By N. David Mermin

ISBN-10: 0511608217

ISBN-13: 9780511608216

ISBN-10: 0521382319

ISBN-13: 9780521382311

ISBN-10: 0521388805

ISBN-13: 9780521388801

Boojums all through is a suite of essays that offers the problem of speaking glossy physics to either physicists and nonphysicists. a few addressed to a common viewers, a few to scholars and others to scientists, the essays all percentage a preoccupation with either the substance and the fashion of written clinical conversation, and supply a distinct view of daily technology or medical perform with the goal of elevated readability for the reader. the writer believes the culture of bland and impersonal clinical writing during the last fifty years deprives scientists of strong instruments for reinforcing their readability and potential to speak advanced principles. A good well-known theoretical physicist and winner of the 1st Julius Edgar Lilienfeld prize of the yank actual Society, Mermin writes with wry humor and conveys advanced principles with startling simplicity.

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Additional info for Boojums All the Way through: Communicating Science in a Prosaic Age

Sample text

Last October I received a phone call asking if I could survey Landau's contributions to condensed matter physics at a commemorative 80th birthday symposium to be held in Tel Aviv the following June. I said no, I couldn't. I wasn't an historian of science, and wouldn't pretend to be one. And as a physicist I felt that Landau's contributions in condensed matter physics spanned an area broader than my competence to review. Then I hesitated. I never had the opportunity to meet Landau, but there have been times in my life when I have felt his intellectual presence so vividly that, more than a teacher, he appeared to me almost as a scientific muse.

The perfect place to meet a boojum, though nobody ever did. The boojum, however, did make a casual but prolonged appearance in one of my lectures. The index entry in the published volume was worthy of a fully mature technical term: BCS gap, 175, 242, 244, 258 Bogoliubov-Zubarev method, 274 Boltzmann equation, 129 Boojum, 214 circular, 223 hyperbolic, 223 and sound attenuation, 224 and superflow, 224 Bose-Einstein condensation, 198 Bose liquid, 36 A month later I talked about boojums at a conference in New Hampshire.

While not an earthshaking advance, it was a likely candidate for one of the major discoveries of the week, and Physical Review Letters seemed an enitrely appropriate vehicle. Without any distortion of our central point, I was able to introduce a remark about boojums. Anticipating resistance to the boojums even if the article were accepted, I carefully supplied footnotes documenting the scientific and literary origins of the word. I even added a reference to Webster's second edition. I had no doubt this would be excised by the editor, but I hoped it would convey to him the fact that "boojum" was, after all, no more than an ordinary English common noun, and therefore not a candidate for rigorous editorial scrutiny.

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Boojums All the Way through: Communicating Science in a Prosaic Age by N. David Mermin


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