Read Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski Online


Take a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster?Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every daTake a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster?Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you’re interested in what makes the universe tick. In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski provides the tools to alter the way we see everything around us by linking ordinary objects and occurrences, like popcorn popping, coffee stains, and fridge magnets, to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative medical testing. She guides us through the principles of gases (“Explosions in the kitchen are generally considered a bad idea. But just occasionally a small one can produce something delicious”); gravity (drop some raisins in a bottle of carbonated lemonade and watch the whoosh of bubbles and the dancing raisins at the bottom bumping into each other); size (Czerski explains the action of the water molecules that cause the crime-scene stain left by a puddle of dried coffee); and time (why it takes so long for ketchup to come out of a bottle).Along the way, she provides answers to vexing questions: How does water travel from the roots of a redwood tree to its crown? How do ducks keep their feet warm when walking on ice? Why does milk, when added to tea, look like billowing storm clouds? In an engaging voice at once warm and witty, Czerski shares her stunning breadth of knowledge to lift the veil of familiarity from the ordinary. You may never look at your toaster the same way....

Title : Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393248968
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life Reviews

  • Susan
    2019-01-21 23:21

    How many times have you heard someone say (possibly one of your children…) that a particular subject at school is not relevant to them personally? In this book, author Helen Czerski attempts to show us how physics affects everyday life. Each chapter begins with something everyday – something small; such as trying to get ketchup from a bottle or stirring a cup of tea. From these innocuous springboards, she uses these examples to investigate much greater events in science and technology, using these seemingly simple beginnings. Even the chapter titles in this book are delightful. You have such titles as, “What goes up must come down,” “Why don’t ducks get cold feet?” and “Spoons, Spirals and Sputnik.” Who can resist? Being a child of the Seventies, when science was not a compulsory subject, my scientific knowledge is less than zero, but I found myself enthused by this book. She does not dumb down her writing, but simply makes it accessible, understandable and entirely riveting. I can honestly say that you will not see everyday things in the same light again if you read this book and so, if you have any interest in how the world works and the strange, amazing patterns within it, give this a try.

  • ياسر حارب
    2019-01-11 04:29

    Despite the complexity of physics, this book will make you understand it and love it. You observe simple stuff in your daily routine, and never thought about how they work, right? Well this book will make you look at life in a different way. Physics is for everyone. I kept saying "wow" throughout the book. I recommend this book to everyone.

  • Karen
    2018-12-27 03:40

    Author and PhD Helen Czerski loves physics and wants others to share her enthusiasm. She sure won me over. This is a thoughtful debut by Czerski, a physicist/oceanographer. Chock full of tidbits on how/why stuff works, she breaks down things that I never even thought about and makes science easily understood. Curiosity is human nature and I find myself more curious of everyday experiences and thinking about things in new ways after reading Helen’s book. Is it worth paying more for a fluorescent light? Should my sunglasses have polarizing lenses? How can I tell a raw egg from a boiled egg without taking off their shells? Why isn’t my ketchup coming out of the bottle? Why does my tea water slosh around when I carry my mug to the other end of the room? Why don’t ducks get cold feet? Well, I never put much thought in about these things nor their physics but now I can amaze my friends with newfound knowledge! I could go on and on about the stuff I learned from Helen, but just do yourself a favor and go buy the book.

  • Carlos
    2019-01-06 23:22

    This book is an anomaly, it deals with very technical and complex stuff but tries to take the simple approach to explain said phenomena. Physics will always be a complex subject and even though it affects everything inside and around us , there are few people who can name what this subject is about , let alone try to explain it to other people. This book tries to fill that gap and explain complex physics fundamentals to the masses (us), it succeeds in a way , as some parts of this book were really fun and you forgot you were actually studying physics, but by taking the simple route you also lose the ability to explain the more complex stuff of physics which it is what makes that subject so important. A delicate balance had been reached by this book, very short of achieving its true goal but coming in very close to it .

