Synopses & Reviews
Wouldn't it be great if there were a physics book that showed you how things work instead of telling you how? Finally, with Head First Physics, there is. This comprehensive book takes the stress out of learning mechanics and practical physics by providing a fun and engaging experience, especially for students who "just don't get it."
Head First Physics offers a format that's rich in visuals and full of activities, including pictures, illustrations, puzzles, stories, and quizzes -- a mixed-media style proven to stimulate learning and retention. One look will convince you: This isn't mere theory, this is physics brought to life through real-world scenarios, simple experiments, and hypothetical projects. Head First Physics is perfect for anyone who's intrigued by how things work in the natural world.
You'll quickly discover that physics isn't a dry subject. It's all about the world we live in, encompassing everything from falling objects and speeding cars, to conservation of energy and gravity and weightlessness, and orbital behavior. This book:
- Helps you think like a physicist so you can understand why things really work the way they do
- Gives you relevant examples so you can fully grasp the principles before moving on to more complex concepts
- Designed to be used as a supplement study guide for the College Board's Advanced Placement Physics B Exam
- Introduces principles for the purpose of solving real-world problems, not memorization
- Teaches you how to measure, observe, calculate -- and yes -- how to do the math
- Covers scientific notation, SI units, vectors, motion, momentum conservation, Newton's Laws, energy conservation, weight and mass, gravitation and orbits, circular motion and simple harmonic motion, and much more
If "Myth Busters" and other TV programs make you curious about our physical world -- or if you're a student forced to take a physics course -- now you can pursue the subject without the dread of boredom or the fear that it will be over your head. Head First Physics comes to rescue with an innovative, engaging, and inspirational way to learn physics!
Utilizing puzzles, stories, and interviews, this textbook draws readers in and encourages participation to make physics fun. Lang explains why things really work the way they do, and covers everything from bungee jumping to wireless networks.
About the Author
Heather Lang has a physics degree, a PhD in the grey area between biochemistry and physics, and international caps at both chess and cricket. She has a great interest in educational and coaching methods and has run after-school chess clubs for a number of years, bringing many complete beginners on to national and international level.
Heather has been able to transfer many of these successful methods across to her book Head First Physics. She is also the co-author of the Babar Particle Physics Teaching Package (Manchester University Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1999) and joint first author of a 2002 Nature Immunology paper with a lot of jargon and some pretty pictures in it.
Table of Contents
Advance Praise for Head First Physics; Praise for other Head First academic titles; Praise for the Head First Approach; ; Author of Head First Physics; How to Use this Book: Intro; Who is this book for?; We know what you're thinking; We know what your brain is thinking; Metacognition: thinking about thinking; Here's what WE did:; Here's what YOU can do to bend your brain into submission; Read Me; The technical review team; Acknowledgments; Safari® Books Online; Chapter 1: Think Like a Physicist: In the beginning ...; 1.1 Physics is the world around you; 1.2 You can get a feel for what's happening by being a part of it; 1.3 Use your intuition to look for 'special points'; 1.4 The center of the earth is a special point; 1.5 Ask yourself "What am I ALREADY doing as I reach the special point?"; 1.6 Where you're at - and what happens next?; 1.7 Now put it all together; 1.8 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 2: Making it all MEAN Something: Units and measurements; 2.1 It's the best music player ever, and you're part of the team!; 2.2 So you get on with measuring the myPod case; 2.3 When the myPod case comes back from the factory...; 2.4 ...it's waaay too big!; 2.5 There aren't any UNITS on the blueprint; 2.6 You'll use SI units in this book (and