New release! An award-winning Oxford physicist draws on classic sci-fi, fantasy fiction, and everyday phenomena to explain and celebrate the magical properties of the world around us.
If you were to present the feats of modern science to someone from the past, those feats would surely be considered magic. Theoretical physicist Felix Flicker proves that they are indeed magic—just familiar magic. The name for this magic is “condensed matter physics.” Most people haven’t heard of the field, yet more than a third of physicists identify as condensed matter researchers, making it the most active area in the subject—with good reason. Condensed matter is the solids, liquids, and gasses that surround us—and the more exotic matters—which dictate every aspect of our present existence, and hold the keys to a brighter future, from quantum computing to real-life invisibility cloaks.
Flicker teases out the magical threads that run through our daily lives. Condensed matter physics allows you to create anything abiding by the laws of reality—and often, we find that those laws can be bent. Flicker explains how to create new particles which never existed before, how to make crystals shoot out such intense light they can cut through metal, how to separate the poles of a magnet. And more.
The book’s endearing conceit is that you, the reader, are an aspiring wizard whose ability to cast spells (i.e. to do science) is dependent on your grasp of the fundamentals of our universe. This book contains no equations or charts—instead, it’s full of owls and mountains and infinite libraries, and staffs and wands, and martial arts and mythical islands ruled by sage knot-makers. Part of the book’s magic is that, for all these fanciful trappings, it still feels practical and applicable. The Magick of Physics will open your eyes to the miracles that surround us.
By Felix Flicker. Hardcover. 335 pages. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2023.