Book review: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments


Stories really do matter; they add colour and texture to the content of lessons and bring out the human drama behind the equations and experiments.

This book by George Johnson is a cracker and I think every teacher should have read it. Johnson gives us a glimpse into ten lines of experimental investigation across the sciences, six of
which are definitely physics. They include an excellent account of Joule’s mechanical equivalent of heat and also the rather alarming account of Newton experimenting on his own eye by inserting a bodkin between socket and ball and seeing how his perception of light changed!

The beauty of this well-written book is that it provides valuable insight into 10 lives and experiments without the need to read 10 weighty biographies. The chapters are short and quick to read and you’re sure to find something you can use in the classroom. A must for the bookshelf of all science teachers.

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson is widely available from booksellers.

Review by Mark Whalley, IOP coach for three years. Mark has taught physics at every level over more than 25 years and has a special interest in astronomy. 



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