in your class); 2.7 You use conversion factors to change units; 2.8 You can write a conversion factor as a fraction; 2.9 Now you can use the conversion factor to update the blueprint; 2.10 You just converted the units for the entire blueprint!; 2.11 But there's STILL a problem ...; 2.12 What to do with numbers that have waaaay too many digits to be usable; 2.13 How many digits of your measurements look significant?; 2.14 Generally, you should round your answers to three significant digits; 2.15 Is it OK to round the myPod blueprint to three significant digits?; 2.16 You ALREADY intuitively rounded your original myPod measurements!; 2.17 Any measurement you make has an error (or uncertainty) associated with it; 2.18 The error on your original measurements should propagate through to your converted blueprint; 2.19 Right! Time to attack the blueprint again!; 2.20 STOP!! Before you hit send, do your answers SUCK?!; 2.21 You nailed it!; 2.22 When you write down a measurement, you need the right number of significant digits; 2.23 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 3: Scientific Notation, Area, and Volume: All numbers great and small; 3.1 A messy college dorm room; 3.2 So how long before things go really bad?; 3.3 Power notation helps you multiply by the same number over and over; 3.4 Your calculator displays big numbers using scientific notation; 3.5 Scientific notation uses powers of 10 to write down long numbers; 3.6 Scientific notation helps you with small numbers as well; 3.7 You'll often need to work with area or volume; 3.8 Look up facts in a book (or table of information); 3.9 Prefixes help with numbers outside your comfort zone; 3.10 Scientific notation helps you to do calculations with large and small numbers; 3.11 The guys have it all worked out; 3.12 200,000,000 meters cubed bugs after only 16 hours is totally the wrong size of answer!; 3.13 Be careful converting units of area or volume; 3.14 So the bugs won't take over ... unless the guys sleep in!; 3.15 Question Clinic: The "Converting units of area or volume" Question; 3.16 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 4: Equations and Graphs: Learning the lingo; 4.1 The new version of the Break Neck Pizza website is nearly ready to go live ...; 4.2 ...but you need to work out how to give the customer their delivery time; 4.3 If you write the delivery time as an equation, you can see what's going on; 4.4 Use variables to keep your equation general; 4.5 You need to work out Alex's cycling time; 4.6 When you design an experiment, think about what might go wrong!; 4.7 OK - time to recap where you're at...; 4.8 Conduct an experiment to find out Alex's speed; 4.9 Write down your results... in a table; 4.10 Use the table of distances and times to work out Alex's speed; 4.11 Random errors mean that results will be spread out; 4.12 A graph is the best way of taking an average of ALL your results; 4.13 Use a graph to show Alex's time for ANY distance; 4.14 The line on the graph is your best estimate for how long Alex takes to cycle ANY distance; 4.15 You can see Alex's speed from the steepness of the distance-time graph; 4.16 Alex's speed is the slope of the distance-time graph; 4.17 Now work out Alex's average speed from your graph; 4.18 You need an equation for Alex's time to give to the web guys; 4.19 Rearrange the equation to say "Δ time = something"; 4.20 Use your equation to work out the time it takes Alex to reach each house; 4.21 So you do a test run with the website ...; 4.22 So just convert the units, and you're all set...right?; 4.23 Include the cooking time in your equation; 4.24 The Break Neck website goes live, and the customers love it!; 4.25 A few weeks later, you hear from Break Neck again; 4.26 A graph lets you see the difference the stop lights made; 4.27 The stop lights change Alex's average speed; 4.28 Add on two minutes per stop light to give the customer a maximum delivery time ...; 4.29 ...the customers are extremely happy ...; 4.30 ...and you're invited to the Pizza Party; 4.31 Question Clinic: The "Did you do what they asked you" Question; 4.32 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 5: Dealing with Directions: Vectors; 5.1 The treasure hunt; 5.2 Displacement is different from distance; 5.3 Distance is a scalar; displacement is a vector; 5.4 You can represent vectors using arrows; 5.5 You found