  • L.A. Starks
    2018-12-23 04:33

    This is physics without the equations, far more immediate and dramatic than the way we usually encounter it in courses. Czerski provides a great deal of good, basic knowledge--how physics is a part of everything we experience and do. Her examples are easy to understand and refreshing.The end of the book, about electromagnetism, gets a bit denser. And the conclusion has a "history-of-the-world" overreach aspect. But, these are minor, minor points in an innovative, thoughtful and considerate-to-readers explication of this basic science. One comes away saying "why can't anyone else teach physics so clearly?" The answer is, it takes a remarkable talent to first understand the science (with all of its equations), then doubly so to explain it with such immediate, everyday examples.The biology corollary to this book is the beautifully-written, unfortunately-named Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren.

  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    2019-01-01 03:39

    Helen Czerski, physicist at University College London's Department of Mechanical Engineering, explains what the physics is behind everyday stuff, like what makes a toaster toast bread or what forces are at work when we stir milk into a serving of tea. Amazing. I had no idea electromagnetic forces were in the bottom of my toaster, for example. I had no idea of why ducks' feet do not freeze. I had no idea of how the sound of thunder worked (that rumble after the initial crash). She talks about the soda bubbles and centrifugal forces and gravity and electrons and photons and soundwaves which underlie our activities in kitchens and gardens and oceans. I never thought about snail slime, but now I know more about the physics of slime. I knew atoms vibrate, but now I understand more vividly how fast or slow that that vibrating is occurring determines so much more about what form an element takes - solid, liquid, gas, and how it makes stuff, like water, glass, clothes drying out, function.'Storm in a Teacup' is an excellent general science book of everyday physics, well written and extremely fun to read! Highly recommend. Simple explanations, but not at all juvenile or patronizing. Subjects are vaguely linked, but the author really seems to more or less follow a train of thought than rigidly organize her subjects.Really interesting book. Chapters:Popcorn and RocketsWhat Goes Up Must Come DownSmall is Beautiful A Moment in TimeMaking WavesWhy Don't Ducks Get Cold Feet?Spoons, Spirals, and SputnikWhen Opposites AttractA Sense of PerspectiveIn back are extensive References and Index sections.

  • Paul
    2019-01-10 06:28

    For some people, science can baffle them, they see it as confusing and the domain of experts and specialists. In some cases, they are right; there are some hideously complicated theories out there that are seeking to explain the finest detail about quarks, string theory and genetics. But it needn’t be that way, science can explain just how the things that we interact with on a daily basis, work. In this, her first book, Czerski takes some well-known items, like eggs, popcorn, ducks, Wi-Fi, magnetism and of course teacups and describes how they work and how they show the inner workings of the physics laws. As an introduction to physics and science it is a great little book. Czerski has a chatty style of writing as she tell us about the various subjects, whilst unobtrusively slipping the science in under the radar. For me it is a bit too general in scope, I tend to prefer more specific books, but by making science interesting, and more importantly accessible, this book will appeal even to those that rarely venture into the world of science. 3.5 Stars

