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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

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January 15, 2010

Physics, for Dogs and Others

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Posted by Derek

Allow me to recommend a book I received a copy of recently, Chad Orzel's How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. Chad's a fellow scientific blogger from way back, and I have had a chance to consume chicken wings and trade lab stories with him. His new book is a fine addition to the what-the-heck-is-quantum-mechanics field, with some very good analogies and explanations. The format is conversational (which has a long history in the teaching of science), but this time, Orzel's dog is holding up the other end of the dialog. It's a device that lets him get at some pretty complex subjects - complex even for humans, I mean. (The famous Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon, about dogs being so cute when they try to comprehend quantum mechanics does come to mind). Definitely worth a look.

Comments (12) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping | Book Recommendations


1. David on January 15, 2010 12:54 PM writes...

Yes, it sounds like a very interesting book and on my wishlist.


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2. HelicalZz on January 15, 2010 1:24 PM writes...

"The format is conversational (which has a long history in the teaching of science) ...

Indeed it does.


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3. Wavefunction on January 15, 2010 1:52 PM writes...

It's on my list. Peter Woit also liked it.

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4. Sili on January 15, 2010 5:24 PM writes...

Also worth seeing from Orzeltopia: The Bohr-Einstein Debates, With Puppets.

If you enjoy the video, I heartily recommend looking at Donors Choose and making a donation. At some point. At the moment Haïti seems is more bitter need than even the most decrepit US school.

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5. MedInformaticsMD on January 15, 2010 5:45 PM writes...

Maybe parrots and corvids could be used, too.

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6. Cartesian on January 16, 2010 10:57 AM writes...

Hello, there is something about a petition which could interest you in the top right-hand corner at the following address: . Cordially

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7. Bored on January 16, 2010 4:43 PM writes...

#4 Sili

I went to a private high school, and took physics and chemistry in the 11th grade. Our teacher was very unconventional, and had us perform a puppet skit re-telling the entire story of the Manhattan Project in just 10 minutes. We all had to make our own puppets. I was Robert Oppenheimer. We even re-enacted the famous criticality accident with Harry K. Daghlian. I'll never forget, we spray-painted a ping-pong ball silver to make the plutonium pit. For the Trinity Test, we ignited a hydrogen-filled balloon. It was one of the most memorable (and bizarre) learning experiences of my life.

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8. Sili on January 16, 2010 5:34 PM writes...

I have to admit that that sorta learning has never been high on my list of things I enjoy (I was a bookish kid). But I can see how it's helpful and I think your teacher sounds awesome.

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9. Skeptic on January 16, 2010 9:44 PM writes...

Chemists take note on the link: Did you think it would be ANYTHING else? Now imagine an online analog for consumers to buy their drugs called something like nationalized by the equity position taking government. Now we all know finance calls the shots right? So, where do you suppose the *individual* chemist fits in this "government" structure amidst the hoardes of MBA's, lawyers, regulators, etc? I say he doesn't even exist.

So, the better question is: "Why would I even bother reading a physics book by anyone" given a single interface to the consumer AND the fact finance controls WHO gets the right to produce

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10. Thixo on January 17, 2010 8:43 PM writes...

To #9 Skeptic

You are either operating on a plane way higher than the rest of us, or you forgot to turn the fan on in your fume hood.

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11. Bored on January 17, 2010 8:51 PM writes...

#9 Skeptic:

They're coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!
They're coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa
To the funny farm. Where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be
happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're
coming to take me away, ha-haaa!!!!!

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12. Vader on January 19, 2010 11:12 AM writes...

When I was still in my teens, I encountered a book at my local library purporting to explain relativity to the common man.

The entire thing was written in blank verse.

(Didn't explain very well either.)

#9, you remind me of the fellow who tried to tell me that big corporations conspire to keep people in poverty. To which the obvious response is "Why would they do that? Poor people make lousy customers."

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