Physics on the Fringe by Margaret Wertheim
Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything

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Synopsis

For the past fifteen years, acclaimed science writer Margaret Wertheim has been collecting the works of "outsider physicists," many without formal training and all convinced that they have found true alternative theories of the universe. Jim Carter, the Einstein of outsiders, has developed his own complete theory of matter and energy and gravity that he demonstrates with experiments in his backyard,-with garbage cans and a disco fog machine he makes smoke rings to test his ideas about atoms. Captivated by the imaginative power of his theories and his resolutely DIY attitude, Wertheim has been following Carter's progress for the past decade. Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation. Today, theoretical physics has become mathematically inscrutable, accessible only to an elite few. In rejecting this abstraction, outsider theorists insist that nature speaks a language we can all understand. Through a profoundly human profile of Jim Carter, Wertheim's exploration of the bizarre world of fringe physics challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for.
 

About Margaret Wertheim

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Margaret Wertheim is a science writer with degrees in physics and matchematics. She has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian, and is the author of Pythagoras' Trousers and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. In her pioneering work in new methods of science communication, she founded the nonprofit Institute For Figuring, through which she organized the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, a touring exhibition at the intersection of science and art.
 
Published November 1, 2011 by Walker Books. 336 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Physics on the Fringe

Kirkus Reviews

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Maverick science writer Wertheim (A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space, 2005, etc.) challenges the right of the scientific establishment to lay claim to the position of gatekeepers of truth.

Jul 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

Publishers Weekly

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NASA’s brief Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project even hoped to exploit outsider ideas, whereas the complex wonderland of mainstream string theories seems to echo the work of fringe theorists.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

BC Books

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"I have come to think of this as the “cosmological problem.” Traditionally, the purpose of cosmology was to embed a people in a world—what happens to a society when its official cosmology becomes one that 99 percent of its population does not understand and very likely cannot ever hope to compreh...

Sep 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

BC Books

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Author Margaret Wertheim puts Jim’s work into a broad historical context, seamlessly presenting the impetus for this kind of work, and indeed the sheer magnitude of the effort that underpins it.

Sep 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

The Wall Street Journal

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Or will both circlon theory and string theory go the way of phrenology, phlogiston, and the steady-state theory of the universe on the scrapheap of science history?

Dec 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Bound into the center of Margaret Wertheim's fascinating, bizarre, and provocative new book is a garish, text-strewn poster which the trained eye immediately and reliably identifies as the work of fabled outsider artist Paul Laffoley, renowned for his mingling of dense blocks of prose with patter...

Nov 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

The Sydney Morning Herald

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Apr 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Captivated by the imaginative power of his theories and his resolutely DIY attitude, Wertheim has been following Carter's progress for the past decade.Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation.

Dec 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

Book Forum

For fifteen years, science writer Margaret Wertheim has been collecting alternative theories of the universe.

Mar 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke ...

Reader Rating for Physics on the Fringe
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