(Meanwhile the over 50% of Americans who believe in angels and the roughly 6% who believe the moon landings were faked live their lives unimpeded.) Then I came across this book, which objectively and simply explains the physics behind some very adult topics like terrorism, nuclear war, and global warming. For me the bonus in reading this book was the section on global warming. While reading this section, I realized that Dr. Muller is slyly including lessons on the scientific method as well as the ethics of science.
The conceit of this book is, obviously, that it's addressed to whoever would win the Obama-McCain race: here are the bits of physics you need to understand if you're going to make the right decisions on terrorism, energy, nukes (both weapons and reactors), space and global warming. In the long chapter on global warming, Muller adopts the position of being, not a climate change denier, but a denier of the need for draconian action . On p294 there's an approving mention of a correction to the climatologists' physics from Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick? The diagrams seem plausible and the correction to the physics may be fine for all I know, but nowhere is there a mention of the fact that Pielke, McIntyre and McKitrick are extremely controversial figures in the climate debate, being champions of the AGW-denialist movement. Yet Muller, who must have known that to much of his audience the names willmean nothing, fails to alert his readers to the fact that the arguments being produced in general on AGW by Pielke, McIntyre and McKitrick (and, again for all I know, Landsea) are, to euphemize, not universally accepted. Similarly, on pp104-105 Muller discusses the estimated death toll from long-term cancers in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and tells us that the IAEA/UN best estimate for this number is 4000.
The Physics for Future Presidents It is a fascinating book using science to explain and sometimes solve todays major problems. The answer is to make oil from coal. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons are explained in detail. Global warming is presented in an interesting fashion.
The book discusses the science behind topics that would be critical to any presidency: terrorism, the fuel situation, nuclear bombs and other related topics, global warming, alternative energy...
The friend of mine who loaned this book to me to read warned me that Dr. Muller was "somewhat liberal", but, honestly, I did not see any deliberate bias in his analyses and explanation of the science issues of our day.
While he (admitedly so) gets a little personal with regards to the use of nuclear power in the States, for the most part, Muller stays politically neutral as he presents 'the facts' about the physics behind the most pressing problems that a future president is likely to face. Thus, the majority of the book presents the conceptual, theoretical and demonstrable physics behind the these pressing political, and of course, scientific, issues.
First regarding nuclear weapons, "small amounts of radioactivity have such small consequences that they could properly be ignored.