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The Physics of the Buffyverseby Jennifer Ouellette
Synopses & Reviews
A fascinating survey of the forces that shape who we are and how we act—from the author of The Calculus Diaries
Following her previous tours through the worlds of physics (Black Bodies and Quantum Cats) and calculus (The Calculus Diaries), acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ouellette now turns her attention to the mysteries of human identity and behavior with Me, Myself, and Why. She draws on genetics, neuroscience, and psychology—enlivened as always with her signature sense of humor and pop-culture references—to explore how we become who we are. Ouellette lets readers in on her own surprising journey of self-discover, as she has her genome sequenced, her brain mapped, her personality typed, and even samples a popular hallucinogen. Bringing together everything from Mendels famous pea plant experiments and mutations in The X-Men to our taste in food and our relationship with avatars and our online selves, Ouellette delivers another fun and enlightening work of popular science thats sure to be enjoyed by her many fans.
"There's science beneath the fantasy in the beloved television series about a teenage girl battling monsters in her California exurb, insists this lightweight pop-science primer. Science writer Ouellette (Black Bodies and Quantum Cats) hopscotches through the fictive world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel to rationalize their outlandish goings-on and mine heuristics that illustrate scientific principles. She compares exotic demons to real animals, draws lessons on Newtonian kinematics from Buffy's kickboxing, susses conservation laws in Buffy's economy of magic and compares Buffy's fight against evil to mankind's doomed struggle against entropy. Many Buffyverse plot devices (teleportation, time loops, alternate dimensions) lead Ouellette to advanced physics concepts (wormholes, relativity, quantum entanglement) that are equally weird and esoteric. Here, unfortunately, the author's sketchy disquisitions fall back on strained metaphors ('Just like the couplings... between the various characters in the Buffyverse, each iteration of string theory is connected to another through various dualities') and opaque analogies ('[i]t's best to think of imaginary time as a direction of time that runs at right angles to real time') that laymen will find as baffling as a runic scroll in a dead language. Too often, Ouellette's treatment comes across the way science does on Buffy — as a breezy, jargon-filled, unenlightening gloss on some fanciful spectacle." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Physics with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer pop-culture chaser
In the tradition of the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ouellette explains fundamental concepts in the physical sciences through examples culled from the hit TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. The weird and wonderful world of the Buffyverse—where the melding of magic and science is an everyday occurrence—provides a fantastical jumping-off point for looking at complex theories of biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics. From surreal vampires, demons, and interdimensional portals to energy conservation, black holes, and string theory, The Physics of the Buffyverse is serious (and palatable) science for the rest of us.
In the tradition of the bestselling "The Physics of Star Trek," an acclaimed science writer explains fundamental concepts in the physical sciences through examples culled from the hit TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spin-off, "Angel."
About the Author
Jennifer Ouellette writes the column“This Month in Physics Histor” for APS News, the monthly publication of the American Physical Society. Her articles have appeared in publications from Discover to Salon.
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