How the World (and Almost Everything in It) Turns


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SKU: 9781476693705 Category:

About the Book

Everywhere, things spin—wheels turn, motors hum, tornadoes roar. This book explains the history and basic physics of spinning objects, from yo-yos, drills, propellers, and washing machines, to ballet dancers, dust devils, and bacteria.
The book gives instructive, entertaining accounts of everyday sights: Does a curve ball really curve? Why do figure skaters tuck in their arms? Can you make a disposable pen fly? How does a falling cat always land on its feet? Answers to these questions (and many others) tell the amazing story of things that spin.

About the Author(s)

Bill Gruber is an emeritus professor at Emory University. The author of numerous academic books and articles, he lives in Moscow, Idaho.

Bibliographic Details

Bill Gruber
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9370-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5116-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Of Gyroscopes and Pitchers’ Mounds 1

Chapter 1. Toy Story 7

Chapter 2. Around the House 28

Chapter 3. Amazing Grace 50

Interchapter I: A (Very) Short History of a Metaphor 67

Chapter 4. A Day at the Ballpark 73

Chapter 5. Big Wheels Keep on Turning 92

Chapter 6. Bullet Points 119

Interchapter II: Making Iron Come 137

Chapter 7. In the Sky 144

Chapter 8. A Descent into the Maelstrom 163

Chapter 9. Really, Really Big and Really, Really Small 187

Coda: James Clerk Maxwell and the Defenestration of Cats 211

Chapter Notes 213

Works Cited 221

Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Gruber explores how the sometimes counterintuitive physics of spin created a wide variety of toys, sports, useful labor-saving devices, and deadly accurate weaponry. Just as the axle and wheel revolutionized transportation on land, the propeller harnessed rotary motion to conquer the skies and sea. … No math is necessary to follow along with the physics, and detailed explanations with familiar examples (baseballs in flight, for example) make the concepts concrete before exploring more esoteric examples such as electromagnetism and aerodynamics. … An accessible and rewarding exploration of the physics of circular motion in everyday life.—Library Journal

• “As a child, Bill Gruber was given a toy gyroscope that was set spinning by pulling on a string. Decades later, he has written an ode to all things that spin, rotate, and revolve. From the theory of the Frisbee, to the origins of the roulette wheel, to the reason that galaxies rotate, his engaging and accessible writing takes you on a guided tour of the culture and the science that make the world go round.”—Sidney Perkowitz, author, Empire of Light, Universal Foam, and Science Sketches

• “Spin is a masterful example of the genre of popular science that applies philosophy, physics, and a touch of the poet to a topic that otherwise might elude us all. William Gruber sees his subject everywhere, and, through examples from salad spinners to the solar system, he helps us see it, too, and to wonder along with him: Why is everything awhirl?”—Richard Panek, author of The Trouble with Gravity: Solving the Mystery Beneath Our Feet