How to Teach Physics to Your Dog: Obsessive Update

i-1e8ca3d6f1057cdc4f9532702467bc29-sm_cover_draft_atom.jpgToday is the first day of classes, and to celebrate, I've come down with the Martian death virus that Kate and SteelyKid have had the last few weeks. Joy.

This calls for a How to Teach Physics to Your Dog update, to distract myself from the cotton balls and vacuum pump oil that have apparently been stuffed into my sinuses:

The primary news is that Peter Woit has posted a review, in which he says mostly good things:

While Brian Greene in his Elegant Universe Nova special introduced general relativity by trying to discuss it with a dog, concluding that "No matter how hard you try, you can't teach physics to a dog", Orzel takes a very different tack, structuring his book around conversations with his dog about quantum mechanics. The dog ends up with a solid intuitive understanding of quantum physics and presumably the idea is that the reader should be able to do as well as the dog. The book is a quite good, non-technical, exposition of some of the paradoxical aspects of quantum mechanics, emphasizing the subtleties of the relationship between the quantum and classical views of reality. His expertise in experimental atomic physics gives him an excellent understanding of these issues, and he does a good job of conveying some of this to the reader.

-- Peter is less kind to Sean Carroll's From Eternity to Here. Coincidentally, I picked Sean's book up on Friday, when visiting a local mall with SteelyKid as part of Operation Preserve Mommy's Sanity. Borders thwarted my latest attempt to see my own book on the shelves in a big-box chain store, but in a good way-- their web service showed at least one copy in store last week, but there were none on Friday. Which means somebody bought the last copy of my book in a big-box chain store, and that's great to see. I hope they re-order soon...

-- In less positive news, there's probably a future number-crunching post in analyzing the slow creep of my sales ranking through the four-digit numbers-- in the last week, it's drifted back to a current ranking between 5,000 and 6,000, but it was as high as 8,000 overnight.

This isn't bad in any absolute sense, but it's kind of sad to watch, after three days in the three-digit range. Having seen it crack the top 400, nothing else will do. I need some way to get back into the three digits-- Stephen Colbert, have me on your show!

-- In travel/ appearance news, I will be in Austin, TX, next week for something else, but since travel between Albany and Austin is slooow, I'll have a little extra time for possible book promotion Thursday night and Friday through lunchtime. My publicist is going to look into setting something up, but if you happen to be in the Austin area (or, better yet, happen to run a bookstore or media outlet in the Austin area) and have suggestions of book-promoting things I should do, send email to, and I'll pass it along.

And that's what I've got so far. I'm also working on book promotion stuff in Washington DC in early February (where I'll be giving a talk at UMD on the 4th), and am happy to talk about other possibilities. There are other reviews and so on in the pipeline, but they haven't shown up yet. You can be sure I'll post links when they do, though.

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Has Amazon been playing the price game with your book yet, or is it too new? If you put something in your Amazon basket and save it for later, the price will fluctuate, and you can see the changes each time you look at your cart. For an awful lot of goods, including books, Amazon is constantly tweaking the price, up by 0.25, down by 0.15, up by 0.95, down by 1.04. I have no idea of what is going on. Is it some kind of arbitrage? Could I be making money by buying and selling at propitious times? Is it correlated with the sales rank? If it is correlated, is it a classical or quantum correlation? If you aren't wasting enough time staring at Amazon, here's another great time sink.