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One Two Three . . . Infinity (1947)

de George Gamow

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8901317,872 (3.99)1
Over 120 delightful pen-and-ink illustrations by the author add another dimension of good-natured charm to these wide-ranging explorations. A mind-expanding volume for the layman and the science-minded. "This is a layman's book as readable as a historical novel, but every chapter bears the solid imprint of authoritative research." -- San Francisco Chronicle.… (més)

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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Want to see how science has changed in the last 60 years? In the words of the author, this tome leaves "no subject untouched". ( )
  jefware | Mar 23, 2020 |
[about 2/3 of the way through; not sure whether I'll finish]

There's some interesting stuff in here, but it's marred by too many flaws.

On topics too complicated to explain fully, Gamow presents chains of reasoning that don't make sense in the absence of whatever additional evidence is left unspoken. (There's probably no perfect way of handling this, but in my opinion it's much better to acknowledge the gaps than to pretend you're walking the reader through a series of logical deductions.)

On topics that I'm unfamiliar with but capable of understanding (random thermal motion, diffusion) I find his explanations unnecessarily confusing.

And on a topic that I do understand (basic probability) he gets at least one thing badly wrong.

As for the style, it's fairly readable, but not to my taste. Perhaps it's standard mid-20th century American prose (it does feel somewhat familiar) but to me it reads like an awkward compromise between stuffy 19th-century English and patronisingly folksy children's edu-tainment. (That makes it sound worse than it is; it's really not terrible.) I was also frustrated by the use of imperial units, and more importantly the absence of scientific notation for very large or small numbers. (Writing out numbers like "one hundred millionths of an inch" is a bad idea, especially when it turns out to be a typo for "one hundred-millionth of an inch".)

Obviously some of these gripes are subjective, but not all. So I don't understand why this book has such a good reputation, not just as a nostalgic favourite but as a classic worth reading today. I don't recommend it. ( )
  matt_ar | Dec 6, 2019 |
I first read this book when I was a high school (or possibly junior high school) student. It was an important impetus for me at a formative stage in my life, and I give it credit as one of the books that led me to a career in science, which included a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and a professorship in a major university. ( )
  hcubic | Apr 7, 2019 |
Read some of this ( before it literally fell apart , old paperback )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
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Over 120 delightful pen-and-ink illustrations by the author add another dimension of good-natured charm to these wide-ranging explorations. A mind-expanding volume for the layman and the science-minded. "This is a layman's book as readable as a historical novel, but every chapter bears the solid imprint of authoritative research." -- San Francisco Chronicle.

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