Synopses & Reviews
In 1993, Jim Carter, a trailer-park owner in Enumclaw, Washington, sent out to a select group of scientists a letter announcing the publication of a book in which he proposed a complete alternative theory of physics. Gravity and matter, the periodic table, and the creation of the universe - all these Carter explained through wildly creative ideas developed while working as a gold miner and abalone diver. He had perfected his concepts through experiments performed in his backyard using garbage cans and a disco-fog machine to make giant smoke rings.For the past fifteen years, acclaimed science writer Margaret Wertheim has been collecting the works of Jim Carter and other "outsider physicists," many of them without formal training and all convinced they have found the true theory of the universe. In this ground-breaking book, Wertheim embarks on a journey of discovery into a unique subculture that exists in parallel to, and often hidden from, the scientific mainstream. Starting from the life of one individual, she finds herself drawn towards fundamental questions about the place of physics in the imaginative landscape of our time. At the start of the twentieth century, a few pioneering thinkers began to evaluate the work of what has come to be called "outsider artists," people with no formal credentials who were producing paintings and drawings of exceptional visual power. In Physics on the Fringe, Wertheim proposes a similar project for scientific outsiders. By considering the motivations of men like Jim Carter, with their do-it-yourself theories and their homemade experiments, she raises the question of what role an amateur can play in relationship to science. Deeply human, literally fantastical, infused with wit and humor, Physics on the Fringe challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for.
About the Author
Margaret Wertheim is a science writer who has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wired, and many other publications, and is the author of Pythagoras' Trousers and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. She founded the nonprofit Institute For Figuring, through which she created the "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" project, which is now the largest participatory art/science project in the world. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit her website: www.theiff.com