1st Edition

From Atoms to Galaxies A Conceptual Physics Approach to Scientific Awareness

By Sadri Hassani Copyright 2010
    756 Pages 342 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    754 Pages 342 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

     From Atoms to Galaxies: A Conceptual Physics Approach to Scientific Awareness teaches heightened scientific acuity as it educates students about the physical world and gives them answers to questions large and small. Written by Sadri Hassani, the author of several mathematical physics textbooks, this work covers the essentials of modern physics, in a way that is as thorough as it is compelling and accessible.

    Some of you might want to know
    . . . How did Galileo come to think about the first law of motion?
    . . . Did Newton actually discover gravity by way of an apple and an accident?
    Or maybe you have mulled over
    . . . Is it possible for Santa Claus to deliver all his toys?
    . . . Is it possible to prove that Elvis does not visit Graceland every midnight?
    Or perhaps you’ve even wondered …
    . . . If ancient Taoism really parallels modern physics?
    . . . If psychoanalysis can actually be called a science?
    . . . How it is that some philosophies of science may imply that a 650-year-old woman can give birth to a child?

    No Advanced Mathematics Required
    A primary textbook for undergraduate students not majoring in physics, From Atoms to Galaxies examines physical laws and their consequences from a conceptual perspective that requires no advanced mathematics. It explains quantum physics, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, gauge theory, quantum field theory, quarks and leptons, and cosmology. Encouraging students to subscribe to proven causation rather than dramatic speculation, the book:

    • Defines the often obscured difference between science and technology, discussing how this confusion taints both common culture and academic rigor
    • Explores the various philosophies of science, demonstrating how errors in our understanding of scientific principles can adversely impact scientific awareness
    • Exposes how pseudoscience and New Age mysticism advance unproven conjectures as dangerous alternatives to proven science

    Based on courses taught by the author for over 15 years, this textbook has been developed to raise the scientific awareness of the untrained reader who lacks a technical or mathematical background. To accomplish this, the book lays the foundation of the laws that govern our universe in a nontechnical way, emphasizing topics that excite the mind, namely those taken from modern physics, and exposing the abuses made of them by the New Age gurus and other mystagogues. It outlines the methods developed by physicists for the scientific investigation of nature, and contrasts them with those developed by the outsiders who claim to be the owners of scientific methodology. Each chapter includes essays, which use the material developed in that chapter to debunk misconceptions, clarify the nature of science, and explore the history of physics as it relates to the development of ideas. Noting the damage incurred by confusing science and technology, the book strives to help the reader to emphatically demarcate the two, while clearly demonstrating that science is the only element capable of advancing technology.

    Science Kindles
    The Beginning
    Early Greek Astronomy
    The Age of Measurement
    The Geocentric Model
    Wonder of Ancient Greece
    End-of-Chapter Material

    A Dark Interlude
    Roman Civilization: ca BC–ca AD
    Entertainment in the Roman Empire
    Religion in the Roman Empire
    Education in the Roman Empire
    The Aftermath
    A Lesson From the Past
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Science Rekindles
    Renaissance and the Copernican Revolution
    New Observations: 15 Centuries After Ptolemy
    The Fall of the Spherical Dynasty
    End-of-Chapter Material

    From Heaven to Earth
    The Ancient Physics
    Galileo’s Study of Motion
    Rectilinear Motion
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: Underdetermination?
    Lessons From Astronomy
    Birth of Scientific Methodology
    The Role of Mathematics

    Kinematics: Describing Motion
    Position, Displacement, and Distance
    Velocity and Speed
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Dynamics: Cause of Motion
    The First Law of Motion
    The Second Law of Motion
    The Third Law of Motion
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Further Topics on Motion
    Work and Energy
    Rigid Body Motion
    Mechanics of Fluids
    End-of-Chapter Material

    The Universal Law of Gravitation
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: Determinism
    Newton’s Methodology
    Determinism of Newtonian Physics 

    Mechanical Waves
    Interference and Diffraction
    Doppler Effect
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Modern Electrostatics
    Electric Field
    Electric Potential
    Electric Charges in Motion
    Electric Power Transmission
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Magnetism and Electricity
    The Compass and the Lodestone
    Magnetism from Electricity
    Faraday’s Lines of Force
    Electricity From Magnetism
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Electromagnetic Waves
    Fields Are Primary
    Maxwell Corrects the Fourth Equation
    Maxwell Predicts Electromagnetic Waves
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: Mind & Matter
    Specificity and Idealization
    Role of the Mind
    Materiality of Fields
    Support for Pure Research

    Introduction to Probability
    Basic Concepts
    Distribution Plots
    The Law of Large Numbers
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Statistical Mechanics
    Ideal Gas Law
    Most Probable Configuration
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Temperature and Heat
    The First Law of Thermodynamics
    The Second Law of Thermodynamics
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: Whole & Parts
    Specificity and Idealization
    A Case for Fundamentalism
    Thermodynamics and Social Imagery

    Birth of Quantum Theory
    Black Body Radiation
    Quanta Are Born
    Photoelectric Effect
    End-of-Chapter Material

    The Atoms
    Modern Atomic Theory
    Dissecting Atoms
    Bohr Model of the H-Atom
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Quantum Theory I
    Electrons as Waves
    Quantum Mechanics
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Quantum Theory II
    Quantum Tunneling
    The Double-Slit Experiment
    Angular Momentum and Spin
    Quantum Measurement
    Quantum Entanglement
    Quantum Technology
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: No Interpretation
    Role of Fundamentalism
    Induction Versus Deduction
    No Interpretation for Quantum Theory