the next clue...; 5.6 You can add vectors in any order; 5.7 Well done - you've found the third clue!; 5.8 Question Clinic: The "Wheat from the chaff" Question; 5.9 Angles measure rotations; 5.10 Now you can get on with clue 3!; 5.11 If you can't deal with something big, break it down into smaller parts; 5.12 You move onto the fourth clue...; 5.13 Velocity is the 'vector version' of speed; 5.14 Write units using shorthand; 5.15 So, on to clue 4 ...; 5.16 You need to allow for the stream's velocity too!; 5.17 If you can find the stream's velocity, you can figure out the velocity for the boat; 5.18 It takes the boat time to accelerate from a standing start; 5.19 How do you deal with acceleration?; 5.20 So it's back to the boat ...; 5.21 Vector, Angle, Velocity, Acceleration = WINNER!!!; 5.22 Your Physics Toolbox; 5.23 Question Clinic: The "Design an experiment" Question; Chapter 6: Displacement, Velocity, and Acceleration: What's going on?; 6.1 Just another day in the desert ...; 6.2 ...and another Dingo-Emu moment!; 6.3 How can you use what you know?; 6.4 The cage accelerates as it falls; 6.5 ' Vectorize' your equation; 6.6 You want an instantaneous velocity, not an average velocity; 6.7 You already know how to calculate the slope of a straight line...; 6.8 A point on a curved line has the same slope as its tangent; 6.9 The slope of something's velocity-time graph lets you work out its acceleration; 6.10 Work out the units of acceleration; 6.11 Success! You worked out the velocity after 2.0 s - and the cage won't break!; 6.12 Now onto solve for the displacement!; 6.13 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 7: Equations of motion (part 1): Playing With Equations; 7.1 How high should the crane be?; 7.2 Graphs and equations both represent the real world; 7.3 You're interested in the start and end points; 7.4 You have an equation for the velocity - but what about the displacement?; 7.5 See the average velocity on your velocity-time graph; 7.6 Test your equations by imagining them with different numbers; 7.7 Calculate the cage's displacement!; 7.8 You know how high the crane should be!; 7.9 But now the Dingo needs something more general; 7.10 A substitution will help; 7.11 Get rid of the variables you don't want by making substitutions; 7.12 Continue making substitutions ...; 7.13 You did it - you derived a useful equation for the cage's displacement!; 7.14 Check your equation using Units; 7.15 Check your equation by trying out some extreme values; 7.16 Your equation checks out!; 7.17 Question Clinic: The "Substitution" Question; 7.18 Question Clinic: The "Units" or "Dimensional analysis" Question; 7.19 Think like a physicist!; 7.20 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 8: Equations of Motion (Part 2): Up, up, and... back down; 8.1 Previously ...; 8.2 Now ACME has an amazing new cage launcher; 8.3 The acceleration due to gravity is constant; 8.4 Velocity and acceleration are in opposite directions, so they have opposite signs; 8.5 You can use one graph to work out the shapes of the others; 8.6 Is a graph of your equation the same shape as the graph you sketched?; 8.7 Ready to launch the cage!; 8.8 Fortunately, ACME has a rocket-powered hovercraft!; 8.9 You can work out a new equation by making a substitution for t; 8.10 Multiply out the parentheses in your equation; 8.11 You have two sets of parentheses multiplied together; 8.12 Where you're at with your new equation; 8.13 You need to simplify your equation by grouping the terms; 8.14 You can use your new equation to work out the stopping distance; 8.15 There are THREE key equations you can use when there's constant acceleration; 8.16 You need to work out the launch velocity that gets the Dingo out of the Grand Canyon!; 8.17 The launch velocity's right!; 8.18 You need to find another way of doing this problem; 8.19 Question Clinic: The "Sketch a graph" or "Match a graph" Question; 8.20 Question Clinic: The "Symmetry" and "Special points" Questions; 8.21 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 9: Triangles, Trig and Trajectories: Going two-dimensional; 9.1 Camelot - we have a problem!; 9.2 How wide should you make the moat?; 9.3 Looks like a triangle, yeah?; 9.4 A scale drawing can solve problems; 9.5 Pythagoras' Theorem lets you figure out the sides quickly; 9.6 Sketch + shape + equation = Problem solved!; 9.7 You kept them