There are a lot of books about how things work. Many are excellent; most are readily accessible to younger readers. In a recent bookstore browse, I came across such a book, but one that is written for adults.
I don’t think I have ever seen a “way things work” book that covers as much ground as How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary by Louis Bloomfield (John Wiley, 2008).
This 700+ page black and white paperback describes in crystal clear language, supported by comprehensive but equally clear illustrations, about everything in modern life you could ask about.
How do vacuum cleaners work and – to me the greatest mystery – how does television get to our eyes?
Why don’t you fall out of those roller coasters that turn upside down? What is the physics of bicycles? Elevators?
How about light bulbs, thermostats, and insulation? Air conditioners and automobiles? Even clocks and musical instruments?
Magnets, motors, maglev trains, microwave ovens, telescopes, nuclear reactors, atom bombs, plastics, and oil refineries – they’re all here! The book ends with laundry and batteries.
On each topic, this fellow tells exactly how it works – the real details, not glossing over them for kids. But details that even I could understand. Unlike the kid-friendly books, this is not just nice pictures with limited text – this is a lot of text on each subject. Maybe not enough for you to earn a PhD in science, but enough to take your understanding to a whole new level.
Author Bloomfield writes physics textbooks that sell for three times as much. Here is a very affordable book for any curious person, a great book to have around the house or office as a reference, a great book just to browse through. I might even say, “If you are going to have just one science book in your house, start with this one.”