Physics with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer pop-culture chaser
In the tradition of the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek, acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ouellette explains fundamental concepts in the physical sciences through examples culled from the hit TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. The weird and wonderful world of the Buffyverse—where the melding of magic and science is an everyday occurrence—provides a fantastical jumping-off point for looking at complex theories of biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics. From surreal vampires, demons, and interdimensional portals to energy conservation, black holes, and string theory, The Physics of the Buffyverse is serious (and palatable) science for the rest of us.
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Jennifer Ouellette writes the column "This Month in Physics History" for APS News, the monthly publication of the American Physical Society. Her articles have appeared in publications from Discover to Salon.From Publishers Weekly:
There's science beneath the fantasy in the beloved television series about a teenage girl battling monsters in her California exurb, insists this lightweight pop-science primer. Science writer Ouellette (Black Bodies and Quantum Cats) hopscotches through the fictive world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel to rationalize their outlandish goings-on and mine heuristics that illustrate scientific principles. She compares exotic demons to real animals, draws lessons on Newtonian kinematics from Buffy's kickboxing, susses conservation laws in Buffy's economy of magic and compares Buffy's fight against evil to mankind's doomed struggle against entropy. Many Buffyverse plot devices (teleportation, time loops, alternate dimensions) lead Ouellette to advanced physics concepts (wormholes, relativity, quantum entanglement) that are equally weird and esoteric. Here, unfortunately, the author's sketchy disquisitions fall back on strained metaphors ("Just like the couplings... between the various characters in the Buffyverse, each iteration of string theory is connected to another through various dualities") and opaque analogies ("[i]t's best to think of imaginary time as a direction of time that runs at right angles to real time") that laymen will find as baffling as a runic scroll in a dead language. Too often, Ouellette's treatment comes across the way science does on Buffy—as a breezy, jargon-filled, unenlightening gloss on some fanciful spectacle. (Jan.)
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