out!; 9.8 But the attackers get smarter!; 9.9 Camelot ... we have ANOTHER problem!; 9.10 Relate your angle to an angle inside the triangle; 9.11 Classify similar triangles by the ratios of their side lengths; 9.12 Sine, cosine and tangent connect the sides and angles of a right-angled triangle; 9.13 How to remember which ratio is which??; 9.14 Calculators have sin(θ), cos(θ) and tan(θ) tables built in; 9.15 Back at the castle, everyone's depending on you!; 9.16 You can know everything! *; 9.17 Does your answer SUCK?; 9.18 Uh oh. Gravity...; 9.19 The cannonball's velocity and acceleration vectors point in different directions; 9.20 Gravity accelerates everything downwards at 9.8 m/s2; 9.21 The horizontal component of the velocity can't change once you've let go; 9.22 The horizontal component of a projectile's velocity is constant; 9.23 The same method solves both problems; 9.24 Question Clinic: The "Projectile" Question; 9.25 And so they ran away ...; 9.26 Question Clinic: The "Missing steps" Question; 9.27 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 10: Momentum Conservation: What Newton Did; 10.1 The pirates be havin' a spot o' bother with a ghost ship ...; 10.2 What does the maximum range depend on?; 10.3 Firing at 45° maximizes your range; 10.4 You can't do everything that's theoretically possible - you need to be practical too; 10.5 Sieges-R-Us has a new stone cannonball, which they claim will increase the range!; 10.6 Massive things are more difficult to start off; 10.7 Massive things are more difficult to stop; 10.8 Newton's First Law; 10.9 Mass matters; 10.10 A stone cannonball has a smaller mass - so it has a larger velocity. But how much larger?; 10.11 Here's your lab equipment; 10.12 How are force, mass and velocity related?; 10.13 Vary only one thing at a time in your experiment; 10.14 Mass x velocity - momentum - is conserved; 10.15 A greater force acting over the same amount of time gives a greater change in momentum; 10.16 Write momentum conservation as an equation; 10.17 Momentum conservation and Newton's Third Law are equivalent; 10.18 You've calculated the stone cannonball's velocity...; 10.19 ...but you want the new range!; 10.20 Use proportion to work out the new range; 10.21 You solved the pirates' problem!; 10.22 Question Clinic: The "Proportion" Question (often multiple choice); 10.23 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 11: Weight and the normal force: Forces for courses; 11.1 WeightBotchers are at it again!; 11.2 Is it really possible to lose weight instantly?!; 11.3 Scales work by compressing or stretching a spring; 11.4 Mass is a measurement of "stuff"; 11.5 Weight is a force; 11.6 The relationship between force and mass involves momentum; 11.7 If the object's mass is constant, Fnet = ma; 11.8 The scales measure the support force; 11.9 Now you can debunk the machine!; 11.10 The machine reduces the support force; 11.11 Force pairs help you check your work; 11.12 You debunked WeightBotchers!; 11.13 But WeightBotchers are back!; 11.14 A surface can only exert a force perpendicular (or normal) to it; 11.15 When you slide downhill, there's zero perpendicular acceleration; 11.16 Use parallel and perpendicular force components to deal with a slope; 11.17 Another fake busted!; 11.18 Question Clinic: The "Free body diagram" Question; 11.19 Question Clinic: The "Free body diagram" Question; 11.20 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 12: Using forces, momentum, friction and impulse: Getting on with it; 12.1 It's ... SimFootball!; 12.2 Momentum is conserved in a collision; 12.3 But the collision might be at an angle; 12.4 A triangle with no right angles is awkward; 12.5 Use component vectors to create some right-angled triangles; 12.6 The programmer includes 2D momentum conservation ...; 12.7 ...but the players keep on sliding for ever!; 12.8 In real life, the force of friction is present; 12.9 Friction depends on the types of surfaces that are interacting; 12.10 Friction depends on the normal force; 12.11 Be careful when you calculate the normal force; 12.12 You're ready to use friction in the game!; 12.13 Including friction stops the players from sliding forever!; 12.14 The sliding players are fine - but the tire drag is causing problems; 12.15 Using components for the tire drag works!; 12.16 Question Clinic: The "Friction" Question; 12.17 How does kicking