The Adventure of Physics - Vol. I: Fall, Flow, and Heat

(2 reviews)


Christoph Schiller

Pub Date:

ISBN 13: 978-1-4475455-4-5

Publisher: Independent

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Reviewed by J Woods Halley, Professor, University of Minnesota, on 7/16/2014.

The book covers a lot of ground, some of which is not standard fare in an undergraduate physics curriculum. However the treatment is extremely … read more



Reviewed by Aaron Coyner, Adjunct Professor, Southwestern Oregon Community College, on 8/22/2016.

Schiller deserves some credit for attempting to address as many topics as he does in this volume alone. Many of the topics are suitable for an upper … read more


Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Why should we care about motion?
  • Chapter 2: From motion measurement to continuity
  • Chapter 3: How to describe motion - kinematics
  • Chapter 4: From objects and images to conservation
  • Chapter 5: From the rotation of the Earth to the relativity of motion
  • Chapter 6: Motion due to gravitation
  • Chapter 7: Classical mechanics and the predictability of motion
  • Chapter 8: Measuring change with action
  • Chapter 9: Motion and symmetry
  • Chapter 10: Simple motions of extended bodies – oscillations and waves
  • Chapter 11: Do extended bodies exist? – Limits of continuity
  • Chapter 12: Fluids and their motion
  • Chapter 13: From heat to time-invariance
  • Chapter 14: Self-organization and chaos - the simplicity of complexity
  • Chapter 15: From the limitations of physics to the limits of motion

About the Book

This book is written for anybody who is curious about nature and motion. Curiosity about how people, animals, things, images and space move leads to many adventures. This volume presents the best of them in the domain of everyday life.

Carefully observing everyday motion allows us to deduce six essential statements: everyday motion is continuous, conserved, relative, reversible, mirror-invariant – and lazy. Yes, nature is indeed lazy: in every motion, it minimizes change. This text explores how these six results are deduced and how they fit with all those observations that seem to contradict them. In the structure of modern physics, shown in Figure 1, the results on everyday motion form the major part of the starting point at the bottom. The present volume is the first of a six-volume overview of physics. It resulted from a threefold aim I have pursued since 1990: to present motion in a way that is simple, up to date and captivating.

In order to be simple, the text focuses on concepts, while keeping mathematics to the necessary minimum. Understanding the concepts of physics is given precedence over using formulae in calculations. The whole text is within the reach of an undergraduate.

In order to be up to date, the text is enriched by the many gems – both theoretical and empirical – that are scattered throughout the scientific literature.

In order to be captivating, the text tries to startle the reader as much as possible. Read- ing a book on general physics should be like going to a magic show. We watch, we are astonished, we do not believe our eyes, we think, and finally we understand the trick. When we look at nature, we often have the same experience. Indeed, every page presents at least one surprise or provocation for the reader to think about. Numerous interesting challenges are proposed.

The motto of the text, die Menschen stärken, die Sachen klären, a famous statement by Hartmut von Hentig on pedagogy, translates as: ‘To fortify people, to clarify things.’ Clarifying things – and adhering only to the truth – requires courage, as changing the habits of thought produces fear, often hidden by anger. But by overcoming our fears we grow in strength. And we experience intense and beautiful emotions. All great adventures in life allow this, and exploring motion is one of them. Enjoy it!

About the Contributors


Christoph Schiller, born in 1960, is European. Raised in Varese, he studied physics at the Universität Stuttgart and received his Ph.D. in physics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in the department of Ilya Prigogine. Christoph Schiller is an innovation manager. He is convinced that exploring and applying physics can provide as much pleasure as anything else in life - and he explains why in the present text. He started the Motion Mountain Textbook project in Yokohama in 1990, wrote most of the text in Eindhoven and is finishing it during his business trips.