might be worth exploring...). Brian leaves us with the thought that life is really just chemistry and there are some plausible pathways for it to occur spontaneously on the earth.
He then explores the basis of colour and our experience of colour and the formation of the rainbow. In passing he mentions Ibn al-Haytham, who, in the 11th century, was a pretty original researcher....looking for evidence rather than relying on authority....his words about the seeker after truth:..."he should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency". Great! I like it. Other's contributed to the understanding of the formation of the rainbow but it was probably Newton who eventually resolved the issue with a double refraction of white light ..which was composed of all the other visible colours. And so to an an investigation into the origin and nature of light. The energy output of the sun at the top of the earth's atmosphere is 1.41Kw/ square m. in January when the earth is closest to the sun and 1.32 Kw in July when the earth is furtherest away...and the energy output is staggering ...all due to the fusion resulting in an atomic nucleus of one proton and one neutron...it's called a deuteron...Then another proton fuses with the deuteron to form Helium 3 nucleus and two of these fuse together to form a Helium 4 nucleus...with the release of 2 protons.
About this stage, I've just ordered, the larger version of the BBC book. I'll update this review when I receive it but for the moment I'll just continue following Brian Cox as he explains why things shine.
It was Maxwell who realised that light was a travelling disturbance in the electromagnetic field. He saw it as a wave and light has a wavelength...ranging (at least) from 10 to power 8 m (long radio waves) to 10 to power -16 (gamma rays). When electrical charges wiggle they create a changing magnetic field which creates a changing electrical field etc etc. The resulting moving disturbance IS light. The movement suggests a link between temperature and light...but the early models predicted an infinite amount of energy being radiated away from hot objects....obviously not right so Planck proposed another model...crazy but it worked where light could only be emitted in packets. It was Einstein who actually proposed taking the theory seriously and proposed that light is actually composed of little packets (photons)....and even more...that the electromagnetic field is composed of little particles of light.....thus pointing to the deeper structure of quantum theory. Electrically charged particles emit light when they are accelerated....in accord with Maxwell's equations.
Electrons can organise themselves in very specific ways within molecules. If the arrangement of electrons inside a molecule is to be altered then a photon with just the right energy to make the change must be absorbed. Since the energy of a photon is directly related to its colour , a particular molecule will only absorb certain colours of light. In modern language, Rayleigh's formula shows that the probability of a photon to scatter is inversely proportional to the fourth power of its wavelength. This means that blue photos (450nm) are over three times more likely to scatter off gas molecules on their way through than red photons (650nm). That's why we have blue skies during the day and red at dusk.
But why is green the colour of life...the answer is that plants are green because chlorophyll absorbs blue and red photons and the green photons are reflected back into our eyes. Early life probably grabbed their electrons off less stable molecules such as hydrogen sulphide..but at some stage the oxygen evolving complex allowed organisms to replace H2S with the more readily available water. The whole lot was linked together into the Z-scheme (of photosynthesis) which is present in all plants today. His summary of photosynthesis skims over things just a bit too fast. But then, it's incredibly complicated...and probably best left to a specialist book.
Finally he indulges himself with some speculation about life elsewhere in the universe. There is a lot of knowledge packed into this book. And I'll be interested to see how the full sized book handles the message. ( )
  booktsunami | May 29, 2019 |
Again a fascinating book. A bit on the technical side. Full of info. ( )
  Arkrayder | Aug 18, 2018 |
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Sunday Times Bestseller A breathtaking and beautiful exploration of our planet, this groundbreaking book accompanies the BBC One TV series, providing the deepest answers to the simplest questions. 'What is motion?' 'Why is every snowflake different?' 'Why is life symmetrical?' To answer these and many other questions, Professor Brian Cox uncovers some of the most extraordinary natural events on Earth and in the Universe and beyond. From the immensity of the Universe and the roundness of Earth to the form of every single snowflake, the forces of nature shape everything we see. Pushed to extremes, the results are astonishing. In seeking to understand the everyday world, the colours, structure, behaviour and history of our home, we develop the knowledge and techniques necessary to step beyond the everyday and approach the Universe beyond. Forces of Nature takes you to the great plains of the Serengeti, the volcanoes of Indonesia and the precipitous cliffs in Nepal, to the humpback whales of the Caribbean and the northern lights of the Arctic. Brian will answer questions on Earth that will illuminate our understanding of the Universe. Think you know our planet? Think again.

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