Why did it have to be physics?

Tom Levenson has a new book, The Hunt for Vulcan:…And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe, and it’s getting interesting and positive reviews. I’ve also got two flights coming up at the end of this week, so I need something tasty to read.

But it’s physics. There are a heck of a lot of good physics books coming out all the time — one of my colleagues here at UMM, Chrissy Kolaya, also has a new book, Charmed Particles: A Novel, also about physics, wouldn’t you know it. I’ll have to read both, I think.

But people! Don’t you know that developmental biology is the most interesting subject in the universe?


  1. shouldbeworking says

    Could you suggest an interesting book on developmental biology that a humble high school physics teacher could read over the winter break?

  2. robro says

    Hmmm…sounds like a challenging project for someone with knowledge of developmental biology and also happens to be a good writer. Know anyone?

  3. latveriandiplomat says

    Well, I don’t know if this will help inspire something, but developmental biology plays a role in many classic horror movies, thinking of Rosemary’s Baby, Alien, The Midwich Cuckoos, etc.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    shouldbeworking @1: You could try this. It caught my interest for a minute, until I realized that the author wasn’t the physicist Sean M. Carroll, but some other bloke.

  5. golkarian says

    But “Life Unfolding” by Jamie Davies just came out last year (although I haven’t finished it yet). A suggestion for shouldbeworking.

    A little unfair to compare all the books in physics to all the books in a specific field of biology.

  6. barbaz says

    But people! Don’t you know that developmental biology is the most interesting subject in the universe?

    Write a book then!

  7. says


    Don’t you know that developmental biology is the most interesting subject in the universe?

    I thought you once said developmental biology was the second most interesting subject in the universe. Right after the Kardashians.

  8. bachfiend says

    Hmmm… Bought ‘the Hunt for Vulcan’ this morning. I’ve just finished it. It isn’t a good read. It’s an excellent read. I think that there’s only one error I can see – the author claims that a body in free fall is in uniform motion, acceleration free (actually, once acceleration ceases, because the body has reached terminal velocity due to air resistance, it’s no longer in free fall and regains weight). What should I read now?

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    bachfiend @9: I haven’t read the book, but what you describe sounds like the equivalence principle. The point is that a freely falling body (neglecting air resistance) doesn’t experience acceleration (i.e. you would feel weightless). Its motion is certainly not uniform with respect to the Earth’s surface, but it defines the general relativity equivalent of uniform motion in special relativity; a local inertial frame of reference.

  10. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    Developmental biology is fascinating, but it’s also kind of stomach churning. It’s all meaty and mucousy and… blerrrgh. Quarks aren’t like that. Oh, sure, they’re fizzy and weird and make you think there’s probably something fundamentally wrong with the universe, but they play nice!
    I’ll be the one admiring from a distance, with a distinctively green tinge to my face.

  11. schini says

    … biology is the most interesting subject in the universe …

    How do you know that?
    Would’nt you have to be, well, you know, a physicist, to know “teh universe”?
    (or are there other ways of knowing :-))

  12. dogfightwithdogma says

    Rob Grigjanis at @4

    That “some other bloke” as you refer to him is a renowned scientist in his own right. Sean B. Carroll is a professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.