How to Teach Physics to Your Dog Chad Orzel. Scribner, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4165-7228-2
What do dog treats and chasing squirrels have to do with quantum mechanics? Much more than you might imagine, as Orzel explains in this fun introduction to modern physics based on a "series of conversations" with his dog Emmy. Dogs make the perfect sounding board for physics talk, because they "approach the world with fewer preconceptions than humans, and always expect the unexpected." Physicist Orzel begins with the basics, explaining how light can be both particle and wave simultaneously--a bit like a dog that can split itself into two to chase a rabbit no matter which direction it runs. A look at Heisenberg's uncertainty principle begins with a hunt for a hypothetical bone. SchrÃ¶dinger's cat becomes, of course, SchrÃ¶dinger's dog. Quantum entanglement, quantum teleportation and virtual particles (composed, for example, of bunny-antibunny pairs) are all explained with the author's characteristic lighthearted touch. While Orzel's presentation may be a bit too precious for some, readers who've shied away from popular treatments of physics in the past may find his cheerful discussion a real treat.
(I feel faintly guilty about quoting the whole thing, but really, it's one paragraph...)
My reaction: "Woo-hoo!" I mean, look at the competition. Yeah, Rebecca Skloot got a starred review for her book, but she's an established and award-winning science writer, while I'm a jackass with a website... I'm psyched just to be worthy of their notice, and the fact that they said nice things about the book is just gravy.
(No, I haven't been checking PW obsessively. My publisher mentioned it on Twitter, otherwise I never would've known...)
Schroedinger's DOG? I thought Emmy approved of putting cats in boxes!