Cover image for The new world of Mr. Tompkins : George Gamow's classic Mr. Tompkins in paperback
The new world of Mr. Tompkins : George Gamow's classic Mr. Tompkins in paperback
Stannard, Russell.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 258 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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QC71 .S775 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Mr. Tompkins is back! The mild-mannered bank clerk with the short attention span and vivid imagination has inspired, charmed, and informed young and old alike since the publication of the hugely successful Mr Tompkins in Paperback (by George Gamow) in 1965. Now, this highly affable character returns to embark on a set of adventures that explore the extreme edges of the universe--the smallest, the largest, the fastest, and the farthest. Just by following the experiences and dreams of Mr. Tompkins, readers discover and come to know the merry dance of cosmic mysteries, including: Einstein's theory of relativity, bizarre effects near light-speed, the birth and death of the universe, black holes, quarks, space warps and antimatter, the fuzzy world of the quantum, and that ultimate cosmic mystery--love. The story of Mr. Tompkins' journey to the frontiers of modern physics will delight and inform all readers. Russell Stannard is a best-selling popular science writer and the author of the critically acclaimed Uncle Albert series of science books for children.

Author Notes

Born in Odessa, Russia, George Gamow, the son of a teacher, studied at the University of Leningrad, becoming professor of physics in 1931. He emigrated to the United States in 1933 and taught at George Washington University (1934-56) and at the University of Colorado (1956-68). His scientific work covered many fields, mostly related to nuclear physics. In the field of molecular biology, Gamow suggested the triplet mechanism for coding DNA. He and his associate Ralph Alpher developed a detailed model of the early stages of cosmic evolution in the "big bang" theory. Although Gamow's basic assumption that the primordial universe contained only neutrons was incorrect, this assumption stimulated a great deal of subsequent work in cosmology.

Gamow wrote 30 popular books on astronomy, physics, and related sciences. In his "Mr. Tompkins" series (one of the most famous), Gamow used the figure of a curious, interested bank clerk as a protagonist for various journeys into quantum physics and gravity. His sense of humor is evident in his books and in his scientific career. For example, one of the key papers on the "big bang" theory is called the alpha-beta-gamma paper. In 1956, UNESCO awarded Gamow the Kalinga Prize for science writing.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Reviser's Forewordp. vii
Gamow's Preface to Mr Tompkins in Paperbackp. xi
1 City Speed Limitp. 1
2 The Professor's Lecture on Relativity which Caused Mr Tompkins's Dreamp. 10
3 Mr Tompkins takes a Holidayp. 24
4 The Notes of the Professor's Lecture on Curved Spacep. 45
5 Mr Tompkins Visits a Closed Universep. 59
6 Cosmic Operap. 69
7 Black Holes, Heat Death, and Blow Torchp. 81
8 Quantum Snookerp. 91
9 The Quantum Safarip. 113
10 Maxwell's Demonp. 123
11 The Merry Tribe of Electronsp. 140
11 1/2 The Remainder of the Previous Lecture through which Mr Tompkins Dozedp. 155
12 Inside the Nucleusp. 164
13 The Woodcarverp. 175
14 Holes in Nothingp. 187
15 Visiting the 'Atom Smasher'p. 196
16 The Professor's Last Lecturep. 229
17 Epiloguep. 244
Glossaryp. 249