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Hidden Wonders

The Subtle Dialogue Between Physics and Elegance

Etienne Guyon, Jose Bico, Etienne Reyssat, Benoit Roman


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The hidden elegance in everyday objects and physical mechanisms, from crumpled paper to sandcastles.

Hidden Wonders focuses on the objects that populate our everyday life--crumpled paper, woven fabric, a sand pile--but looks at them with a physicist's eye, revealing a hidden elegance in mundane physical mechanisms. In six chapters--Builders, Creating Shapes, Building with Threads, From Sand to Glass, Matter in Motion, and Fractures--the authors present brief stories, set in locales ranging from the Eiffel Tower to a sandcastle, that illustrate the little wonders hidden in the ordinary. A simple experiment that readers can perform at home concludes each story. More than 200 illustrations bring the stories to life.

The MIT Press, 9780262539890, 324pp.

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

About the Author

Étienne Guyon is Emeritus Professor at ESPCI (Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution), a fellow of the American Physical society and of the Institute of Physics, Honorary Director of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, and coauthor of Built on Sand: The Science of Granular Materials (MIT Press). José Bico is Associate Professor at ESPCI-PSL (Paris Science Lettres Université). Etienne Reyssat and Benoît Roman are CNRS researchers. All authors work at PMMH (Physics and Mechanics of Heterogenous Media) lab of ESPCI-PSL in Sorbonne Université.