The Wave Watcher’s Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Filed under:Science — posted by Randolph on June 21, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

The Wave Watcher's Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Gavin Pretor-Pinney discusses waves of many variety from a scientific perspective. Unlike most science books, this one is very readable. His prose is almost poetic at times, I found myself rereading a few sections for the imagery, not the science. And there wasn’t one metaphor – unless I just missed it.

The book is completely devoid of math. Still, it discusses details in a number of fields that help you to understand different phenomena. He starts and ends with ocean waves. He covers what drives them from their birth, what sustains them, and what give them their differing appearances and sizes. Different chapters discuss sound waves, supersonic flight, shock waves, light waves and more. In giving examples of different effects, he finds interesting trivia to fill the book.

One of the first things I noticed was that there is some italic text next to some paragraphs, partially indented into the text block. It seems to be fairly random at times, yet makes sense with respect to the paragraphs after having read it. My guess is that it would provide a memory assist when trying to either recall portions of the book or looking for a passage.

Overall, the book is very enjoyable and a moderately fast read. You don’t have to be a science nerd to enjoy it. If you are a science nerd, the lack of equations won’t be missed.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace