Surrounded by Physics

This book is the result of a series of lectures that the author gave during a number of years to first year students in Applied Physics at Delft University of Technology. The idea for such a course started from discussions with our students. They made a plea for an extra physics course in the first year to get a better balance in the math and physics courses. Their wish was granted and the author was asked to prepair a series of lectures with as theme ‘Physics of Daily Life’. This idea was of course inspired by the series of books that Prof. Dr. M. Minnaert wrote in the 30s of the 20th century. It should not be a course, that deals with only one of the main theories of physics. On the contrary, the idea was rather to stroll along all kinds of more or less familiar phenomena. By touching on these phenomena, different parts of physics and the accompanying theory would be discussed with the students. Being exposed to phenomena and open questions and being encouraged to think as a physicist was more important than providing the theoretical background along the traditional lines of the sub-disciplines and theories of physics.

Various aspects from daily life were chosen for the examples. For instance: what is the thickness of our atmosphere and can we make an estimate based on common knowledge? Or, what is the temperature of the earth without the greenhouse effect? Many more examples were in subsequent years discussed. They are taken from the visible phenomena in the atmosphere, from sound, from the kitchen or from sports, to name a few. In the book they are grouped in six chapters.

Contents: 1. Elephant ears, dolphin fins and the balance equation 2. The sky has a limit 3. The sound in a cup of coffee 4. Flowing water and air 5. Cooking, boiling, heating 6. Mechanics at work Bibliography Index.

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