  • John Gribbin
    2019-01-09 22:49

    Slightly edited version of my review in Wall Street Journal:​Did you realize that the rumble of thunder associated with a lightning flash is actually a result of the whipcrack sound from the lightning flash taking longer to reach the ear from greater heights up the lightning bolt itself? “These sound waves are travelling at about 1,100 feet every second or 767 mph, which means they’re taking 4.7 seconds to cover a mile,” explain Helen Czerski in her entertaining new book. “What I hear just after the initial crack is the sound from slightly higher up the lightning bolt. It started as the same sound but it took longer to reach me because it had to travel along a sloping, and therefore longer, path. And then as the thunder rumbles on, I’m hearing the sound from higher and higher up that same lightning bolt.”Dr Czerski is a British physicist with wide experience as a science popularizer both in print media and for the BBC. The emphasis here is definitely on “popular”; “Storm in a Teacup” is very much a fun book, pulling together many easily accessible accounts of how physics explains everyday phenomena, from the titular teacup whirlpools to the reason why ducks don’t freeze when swimming in icy water. Most of the stories are self-contained, so the reader can dip into the book anywhere and be pretty sure of pulling out a juicy plum; many are anecdotal, drawing on the author’s experience as a marine researcher, investigating what goes on at the boundary between sea and atmosphere. Czerski is at her best when describing her personal experiences of natural phenomena, whether this is her struggle with scientific equipment on the heaving deck of a research vessel in a storm, or something as familiar to the reader as that flash of lightning. The result is a painless way of learning how the world works, like having a friendly physicist giving you a personal fireside chat.Although individual anecdotes are self-contained, “Storm in a Teacup” is arranged thematically, with eight chapters each jumping of from a particular phenomenon (such as the reason why popcorn pops) and developing a theme based on that everyday event (in this case, how space rockets work) with a final chapter looking at humankind’s place in the universe.I particularly enjoyed the discussion of why coffee stains dry out to produce brown outlines, not because the explanation was a surprise to me, but because of the nod given to the pioneering microscopist Robert Hooke, whose contribution to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century is so often overlooked. “Hooke,” she says, “hadn’t just shown the way to the world of the very small; he’d thrown open the doors and invited everyone in for a party. [His book] Micrographia inspired some of the most famous microscopists of the following centuries, and also whetted the appetite of fashionable London.” Indeed “Storm in a Teacup” whets the appetite in the same way, and the fact that there is indeed a connection between Hooke’s work and the way a puddle of coffee dries out gives you a hint of the approach used by Czerski.One thing I learned was why ducks paddling in cold water are able to maintain their body heat. The chapter is jokingly titled “Why Don’t Ducks Get Cold Feet?” but what it actually makes clear is that their feet do indeed get cold (very cold), but thanks to some ingenious plumbing arrangements, this does not make the body of the duck cold. As the author herself says, “ducks can happily stand on the ice precisely because their feet are cold. And they don’t care.” This otherwise excellent book did irritate me in a few small ways. A misguided attempt to interpret the English for an American audience ends up falling between two stools when we are told that the British approach to solving a problem is to “find the cookie tin and put the kettle on.” In my experience, a Britisher might have a biscuit tin, and an American might have a cookie jar. No Britisher I know has a cookie tin, but perhaps they do things differently on board ocean research vessels.More seriously, a reference to radio waves spreading out in circle from the sinking Titanic misses the opportunity to point out that they actually spread spherically, which is relevant to the story built up from that remark. I suspect that the author meant “spherical” but wrote “circular” in a fit of absent-mindedness and never corrected it. Finally one of my pet hates is to see a physicist refer to “the Theories of Special and General Relativity.” It is the theories that are special (that is, restricted to the special case of uniform motion) or general (that is, generally applicable to any motion), not the relativity! As these examples show, the book would have benefited from a final polish by an editor with an understanding of physics and the vernacular. But these are minor points which are unlikely to trouble the intended audience. “Storm in a Teacup” would be an ideal gift for any scientifically inquisitive person, including children and adults who retain the sense of wonder of a child. Robert Hooke would have loved it.

  • Jeremy
    2019-01-03 00:36

    A pretty strong offering for the popular physics genre. The author does a good job taking everyday events (frequently involving tea, sometimes coffee or milk) as a springboard to show how physical principles and processes play out across a range of scales. The great strength of this book is a welcome focus on phenomena like fluids and surface tension, which are quite fascinating but don't get this thorough a treatment in other books I've read. A drying coffee spill leads to an explanation of how redwoods can carry water all the way to their top, mopping up a splash of milk leads to a discussion of the technology of microfluidics, and so on. Naturally, this also entails a discussion of how changes in scale (in size, time or speed) change the way that the physics plays out at the same time she underlines the similarity in the processes at work. Her writing is clear and detailed and a joy to read.There were some weak places as well. I was particularly underwhelmed by her treatment of magnetism and how batteries work, but in a book that covers so much ground those are minor dull spots in an otherwise excellent piece of popular science writing.

