1st Edition

The Music of Physics An Introduction to the Harmonies of Nature

By George N. Gibson Copyright 2024
    318 Pages 5 Color & 161 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    This textbook is written for a very specific purpose and audience: It serves as a breadth requirement for a general education program at the college level for non-science majors. It is also suitable for an introductory course at the high school level. Music is an excellent medium to introduce physics to novice scientists, as it provides an intuitive understanding of the physics of waves. While there are no mathematical derivations in the text, labs are provided to verify every concept and equation. The book is not restricted to purely musical topics. Each topic is carefully chosen to relate to broader principles applicable to other areas of physics or technology. This is not meant to be a highly technical treatise on sound and musical instruments. Rather, it shows deep connections between waves and many areas of modern physics to make the text engaging and relevant to the students.

    1. Waves and the Language of Physics

    2. Melodic Instruments and the Origins of Music and Science

    3. Non-Melodic Instruments: Non-Harmonic and 2-D systems

    4. Waves and Interference

    5. Applications: Feedback and the Doppler Effect

    6. Psychoacoustics: Consonance and Dissonance


    George N. Gibson received his BA in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois, Chicago, after dropping out of graduate school for two years to study piano performance. He is now full professor of physics at the University of Connecticut and his main area of research is fundamental interactions of high-intensity ultrafast lasers with atoms and molecules and ultrafast spectroscopy of biological molecules. Having played the piano his whole life, Dr. Gibson combined his interests in physics, music, and teaching by creating a novel course on physics and music. Dr. Gibson has also presented a public lecture titled "Just What Is the Connection between Physics and Music?" throughout the United States, Canada, and Spain.