Holiday Reading for Physheads

So, the final exam for this lovely group of physics 53  DUML physheads is over,  grades have been submitted and students are putting finishing touches on the semester; getting ready to head off for the Holidays.  I can’t help submitting the following story relating to Tiger Woods car accident a short time ago:

A Gripping Read

There’s a physics angle to the Tiger Woods business of last week (that I’d not really been following since I was, thankfully, out of the country during the media blitz).

A physics angle? Really? Surely in my attempts to show the science angle in everyday things I’ve gone too far?


Well, actually there is. So there was some business with a car crashing and so forth, and there are photos of the interior of the car. There’s a book visible. It’s a physics book! It is John Gribbins’ Get a Grip on Physics, from 1999. tiger-woodss-car-with-get-close

It is out of print now, but apparently its Amazon (USA) sales rank shot from 396,224 to 2,268 over a short period. (For the record, before you ask about the other items in the photos (from Getty images), I’ve heard no news on whether umbrella sales also spiked. Or bottled water sales, for that matter.)

I like this story for lots of reasons, but the main one is that this shows to the general public that a high-profile sports star can find some time and interest to dip into a physics book from time to time. These popular level books are for everyone – not just the so-called geeks. Ordinary people with a range of interests who are interested in dipping into the larger culture that is available. I hope it encourages others to venture into this sort of reading material, without feeling/fearing that they are now going to be labelled a “science geek” for doing so. For all I know it was right next to a copy of a collection of Maya Angelou poems on his bedside table, or an excellent juicy murder-mystery novel, before he grabbed it and dashed for the car. That’s the way science should be – just out there among the other great stuff.

Here’s a Guardian story on it, with more information and some quotes from the pleased author.

I’m off to plant copies of D-Branes in the back seats of various local Hollywood stars, especially the accident prone ones. Hmmmmm, now which holiday parties is Lindsey Lohan going to?


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