Years ago I had a book that explained at a high level a college physics 1 course. It touched in gas, light, gravity and relativity. It was about 250 pages, it didn't use very much math and the relativity chapters used examples of tossing a ball on a train, and watching it from the perspective of people on and off the train. It explained gravity using a bowling ball on an elastic sheet causing other objects to roll towards it type example.

It was a type of physics-made-simple book, it had a lite elegant cover, it was written a single male author. Simple black and white illustrations throughout. I believe I saw it was written in the 90's.

Anyway, it was a great book for me and I'd like to find it for my son. I know this is a long shot but it's worth a try if there's any chance it will create a spark in his mind.


As you described the book you are searching for I thought of a book that fit that description except it may not be the same book.

I have a text book for a course given at Cal Berkeley by Professor Richard A. Muller. It is called "Physics and Technology for Future Presidents" with a subtitle of "An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know".

Chapters include:

  1. Energy and Power and the Physics of Explosions
  2. Atoms and Heat
  3. Gravity, Force, and Space
  4. Nuclei and Radioactivity
  5. Chain Reactions, Nuclear Reactors, and Atomic Bombs
  6. Electricity and Magnetism
  7. Waves Including UFOs, Earthquakes, and Music
  8. Light
  9. Invisible Light
  10. Climate Change
  11. Quantum Physics
  12. Relativity
  13. The Universe

This is an excellent book describing physics for the lay person in a way that is fairly complete and detailed as you can be without the math. And, it covers modern everyday things as examples and illustrations. Chapter 7, about UFOs, in particular the Roswell, NM sighting, is illuminating and quite interesting.

Here is the Amazon link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Physics-Technology-Future-Presidents-Introduction/dp/0691135045/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1463276770&sr=8-7&keywords=Richard+Muller

I include this link because the author has also written other popular armchair books with similar titles such as "Physics For Future Presidents". This book I am recommending is not that other book. This is actually used as a text book.

I would like to also make the comment that whatever book you were thinking of -- well, this one may be better. Go take a look at the Amazon page and spend some time with the brief contents Amazon makes available.

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    $\begingroup$ Fit the description?! This book has 536 pages and is from 2010. I can't find bowling balls, (rubber) sheets, or ball tossing on a train in it either. (Based on Google Books.) Illustrations seem to be in colour. $\endgroup$
    – Řídící
    May 15 '16 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the effort! I've read the reviews and it seems like something I myself might like to buy. The appeal of the book I once had was it's thickness... not very intimidating at a little less than 2 centimeters thick and nothing about it said text book. It hooked me. Really kicking myself for losing it :/ $\endgroup$ May 16 '16 at 13:14

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