The New World of Mr Tompkins
George Gamov's Classic Mr Tomkins in Paperback, By George Gamow, Russell Stannard
|Value for money||8/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||8/10|
An excellent update to a classic introduction to modern physics
My introduction to the world of the mild-mannered bank clerk with an interest in modern Physics came through copies of the original 1940s books rescued from a school library "disposal" pile. Unlike the school librarian I treasured those books, which presented hard science in a humorous, accessible way, and learned a lot from them.
George Gamow brought his original material up to date for "Mr Tompkins in Paperback" shortly before his death in 1968. However, since then Physics has moved on still further, and a new update was appropriate. Russell Stannard took on the challenge, and has done a superb job.
The new version brings both the science and the charming human back story fully up to date, and also addresses some inconsistencies in the earlier text and illustrations caused by their derivation from a group of separate magazine articles.
The books tackles all the main areas of modern Physics, from relativity to particle physics. Each topic is presented by both a serious (but straightforward) lecture text, and also by analogies in a dream experienced by one off the main characters. The two reinforce one another, and should leave the reader with a good basic understanding of all the key concepts. Familiarity with basic arithmetic and elementary concepts of classical physics are the only prerequisites, but the text should also be enjoyable for those with greater background knowledge.
I am very glad to see this classic developed for a new generation, and thoroughly recommend it.