a football work?; 12.18 FΔt is called impulse; 12.19 The game's great - but there's just been a spec change!; 12.20 The strength of the moon's gravitational field is lower then the Earth's; 12.21 For added realism, sometimes the players should slip; 12.22 You can change only direction horizontally on a flat surface because of friction; 12.23 The game is brilliant, and going to X-Force rocks!; 12.24 Newton's Laws give you awesome powers; 12.25 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 13: Torque and Work: Getting a lift; 13.1 Half the kingdom to anyone who can lift the sword in the stone ...; 13.2 Can physics help you to lift a heavy object?; 13.3 Use a lever to turn a small force into a larger force; 13.4 Do an experiment to determine where to position the fulcrum; 13.5 Zero net torque causes the lever to balance; 13.6 Use torque to lift the sword and the stone!; 13.7 Question Clinic: The "Two equations, two unknowns" Question; 13.8 So you lift the sword and stone with the lever ...; 13.9 ...but they don't go high enough!; 13.10 You can't get something for nothing; 13.11 When you move an object against a force, you're doing work; 13.12 The work you need to do a job = force x displacement; 13.13 Which method involves the least amount of work?; 13.14 Work has units of Joules; 13.15 Energy is the capacity that something has to do work; 13.16 Lifting stones is like transferring energy from one store to another; 13.17 Energy conservation helps you to solve problems with differences in height; 13.18 One of our stackable stones is missing ...; 13.19 Will energy conservation save the day?; 13.20 You need to do work against friction as well as against gravity; 13.21 Doing work against friction increases internal energy; 13.22 Heating increases internal energy; 13.23 It's impossible to be 100% efficient; 13.24 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 14: Energy Conservation: Making your life easier; 14.1 The ultimate bobsled experience; 14.2 Forces and component vectors solve the first part ...; 14.3 ...but the second part doesn't have a uniform slope; 14.4 A moving object has kinetic energy; 14.5 The kinetic energy is related to the velocity; 14.6 Calculate the velocity using energy conservation and the change in height; 14.7 You've used energy conservation to solve the second part; 14.8 In the third part, you have to apply a force to stop a moving object; 14.9 Putting on the brake does work on the track; 14.10 Doing work against friction increases the internal energy; 14.11 Energy conservation helps you to do complicated problems in a simpler way; 14.12 There's a practical difference between momentum and kinetic energy; 14.13 Question Clinic: The "Show that" Question; 14.14 Question Clinic: The "Energy transfer" Question; 14.15 After the roaring success of SimFootball, it's time for SimPool; 14.16 Momentum conservation will solve an inelastic collision problem; 14.17 You need a second equation for an elastic collision; 14.18 Energy conservation gives you the second equation that you need!; 14.19 Factoring involves putting in parentheses; 14.20 You can deal with elastic collisions now; 14.21 In an elastic collision, the relative velocity reverses; 14.22 The pool ball collisions work!; 14.23 There's a gravity-defying trick shot to sort out ...; 14.24 Where is the problem with the programmer's reasoning?; 14.25 The initial collision is inelastic - so mechanical energy isn't conserved; 14.26 Use momentum conservation for the inelastic part; 14.27 Question Clinic: The "Ballistic pendulum" Question; 14.28 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 15: Tension, Pulleys and Problem Solving: Changing direction; 15.1 It's a bird... it's plane...; 15.2 ...no, it's... a guy on a skateboard?!; 15.3 Always look for something familiar; 15.4 Michael and the stack accelerate at the same rate; 15.5 Use tension to tackle the problem; 15.6 Look at the big picture as well as the parts; 15.7 But the day before the competition ...; 15.8 Using energy conservation is simpler than using forces; 15.9 There goes that skateboard...; 15.10 Your Physics Toolbox; Chapter 16: Circular Motion (Part 1): From α to ω; 16.1 Limber up for the Kentucky Hamster Derby; 16.2 You can revolutionize the hamsters' training; 16.3 Thinking through different approaches helps; 16.4 A circle's radius and circumference are linked by