Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fear of Physics.

I just got done reading Fear of Physics by Lawrence M. Krauss. It bills itself as A Guide for the Perplexed, but I find it has one major flaw.

I'm not a physicist, budding or otherwise, but I am a science fiction author and feel it is my duty to keep up on science. While I don't detest math, I find that I don't have that inspirational jump when it comes to math, that I do with other things. So most of my science comes from magazines, the Discover and other channels, and books marketed to the non-scientist.

And that brings us to the major, and almost unforgivable flaw. As an author, the first rule is to know who your audience is, but in writing Fear of Physics, Mr. Krauss seems to have forgotten it.

He starts out with good intentions, but quickly blunders into an ecstasy of the mind where the book comes across as if a know-it-all has finally been given free reign. Reading it, you can feel Mr. Krauss trembling with the sheer joy of expounding forth ideas he's been percolating for years.

He has fallen into the trap that I call intelligent stupidity. It's where someone is obviously smart and knowledgeable in their subject, but gets so wrapped up in it they forget how to communicate to those not so enraptured. Basically, it's like the scientist on The Simpson's, he's speaking truth, but he over complicates the language to the point where no one but himself, or fellow devotees, understand it.

P.S. It did have a redeeming moment. I have a story where a team of scientists are awarded the Nobel prize within a year of their discovery and that is typically not the case, (as one overzealous reader pointed out.) But, at the end of the book Mr. Krauss mentions Chen Ning Yang and Tsung Dao Lee who were awarded the Nobel within a year of their discovery. And, so my story is vindicated and I feel the cost of the book was worth it.

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