  • Amanda
    2019-01-13 00:34

    Originally posted at Desert Island Book ReviewsHave you ever wondered why coffee spills leave a ring on the table, or why a piece of buttered toast always falls butter-side down? These are just two of the topics physicist Helen Czerski explains in this book, released at the beginning of January.I’ve always liked science, though I’ll readily admit that physics was always my least favorite branch (I’m a chemistry kind of person). That doesn’t mean that everyday phenomena don’t sometimes mystify me. I understand the theories about things like wireless communication and electricity, but it’s just so crazy to think that we’ve managed to harness them and do so much to make them useful. That’s one of the reasons I really appreciated this book.Czerski takes these everyday things and explains the physics of them, applying what is (I think) the least exciting branch of science to learn to simple little things, like bubbles, coffee stains, and cell phone wireless signals. Okay, that last one is not quite so simple. Still, I liked that in each chapter, she was able to tackle a theme (for instance, electromagnetism) and find several real-world applications to demonstrate it. I liked her apparent natural curiosity about the world and her easily replicable experiments (like putting raisins in a bottle of something fizzy or knocking toast off of the table).I think this book helps make physics seem more approachable, something that’s definitely nice when you want to read about it and not get your PhD in it. It’s science and when you read, you’re learning, but there’s nothing dull here. There aren’t loads of calculations and numbers (one of my least favorite parts of physics in high school). A lot of the things in this book would even make good cocktail party conversation starters (with the right crowd, of course).The only part of this book I didn’t like was the last chapter. I know it was meant to tie things together and give us a broader overview of humans and our place in the world, but it kind of bored me. I liked the earlier chapters’ concrete examples and experiments and found that this was missing at the end. I would’ve left that whole chapter out, focusing instead on the real content of the book.Storm in a Teacup is easy to recommend for anyone interested in science or in learning a little more about how and why the world works. I think it’s appropriate for anyone, of any age, though if you do have a physics degree, it might be a little elementary for you. It’s not exactly a quick read, but if you break it down into chapters, it’s enjoyable, educational, and something a little different, especially if your TBR pile looks anything like mine. I gave it four stars.*ARC from W.W. Norton & Company via NetGalley

  • Douglas Lord
    2019-01-02 05:24

    Damn this book is disappointing because it sounds like it could be so good. It’s scattered, not centered, and feels disorganized. Czerski’s ’splainings aren’t so clear, skipping from point A to point B then to point Z in leaps and bounds. For example, she discusses the strength of air pressure through writing about Otto von Guericke’s vacuum pump demonstration for the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III in 1654. This segues into a discussion of the first attempts at mail by rocket, then space rockets generally, which she tries to sum up as “just molecules bumping into things.” The rest of the explanations are similarly reductive, chopped up, even discrete. VERDICT Isaac Asimov could teach through his writings (see Of Time, Space, and Other Things), and authors such as Mary Roach, whose personal approaches take the form of narratives, can be followed and learned from. Not so much with this book.Find reviews of books for men at Books for Dudes, Books for Dudes, the online reader's advisory column for men from Library Journal. Copyright Library Journal.

