Writers’ Gallery

Our Writers' Gallery features short pieces about physics by authors who are both renowned physicists and prize-winning writers. Some of these are original contributions and others are excerpts from longer works. Many are linked to more information about the authors and their work.

 

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The Fifth Postulate

Many mathematicians since the time of Euclid attempted to solve a seemingly simple problem about parallel lines without success. Yet the success of their failures would reveal a whole new geometry and description of space and time.


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Insatiable Birdie

Can a book inspire you as a child to grow up and solve one of the most famous mysteries of mathematics? Come take a peek inside Physics for Entertainment to find out. Originally published over seventy years ago in Russia, this classic book answers many fascinating questions that one might not even think are physics questions. “Can an invisible man see? Why are all cats grey when the candles are out?” The excerpt below explains the habits or our beloved drinking bird toy.


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Death From the Skies

Philip Plait

"The Universe is trying to kill you. It's nothing personal. It's trying to kill me too" Astronomer, Phil Plait, describes how everything from asteroids to gamma ray burst would end impact the Earth.


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Celebrating the Poetry of Imagination Without Boundaries

Lawrence M. Krauss

There is poetry in physics discoveries that is worth celebrating, even if one is not a cosmologist.


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A Mind Can Be Open Without Being Empty: Thoughts on the Skepticism of Scientists

James Trefil

Is the scientific community really closed to ideas from the lonely genius? Do the historical stories of Galileo and Wegener really show that we are willing to listen only to our own?


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The Map is Not the Territory*

Hans Christian von Baeyer

My uncle Karl had no sense of direction. Armed with an elaborate set of instructions and a street map of downtown Montreal, he would gamely set off on an errand, and we children would gleefully brace ourselves for the next development.