    Birth of Relativity
    Law of Addition of Velocities
    Principles of STR
    Relativity of Simultaneity
    Relativity of Length
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Relativity of Time and Space
    Time Dilation
    Length Contraction
    The Twin Paradox
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Spacetime Geometry
    Events and Worldlines
    Space Transformation
    Spacetime Distance
    Rules of Spacetime Geometry
    Curved Worldlines
    End-of-Chapter Material

    E = mc2
    Coordinate Velocity
    Spacetime Velocity
    Spacetime Momentum
    Conservation of Momentum
    End-of-Chapter Material

    General Theory of Relativity
    The Equivalence Principle
    Consequences of Equivalence Principle
    Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity
    GTR and the Universe
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: No Marketplace
    Use/Creation of Mathematics
    Induction Versus Deduction

    On the Experimental Front
    The Nucleon
    Nuclear Reactions
    The Emergence of Particle Physics
    End-of-Chapter Material

    On the Theoretical Front
    Mathematical Prediction of Antimatter
    Quantum Electrodynamics (QED)
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Classifying Particles and Forces
    Spacetime Symmetry: Mathematical Poetry I
    End-of-Chapter Material

    The Standard Model
    Gauge Theory: Mathematical Poetry III
    Electroweak Interaction
    Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD)
    The Standard Model
    Grand Unification
    End-of-Chapter Material

    New Age Physics
    Sins of the Fathers
    Union of Philosophy, Science, and Religion
    Physics-Eastern Thought Parallelism
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: The Eye of Physics
    Modern Experimental Techniques
    Modern Mathematical Techniques
    An Endangered Species?
    Continuity and Specificity of Physics

    Physics of the Cosmos
    The Friedmann Equation
    Matter Dominance
    Radiation Dominance
    Expansion and Olbers’ Paradox
    Echo of the Big Bang
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Early Universe
    Content of the Early Universe
    The Genesis as Told by Physics
    End-of-Chapter Material

    The Last Epoch
    Cosmic Structure Formation
    Problems With Standard Cosmology
    Inflationary Cosmology
    Birth of a Star
    Death of a Star
    End-of-Chapter Material

    Epilogue: The Closing Dialogue

    Misconceptions About Science
    Technology: Application of Science
    Science and Values

    Characteristics of Science
    Science Studies Matter
    Materialistic Philosophy
    Science Trusts Only Observation
    Continuity of Science
    Science Is Detached From the Scientist
    Reductionism and Science
    Commonality of Instrumentation

    Science Versus Pseudoscience
    Some Characteristics of Pseudoscience
    Intelligent Design
    A Project for the Reader

    Answers to Selected Exercises


    Sadri Dean Hassani is a mathematical physicist with interests in theoretical elementary particle physics.

    … present[s] some of the most striking ideas behind physics but also give[s] students and the general public the opportunity of reflecting on the implications of these ideas and provide them with the tools to draw a distinction between scientific fact and nonsense. The book does indeed do what it says on the cover; it presents topics ranging from early Greek astronomy and Newtonian dynamics, passing by electromagnetism and thermodynamics and culminating with quantum theory, relativity and cosmology. … the CD included with the book has lengthier mathematical and numerical examples that supplement the textbook. … The book can be used as an introductory textbook which can work at different levels. I found that the ‘Food For Thought’ sections in the book can be successfully used with students to discuss the topics presented, and the margin annotations that appear all over the book are very helpful. At the end of each chapter there are answers to questions, a glossary, review questions as well as conceptual and numerical exercises. This should provide enough material for teachers or lecturers, both in science and humanities, to narrow the gap between the two cultures.
    Contemporary Physics, Volume 52, Issue 3, 2011

    Intellectually inspirational, comprehensively informational and tangibly consistent in title, substance and organization respectively. … The most distinguishing feature of this unique title is its originality in terms of addressing the scientific phenomena with pragmatic rigor and spirited vigour. … the book demonstratively stands out as one of the most friendly guides for recognising many interconnected strands of natural philosophy which help us understand science in general and physics in particular. … Last but not least, especially for students and instructors, like any other standard textbook the title throughout provides study help by writing and explaining formulas along with explanatory line-drawn figures, other exhibits, conceptual exercises, mathematical notes, numerical and other examples, glossaries, and review questions. … this title is recommended … [for] personal ownership and placement of multiple copies in the libraries respectively.
    —Zia Khan, Reviews, Volume 11, Issue 2, 2010

    I have been teaching introductory physics for non-science majors for a long time and have never been satisfied with the books on the market. Most of these texts are just watered-down versions of the general physics texts for science students. When I read through [these] three books, I really do get a sense that the authors have attempted to create book[s] that [are] somehow different from the normal algebra problem-based texts. I will be using Questioning the Universe: Concepts in Physics this fall for the science portion of a Science Fiction Learning Community. In the spring, I will be teaching a physics/art history hybrid course and will be using either Superstrings and Other Things: A Guide to Physics, Second Edition or From Atoms to Galaxies: A Conceptual Physics Approach to Scientific Awareness. … both are great books. … I really feel that for conceptual physics courses, CRC Press currently has the three strongest titles. I anticipate a fun teaching experience while using these texts and hope to use them again in the future.
    —Steve Zides, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA