Princeton authors speaking at Oxford Literary Festival 2014

We are delighted that the following Princeton authors will be speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival in Oxford, UK, in the last week of March. Details of all events can be found at the links below:images5L8V7T97

Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, husband and wife popular astronomy writers and authors of From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System and Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe respectively, will be speaking  on Monday 24 March at 4:00pm

David Edmonds, author of Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us  about Right and Wrong will be speaking on Monday 24 March at 6:00pm

Robert Bartlett, author of Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation will be speaking on Tuesday 25 March at 2:00pm

Michael Scott, author of Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 10:00am

Simon Blackburn, author of Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 4:00pm

Roger Scruton author of the forthcoming The Soul of the World will be speaking Thursday 27 March 12:00pm

Alexander McCall Smith, author of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You will be speaking about how this poet has enriched his life and can enrich yours too on Friday 28 March at 12:00pm

Averil Cameron, author of Byzantine Matters will be speaking on Friday 28 March at 2:00pm

Edmund Fawcett, author of Liberalism: The Life of an Idea will be speaking on Saturday 29 March at 10:00am

In addition, Ian Goldin will be giving the inaugural “Princeton Lecture” at The Oxford Literary Festival, on the themes within his forthcoming book, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It on Thursday 27 March at 6:00pm


Free #PiDay E-Cards from The Ultimate Quotable Einstein

Send #PiDay Greetings with these free ecards featuring Einstein’s thoughts on birthdays as found in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, edited by Alice Calaprice.

einstein birthday 2 web

einstein birthday web

Rutgers University to host Bernard Carlson for a lecture on Nikola Tesla, March 24, 2014

Carlson Poster - with tesla

Physics Today interviews Princeton physicist William Bialek on his path-breaking new text book BIOPHYSICS: Searching for Principles

Princeton University professor William Bialek, renowned for his research on the interactions of physics and biology, was interviewed for the February 2014 issue of Physics Toady about his groundbreaking new textbook BIOPHYSICS: Searching for Principles.

A sneak peak:
Physics Today: How does your approach to biophysics compare with others, and how is that approach reflected in the layout of your text?

Bialek: I think most previous textbooks have presented biophysics as a biological science, or perhaps as a cross-disciplinary amalgam. I have taken the view that there is a physics of biological systems and that this is to be understood in the same way that we talk about the physics of solids or the physics of the early universe. So this book tries to present biophysics as a branch of physics.The physics of biological systems is a very broad subject, and I have tried to capture as much of this breadth as I could: from the dynamics of single molecules to the collective behavior of populations of organisms….(continued)

“Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” or the most energy ineffecient cuppa ever

This is crossposted from Chuck Adler’s new blog called Wizards, Aliens, and Starships where he will be posting about physics and math found in our favorite science fiction and fantasy tv shows, films, and books. Here, he reveals the most inefficient way to make a cup of tea.

Cup of tea (High Speed Photography)-MJSometimes the best things in life are the simplest ones. Perhaps my favorite holiday gift ever was an electric kettle, a device whose only purpose in life is to boil water — but boil it efficiently, in a fraction of the time it would take for a kettle on the stove, and for a fraction of the energy, too. It’s simplicity itself — it has a coil which a current runs through. The coil gets hot, heats water in a chamber sitting above it, and voila! Boiling water. By my estimates, the electricity costs are about a tenth to a fifth of a cent for every cup of tea I brew.

The 23rd-century designers of the USS Enterprise seem to have lost this technology. To get a cup of tea, Captain Jean-Luc Picard stands next to a little box in his room, says “Tea, Earl Gray, hot”, and a cup of tea is beamed in. It seems to be an offshoot of transporter technology: you’re either beaming a cup made before from somewhere else, or assembling it whole from “pure energy” (whatever that means.) Either way, it seems to be a damn-fool way to make a cuppa.

E=mc squared, right? Each kilogram of matter takes 90,000 trillion joules of energy to create. The water in a cup of tea has a mass of about one-third of a kilo, so this is 30,000 trillion joules. But no technology is perfect: if the replicator is only 99.99% efficient, we are wasting 30 trillion joules into heat – enough to heat 100 million kilograms of water for tea… Just why are we doing it this way, again?

For more math and physics from Star Trek, Harry Potter, Dresden Files, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and more, check out Chuck’s new book: Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction

Einstein’s Real Breakthrough: Quantum Theory

Thank you to Yale University for recording this fantastic interview between A. Douglas Stone and Ramamurti Shankar.

People may be surprised to hear that Einstein could well be the father of quantum theory in addition to the father of relativity. In part this is because Einstein ultimately rejected quantum theory, but also because there is very little published evidence of his work. However, as he researched his new book Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian, Stone discovered letters and correspondence with other scientists that demonstrate the extent of Einstein’s influence in this area.

If you would like to learn more about Einstein’s contributions to quantum theory, grab a copy of Einstein and the Quantum which you can sample here.

Interested in Einstein?



On Wednesday 29th January, A.Douglas Stone will be giving a talk at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, one of Britain’s best loved and most famous bookshops.

Einstein’s development of Quantum theory has not really been appreciated before. Now A.Douglas Stone reveals how he was actually one of the most important pioneers in the field.  Einstein himself famously rejected Quantum mechanics with his “God does not play dice” theory, yet he actually thought more about atoms and molecules than he did about relativity. Stone’s book ‘Einstein and the Quantum‘, which was published in November by Princeton University Press, outlines Einstein’s personal struggle with his Quantum findings as it went against his belief in science as something eternal and objective. Professor Stone will be happy to take questions and sign copies at the end of his talk.

Wednesday, January 29th at 19:00

Tickets cost £3 and are available from Blackwell’s Customer Service desk in the shop; by telephoning 01865 333623; by emailing


Tesla in Winnipeg — W. Bernard Carlson to participate in New Music Festival

Carlson_Tesla jacketBernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, will appear at an event co-sponsored by New Music Festival and Spur this Sunday, January 26. The New Music Festival is hosted by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and highlights some of the most innovative and iconoclastic music being made right now. The WSO selected “Tesla in New York”, an opera by Jim Jarmusch and Phil Kline as part of a double feature for this weekend and Carlson will appear in a pre-concert talk with Jarmusch and Kline to discuss the process of turning Nikola Tesla’s fascinating life into an opera.

Sunday January 26th 6pm
Piano Nobile (Plug In ICA Lounge)
Creating “Tesla in New York”
Spur invites Phil Kline, Jim Jarmusch and Bernard W. Carlson to discuss the process of turning Nikola Tesla’s fascinating life into the opera, “Tesla in New York.”
Copies of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age will be available at the event through McNally Robinson Booksellers.

New Physics and Astrophysics Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new physics and astrophysics catalog!

Don’t miss the latest undergraduate and graduate textbooks or the newest additions to our In a Nutshell, Princeton Frontiers in Physics, and Princeton Primers in Climate series and more!

You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. January 5th-9th, come visit our booth. Co-author of Statistics, Data Mining, and Machine Learning in Astronomy: A Practical Python Guide for the Analysis of Survey Data  Željko Ivezić will be signing books at 2:00 Wednesday, January 8th at the booth. Also follow #AAS223 and @PrincetonUnivPress on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

W. Patrick McCray Win the 2012 Eugene E. Emme Award

W. Patrick McCray - The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future
Winner of the 2012 Eugene E. Emme Award for Astronautical Literature, American Astronautical Society

The annual Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Awards, named for NASA’s first Historian, recognize outstanding books which advance public understanding of astronautics through originality, scholarship and readability. For more information about the AAS Emme Award, click here. 1969, Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill began looking outward to space colonies as the new frontier for humanity’s expansion. A decade later, Eric Drexler, an MIT-trained engineer, turned his attention to the molecular world as the place where society’s future needs could be met using self-replicating nanoscale machines. These modern utopians predicted that their technologies could transform society as humans mastered the ability to create new worlds, undertook atomic-scale engineering, and, if truly successful, overcame their own biological limits. The Visioneers tells the story of how these scientists and the communities they fostered imagined, designed, and popularized speculative technologies such as space colonies and nanotechnologies.

Patrick McCray traces how these visioneers blended countercultural ideals with hard science, entrepreneurship, libertarianism, and unbridled optimism about the future. He shows how they built networks that communicated their ideas to writers, politicians, and corporate leaders. But the visioneers were not immune to failure–or to the lures of profit, celebrity, and hype. O’Neill and Drexler faced difficulty funding their work and overcoming colleagues’ skepticism, and saw their ideas co-opted and transformed by Timothy Leary, the scriptwriters of Star Trek, and many others. Ultimately, both men struggled to overcome stigma and ostracism as they tried to unshackle their visioneering from pejorative labels like “fringe” and “pseudoscience.”

The Visioneers provides a balanced look at the successes and pitfalls they encountered. The book exposes the dangers of promotion–oversimplification, misuse, and misunderstanding–that can plague exploratory science. But above all, it highlights the importance of radical new ideas that inspire us to support cutting-edge research into tomorrow’s technologies.

W. Patrick McCray is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Keep Watching the Skies!: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age (Princeton) and Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology.

William Bialek Wins the 2013 Swartz Prize

William Bialek, Winner of the 2013 Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to William Bialek, PhD, of Princeton University. The $25,000 prize, supported by The Swartz Foundation, recognizes an individual who has produced a significant cumulative contribution to theoretical models or computational methods in neuroscience. The award was presented during Neuroscience 2013, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

To read the full press release about the award, click here.

BiophysicsWilliam Bialek is the John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics at Princeton University, where he is also a member of the multidisciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and is Visiting Presidential Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the coauthor of Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code and the author of Biophysics: Searching for Principles.

Featuring numerous problems and exercises throughout, Biophysics emphasizes the unifying power of abstract physical principles to motivate new and novel experiments on biological systems.

  • Covers a range of biological phenomena from the physicist’s perspective
  • Features 200 problems
  • Draws on statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and related mathematical concepts
  • Includes an annotated bibliography and detailed appendixes
  • Forthcoming Instructor’s manual (available only to professors)

Tune in to Science Friday today to hear A. Douglas Stone discuss Einstein and the Quantum

Stone_EinsteinQuantum_jktWe’re really excited to hear Doug Stone talk about Einstein’s surprising contributions to quantum theory on today’s Science Friday. If you listen live, he will be on in the 3:00 – 3:30 hour.

Science Friday has also helpfully posted an excerpt from Stone’s book Einstein and the Quantum for listeners.