For many of us, the physical sciences are as obscure as the phenomena they explain. We see the wonders of nature but miss the symmetry beneath, framed as it is in ever stranger symbols and concepts. Roger Newton’s accessible account of how physicists understand the world allows the expert and novice alike to explore both the mysteries of the universe and the beauty of the science that gives shape to the unseeable.
In What Makes Nature Tick? we find engaging discussions of solitons and superconductors, quarks and strings, phase space, tachyons, time, chaos, and indeterminacy, as well as the investigations that have led to their elucidation. But Roger Newton does not limit this volume to late-breaking discoveries and startling facts. He presents physics as an expanding intellectual structure, a network of very human ideas that stretches back three hundred years from our present frontier of knowledge. Where does our unidirectional sense of time come from? What makes a particle elementary? How can forces be transmitted through empty space? In addition to providing these answers, and a host of others at the very heart of physics, Newton shows us how physicists formulate the questions—a process in which intuition, imagination, and aesthetics have a powerful influence.