caliban wrote:I'm afraid I don't read popular physics books, because they inevitably devolve to baby talk.
I am now one-quarter into Lisa Randall's Warped Passages
and the baby talk is irritating the hell out of me.
You were warned. Although I haven't read it myself. Physics seems the most succeptible to baby talk. As I teach my general education course on Science and Science Fiction, I find my patience sometimes strained by eager students saying, "Umm, you know how you were like talking about quantum physics? All everything is like a force? Do you think that is how martial artists are able to focus all of their energy in a single point, like?" I patiently explain that I think this is an unlikely connection. Student presses me: "But do you think it is possible
?" I try to explain the difference between allowing for possibilities and spending energy on probabilities. It may surprise you to learn that I am remarkably patient--with students, as I am being paid to be patient.
Randall probably just got bad advice from her editor--or good advice for selling books. You can sell books, or you can tell the truth. It's kind of the dilemma for my class, because they whine
that they have to read six books in 15 weeks for my class. Six whole novels! Science fiction novels! That's too much. And this affects the popularity of the class, and while I do not intrinsically care about MY being popular
the whole point of the class is to draw more students and get the department more money. (Each student in class is worth $200 to the department.) So I face the dilemma, which some of you may be old enough to appreciate: Betamax or VHS?
but this is why I don't read popular physics books.