  • Ettore1207
    2019-01-15 03:27

    Un ennesimo libro di divulgazione sulla fisica, con luci e ombre. Le luci sono rappresentate da alcuni degli argomenti trattati, interessanti e inusuali. Ad esempio: lo sapete perché i piccioni hanno quel buffo modo di camminare, con la testa che oscilla vistosamente avanti e indietro? (no, non è questione di equilibrio...) E sapete perché è così difficile camminare con una tazza colma in mano senza spandere il contenuto, mentre la cosa è molto più facile se si usa un vassoio? E come fanno le anatre a nuotare in acque gelide con quelle zampone che dissipano un sacco di calore?Le ombre vengono da una sensazione di disorganizzazione e da alcune parti un po' tirate in lungo, fra cui spicca quella sull'elettricità e gli elettroni. Ho trovato abbastanza fastidioso il modo di scrivere "americaneggiante" (nonostante l'autrice sia inglese) con uso di frasette e aggettivi inconsueti che dovrebbero - credo - suscitare un sorriso mentre invece sono soltanto insulsi. Qualche esempio:- La nostra atmosfera ospita vaste quantità di acqua e energia, e di solito questi beni ingombranti si spostano lenti e tranquilli.- In una grigia, cupa e fredda giornata invernale, un toast è un perfetto cibo consolatorio.- Le bolle sono rassicuranti perché sappiamo dove cercarle: in alto.- La maggior parte delle volte, il mio gregge di elettroni supplementari fuggiva, una particella alla volta, chiedendo un passaggio all’acqua volante.- Dopo la guerra, la EMI cercava persone con esperienza in elettronica, perché le prime televisioni erano bestie complesse e vivaci,[...]Nota pedante: c'è questo errore:Un interruttore aperto è semplicemente un punto del circuito in cui due parti di conduttore elettrico si toccano.Quello è un interruttore CHIUSO.

  • Rakesh Nair
    2019-01-03 01:44

    Something I wish I could have gotten my hands on while in school. Or even while pursing a degree in Engineering. A very informative and at times unique, out-of-the-box perspective of some of the most fundamental principles in classical physics without the essential mathematics.

  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    2019-01-17 04:30

    Summary: I've never had an intuitive grasp of physics, but Helen Czerski explained concepts in an engaging way that constantly gave me new insights into everyday phenomena."Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you’re interested in what makes the universe tick."(source)I've long felt that my understanding of the physics everyday objects around me is poor and this was the perfect book to remedy that. Author Helen Czerski did an amazing job conveying why physics is so exciting to her. Her writing style was as entertaining and conversational as the blurbs promised. She illustrated every concept with her personal experiences, fascinating historical anecdotes, and interesting natural phenomena. I was far more engaged in the concepts than I ever was in a physics class. She made the concepts both engaging and memorable.My one complaint is that each chapter covers a set of clearly related physical principles, but the many illustrations of those principles don't always flow nicely. In some cases, I also felt that I had to infer the topic of the chapter, when I'd rather have been given a more descriptive chapter heading. However, this really is my only complaint about an amazing book. I learned more fun facts than I know what to do with and I couldn't have enjoyed the learning experience any more. I might be getting ahead of myself, but I loved this book enough that I could see it being one of my top nonfiction reads of the year.a Rafflecopter giveawayThis review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  • Sara
    2019-01-05 04:27

    Hmmm, how to rate this one...Well, I didn't love it. In fact, I found it hard to get through. But still, I don't think it was that bad of a book. Czerski brings some interesting tidbits and every day knowledge of physics into her book and from her writing it is quite clear that she is passionate about science. She even has a sort of love letter to science in the final chapter. Physics is just a bit convoluted at times and it's tough to visualize some of these concepts without the aid of diagrams or pictures at all. Some information reads fine without it, but other aspects I struggled to completely grasp. Although she avoids dense vocabulary and generally being pedantic on concepts, it doesn't quite hit the mark. It's too bad because the author seems a lovely, dedicated scientist. I just don't think she exactly struck the balance between physicist and pop. science books. It's not bad... just not my favorite.

  • Zahraa El-Kabengi
    2019-01-05 04:42

    Loved this book. It's fun, informative and interesting :)

  • Johanne
    2018-12-23 23:35

    Excellent, an easy to read reminder of the fascinating stuff that is all around us. It doesn't leap into the big complex ideas of physics but the small stuff: toasters, waves, bubbles, lightening, sauce bottles and duck feet. All clearly explained and accessible - not an equation in sight, and meanwhile the big concepts are being made clear. The best sort of writing of complex ideas for laypeople.

  • Steve
    2019-01-22 23:29

    I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Interesting in a nerdy sort of way. Probably only interesting to those interested in the background science of everyday things.

