A physicist explains daily phenomena from the mundane to the magisterial.
Take a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster?
Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you’re interested in what makes the universe tick. In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski provides the tools to alter the way we see everything around us by linking ordinary objects and occurrences, like popcorn popping, coffee stains, and fridge magnets, to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative medical testing. She guides us through the principles of gases (“Explosions in the kitchen are generally considered a bad idea. But just occasionally a small one can produce something delicious”); gravity (drop some raisins in a bottle of carbonated lemonade and watch the whoosh of bubbles and the dancing raisins at the bottom bumping into each other); size (Czerski explains the action of the water molecules that cause the crime-scene stain left by a puddle of dried coffee); and time (why it takes so long for ketchup to come out of a bottle).
Along the way, she provides answers to vexing questions: How does water travel from the roots of a redwood tree to its crown? How do ducks keep their feet warm when walking on ice? Why does milk, when added to tea, look like billowing storm clouds? In an engaging voice at once warm and witty, Czerski shares her stunning breadth of knowledge to lift the veil of familiarity from the ordinary. You may never look at your toaster the same way.
About the Author
Helen Czerski is a physicist at University College London’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a science presenter for BBC. She writes a monthly column for BBC Focus magazine called “Everyday Science” that was shortlisted for a Professional Publishers Association award.
Excellent....an ideal gift for any scientifically inquisitive person, including children or adults who retain a child's sense of wonder. Robert Hooke would have loved it. — John Gribbin - The Wall Street Journal
Czerski entertainingly mixes reports of her anyone-can-do-this experiments with serious questions about the world in which we live. — Booklist
Storm in a Teacup is a course in physics, but it’s less like a classroom than a long walk with a patient, charming, and very, very learned friend. Czerski has a remarkable knack for finding scientific wonders under every rock, alongside every raindrop, and inside every grain of sand.
— Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
A delightful book on the joys and universality of physics. Czerski brings our humdrum everyday world to life, showing us that it is just as fascinating as anything that can be seen by the Hubble Telescope or created at the large Hadron Collider. — Jim Al-Khalili, author of Life on the Edge
This book is charming, accessible and enthusiastic. Helen invites you in to see the world through her eyes and understand how a physicist think. It’s a wonderful way to discover the hidden scientific connections behind the ordinary and everyday. — Hannah Fry, author of The Mathematics of Love
In an age when any questions we have about the workings of the world are instantly answerable via Google, physicist Czerski pushes us to resist the search engine....why not learn some simple physics so that you can try to puzzle things out for yourself? — Scientific American
[Czerski’s] quest to enhance humanity’s everyday scientific literacy is timely and imperative. — Science
Helen Czerski’s engaging debut book seeks to demystify physics in everyday life, so whether you know your refraction from your reflection, or find the entire subject incomprehensible, this should be an invaluable primer. — The Guardian
Czerski [is] a thoughtful educator who has done her homework....Genuinely informative. — Kirkus Reviews