Light Years (Paperback)
The Extraordinary Story of Mankind's Fascination with Light
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This is the story of light and the people who were determined to unlock the secrets of one of the greatest puzzles of the Universe. Acclaimed science writer Brian Clegg recounts how civilisations from the Ancient Egyptians to the Mayans understood light spiritually, and looks at the first scientific grapplings with light by the ancient Chinese sage Mo Ti, the Greek philosopher Empedocles, Arab genius Alhazen and others. Clegg also explores the contribution of artists such as Brunellschi, Leonardo de Vinci and Durer to our understanding of light and examines the great revolutionaries of light theory including Galileo, Descartes, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein. In this new edition of one of his best-loved books, Clegg finally discusses the work of scientists such as Maxwell, Edison and Gould that led to light-driven inventions from the camera to the laser, CDs and optical computers and explains the mind-bending advances of quantum physics.
‘A fascinating book on a fascinating subject. It brings together all aspects of light in an unusual and compelling way.’
‘A fascinating book which illuminates and entertains.’
‘Light’s properties often seem mysterious to the point of being unfathomable. Yet in this extraordinary book Brian Clegg manages to explain them through the lives of those so fixated with light that they have shaped our perception of it… Clegg’s accessible writing style manages to encapsulate the lives of light’s disciples with humorous and interesting anecdotes… Clegg also provides real scientific insight into how light behaves. He explains complex theories through lucid metaphors, without resorting to the elaborate diagrams so beloved of some popular science writers…Clegg indulges in future gazing, too, the results of which are quite awesome.’
‘This immensely likeable work of pop science traces “man’s enduring fascination with light”, from Aristotle’s plans for a death ray (burning enemy ships with a giant array of mirrors) through to a recent experiment that seems to have sent Mozart’s 40th Symphony faster than light, and thus back through time. Clegg is very good at explaining the bizarre properties of light.’