  • Mohammad
    2018-12-23 22:22

    Amazing book. It is exactly what I wanted which was to learn about the physics behind everyday phenomena. She does an amazing job. The book is so easy to follow and very entertaining. It just made everything around me much more interesting. It's so cool to know why things happen the way they do.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2019-01-09 05:24

    Basically, this book is the author's reflection on the physics of everyday life. The level is very introductory for the layman. It is what it is. I was a physics major in college so I've kind of seen this stuff before but for a nonphysicist, it might be a fun book.

  • Rochel Dick Plonka
    2018-12-28 03:27

    I enjoyed it. My husband has a PhD in physics and I now feel like I know more about everyday physics than he does.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-01-21 02:47

  • Will Simpson
    2018-12-23 02:39

    Great writing, Helen has a super story to tell and tells it with natural enthusiasm. She clearly explains hard physics with everyday situations. She pulls back the curtain on several physics principles.Science of the small. Gravity is the prominent force at our, the human, scale but the weaker forces gain native strength as the scale gets smaller and funny interesting things begin to happen. Viscosity and surface tension are two samples.Some science is of the large. Einstein was interested in the large and saw funny and interesting things happen at that scale. Time scales are important and make for some interesting physics. We (humans) are in the middle. What I experience everything in a human (100 year) time scale but that is very different from a planetary or an ATP molecule scale. Things happen differently at different time scales. Helen explains the physics behind this. This book is about the small, the unseen and how the forces and phenomena interact with daily life.Love this book for what it teaches me and for showing how things fit together with what I’ve learned elsewhere.Recommended for readers interested in mental models of how the world works and science geeks.

  • Paperclippe
    2018-12-26 01:34

    That was really nice! A really sweet and personal journey through the physics of everyday things (as advertised) like why duck's feet don't get cold in the winter (they do - and it's important that they do) and why toast falls butter-side down; as well as some less everyday things like the Large Hadron Collider and gravitational waves, but explained in a way that I promise you anyone can understand. I did this as an audiobook and the reader's Northern England accent was amazing. It worked perfectly (as the author is from Manchester) and the whole thing was just a super enjoyable and fun experience. Another winner from the Talk Nerdy podcast!

  • Sidsel Pedersen
    2019-01-08 06:35

    Amazing! This book has really been a marvel to read! It's so accessible and entertaining. It explains physics in a way where I did not only understand it and apprised it, but wanted to share it. The book has spawned so many conversations and made me think. It has been a hot to read!I really feel that this is refreshing and expanding my understanding of the physics of the world and it is so well written. One of the best non-fiction books I have read in years!

  • Sabrina
    2019-01-04 01:48

    Helen Czerski compares the natural frequency of tea sloshing and buildings in an earthquake. I learnt fascinating facts about heat preservation (why a duck's feet don't get cold) and how magnets help us harvest energy from wind turbines.The book starts off very simply and is great for a beginner to see the science in absolutely every single thing in the world. It is even simple and clear enough to be read with children.

  • Cristhian
    2018-12-24 02:30

    Existen libros de divulgación científica que te dejan sonriendo. Este es uno de ellos que platuca de manera sencilla muchas de las cosas que interactúan en nuestro día con día y que son ocasionadas por fuerzas físicas en nuestro entorno.Creo que pudo abarcar muchos más temas pues siento que da para una serie completa de libros. 4.3/5

  • Anjana sundar
    2019-01-20 00:21


  • Wayne
    2019-01-02 22:37

    An interesting read if you are in to nerdy science facts explained simply. If you have much of a science background, you may not get a whole lot out of the book. Nonetheless, there are plenty of good tales and enough to keep you entertained.

  • Harish Namboothiri
    2018-12-27 22:23

    Storm In A Teacup is a book written by a physicist that explains how knowledge of physical laws enhance your understanding about the world that we live in. This understanding can be an enriching experience. After reading this book, I feel this is the way to learn new things. Acquired knowledge, even if it is about subatomic particles, is only useful when we are able to relate it to the small and large phenomena that happens around us. This way of learning can help us in finding ways to improve our lives too.