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Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the…

Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the Cosmos (2000)

by Sidney Perkowitz

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Foam/Foamed materials
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
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To Sandy and Mike, with love and appreciation
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(Introduction): I have always liked coffee, but my delight took on a new dimension when I started drinking espresso and cappucino.
Take a moment to consider the world around you.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802713572, Hardcover)

A poet might ask for a more exalted image of the cosmos, but physicist Sidney Perkowitz--evidently a committed java junkie as well as a patient explainer of difficult scientific concepts--is quite happy to suggest that the universe resembles a piping-hot cup of milk-laced coffee. It is, he writes, a mixture of solids, liquids, and gases, along with something that partakes of all these states of matter but is different from them as well--namely, foam.

"Foam," writes Perkowitz, "is a surprisingly intricate formation that has impact on astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics"--and that can be only partially explained within the bounds of any one of those fields, requiring a host of disciplines to describe it properly. The foam of the sea, for instance, has extraordinarily complex properties that influence, among other things, global weather systems--and that, if harnessed, may one day yield that magical source of inexhaustibly renewable, inexpensive energy that scientists have long sought. Foam permeates and underlies the cosmos, from subatomic bits of "quantum foam" that "stir up the fundamental shape of the world" to the air-riddled magma that bubbles below planetary surfaces and the foamlike cancellous bones that bear the weight of so many animals, humans included.

You've heard of chaos theory, of butterflies that flap their wings and produce hurricanes. Perkowitz provides an endlessly entertaining introduction to foam theory, a book of popular science to enjoy with an appropriately frothy beverage close at hand. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:51 -0400)

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