Physics: Concepts and Connections (PCC)
(Addison-Wesley, 5th edition 2010)

The guiding principle of this science-literacy textbook for college or secondary school students is that science literacy is vital for democratic societies. As the American Association for the Advancement of Science puts it, “Without a scientifically literate population, the outlook for a better world is not promising.” PCC is for non-scientists and scientists who want a broad introduction to the great ideas of classical and modern physics along with their social and cultural connections. It is conceptual–non-algebraic but still “numerate”–focusing on ideas rather than mathematical techniques. Besides presenting most of the great principles of classical and modern physics, PCC emphasizes fascinating modern topics such as quantum uncertainty and entanglement, general relativity, contemporary cosmology, quantum field theory, and high energy physics, along with such social implications such as global warming, the energy future, technological risk, nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism, the scientific process, and pseudoscience. The book’s bottom line, emphasized throughout, is the scientific process, or “how do we know?” PCC has been adopted on over 135 campuses.

What professors are saying:

“This is close to ideal for true liberal arts students, especially those who want to make the world better, or at least resist unhealthy trends, and who want to argue about the things they care about. The author has a passion for relevance and environmental issues.” – Donald Franceschetti, University of Memphis

“Hobson’s textbook is both well named and well constructed. Its coverage of modern physics presents a conceptual grasp of some of the most exciting developments in the physics of our day.” – Leon M. Lederman, Pritzker Professor of Science, Illinois Institute of Technology; Resident Scholar, Illinois Math and Science Academy; Director Emeritus, Fermilab; and Physics Nobel Laureate, 1988.

“It’s an excellent introduction at a conceptual level to some of the basic principles of physics. He does an excellent job of developing his themes of the scientific process, the social conext of physics, energy, and modern physics and its significance.” – Louis Schwartzkopf, Minnesota State University

“It has the best, and most modern, discussion of quantum mechanics that I’ve ever seen–much clearer than some of the famous writers.” – Marc Sher, William and Mary

“When I examined the first edition of Hobson’s Physics: Concepts & Connections, I thought that it was the best of the many physics texts for non-scientists that I had seen, and the later editions have further improvements over the first. He presents a remarkably comprehensive survey of the physical world with lucidity, accuracy, and–above all–fascination. Hobson unforgettably reminds his readers of the social implications of physics and the inseparability of knowledge and values.” – Abner Shimony, Boston University

How did I improve the 5th edition?

In response to requests from instructors:
• Chapter 4 now inlcudes a new section on momentum.
• Chapter 8 now includes a new section on electric circuits, plus substantially more material on Coulomb’s law.
• The three sections on waves are moved into Chapter 9 so that electromagnetism (Chapter 8) and waves (Chapter 9) now occupy separate chapters.

In response to a poll of instructor opinions, I’ve dropped the chapter on the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, and moved the section on pseudoscience from that chapter to Chapter 1.

Because this book emphasizes contemporary physics and social issues, every edition needs updating in these areas. Concerning contemporary physics:
• Section 5.3 on the evolution of the solar system is substantially updated.
• Section 11.1 on the general theory of relativity is substantially updated with new material on recent highly accurate evidence for the theory.
• Chapter 12 on the quantum theories of radiation and matter, and Chapter 13 on quantum uncertainty and entanglement, are substantially updated to reflect current understanding of the role of fields in quantum physics.
• Chapter 17 on quantum fields and high-energy physics is substantially updated to include new material on the Large Hadron Collider, antimatter production, quarks, the Higgs field, neutrinos, energy fluctuations in vacuum, and string theory.

Concerning social issus:
• Sections 7.5 and 7.6 on the automobile and transportation efficiency are substantially updated.
• Section 9.8 on global ozone depletion is substantially updated.
• Section 9.9 on global warming is substantially updated to incorporate a summary of the immense research on this topic during the past four years.
• Chapter 16 on the energy future is substantially udated to incorporate new information about nuclear proliferation, renewable energy sources, biofuels, recent energy statistics, new kinds of nuclear reactors including breeder and fusion reactors, carbon capture and storage, nuclear waste, and proposed solutions to global warming.

And with every new edition I look hard at each sentence to eliminate unnecessary material and strengthen the language. This resulted in changes in nearly every paragraph. I’m proud to say that the 5th edition is 35 pages shorter than the 4th.

From the reviews of the first edition:

“It is always a challenge for an instructor to bring a feeling of connectedness to students, helping them to understand how the class relates to their own experience and interests. …Art Hobson’s new text fits in with this ideal. True to the title, …Hobson adds enrichment and variety through connections between physics and the liberal arts. It is unusual to find a physics-appreciation text that respects the intelligence of even the most sophisticated reader, while not losing sight of who the students are, what will hold their interest, and what they can reasonably hope to understand.” –Carl A. Kocher, Oergon State University, post-use review in American Journal of Physics, May 1996, p. 667.

“Hobson offers us a book with the following features: scientific literacy, modern physics, societal connections, appropriate quantitative skills, less is more, and unifying themes. Hobson delivers well on all six features.” –John L. Roeder, in STS Today, June 1995, pp. 3-6.

” The book’s technical execution is excellent. …I was surprised and pleased to find sections on extraterrestrial intelligence, astrology and creationism, all used to illuminate what one does and does not mean by ‘science’.” –Paul P. Craig, University of California at Davis, in Physics Today, August 1995, pp. 55-56.

“[Because] there is a growing split between the two cultures of science and the arts…it is very pleasing to see a book making an attempt to redress the balance from the physicists’ side and introduce arts students to the ideas, methods and practices that are physics. …The final chapter brings together all the modern physics threads introduced to show the development of the quantum field theories. …I found this chapter to be the most lucid and entertaining chapter on the subject that I have read… ” –D. I. Bate, Leo Electron Microscopy Ltd., Cambridge, in Contemporary Physics, Vol. 37, No. 5, pp. 413-415 (1996).

Further information, including Table of Contents and purchase information, from Pearson/Addison-Wesley.

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