Outside the Research Lab, Volume 1

Outside the Research Lab, Volume 1

Physics in the Arts, Architecture and Design

Sharon Ann Holgate
ISBN: 9781681744681 | PDF ISBN: 9781681744698
Copyright © 2017 | 131 Pages | Publication Date: March, 2017

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This book is written for students and other interested readers as a look inside the diverse range of applications for physics outside of the scientific research environment. This first volume covers several different areas of the arts and design ranging from stage lighting to sculpting. The author has interviewed experts in each area to explain how physics and technology impact their work. These are all useful examples of how physics encountered in taught courses relates to the real world.

The author is a freelance science writer and broadcaster with credits including presenting on the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4, presenting video podcasts for a medical research charity, and appearing on a 'Boffins Special' of the Weakest Link. Her articles have appeared in Her articles have appeared in Science, Science Careers, New Scientist, The Times Higher Education Supplement, E&T, Flipside, Focus, Physics World, Interactions, Materials World, Modern Astronomer, and Astronomy Now, while her first book The Way Science Works (a children's popular science book co-authored with Robin Kerrod) was shortlisted for the Royal Society Junior Books Prize.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Where art meets technology - Using physics and materials science to create and install sculptures
3. Behind the scenes - Optics and mechanics in stage lighting and theatrical visual effects
4. Sounding good - Physics and physics-based technology in TV and radio sound recording
5. Music to your ears - The physics behind music
6. High-tech trends - Physics techniques used to create fashion and footwear
7. Building for the future - Physics within sustainable and visionary architecture

About the Author(s)

Sharon Ann Holgate, Science Writer and Broadcaster
Sharon Ann Holgate has a doctorate in experimental physics from the University of Sussex in the UK, where she was a Visiting Fellow in Physics and Astronomy for nine years, and is a Chartered Scientist and Chartered Physicist. She has worked for eighteen years as a freelance science writer and broadcaster, with broadcast credits including presenting on the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4, presenting video podcasts for medical research charity the Myrovlytis Trust and appearing on a 'Boffins Special' of The Weakest Link. Her articles have appeared in Science, Science Careers, New Scientist, The Times Higher Education Supplement, E&T, Flipside, Focus, Physics World, Interactions, Materials World, Modern Astronomer, and Astronomy Now, while her first book The Way Science Works (a children's popular science book co-authored with Robin Kerrod) was shortlisted for the Royal Society Junior Books Prize. She was a contributor to the popular science book 30-Second Quantum Theory, and her undergraduate textbook Understanding Solid State Physics is currently in use as a core text in universities around the world. She has also written careers material, case studies, and press releases for the Institute of Physics and careers material and brochures for The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, and given talks at venues including the Science Museum in London. Dr Holgate was the Institute of Physics Young Professional Physicist of the Year for 2006, won a Merit Award in the 1994 Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer of the Year competition, and was shortlisted for the radio programme category of the Association of British Science Writers' Awards in 2005. Outside of work she collects contemporary ceramics, is a regular visitor to art galleries and museums, and enjoys learning about fashion history and steam locomotives.

Reviews

Outside The Research Lab is a delightfully written monograph on applications of physics in daily life. The author, Sharon Holgate, has a PhD in physics and has worked as a freelance writer and broadcaster for nearly twenty years and is well known for her presentations on science for the general public. In this book, Sharon flexes her considerable technical muscles in describing how physics and knowledge of physics is used outside academia and in the creative world of arts and fashion. The book covers an eclectic mix of topics in 6 chapters that can be read independently of each other. The opening topic is on how physics is used to create and install sculptures. This is hardly a typical case one would expect on books of this type but it quickly becomes clear to the reader that the book has no intention of retracing old chestnuts like ‘physics of golf’ or ‘physics of football’ that frankly have now been overplayed. The chapter on use of physics in developing clothes and shoes presents some of the seldom heard of and innovative ways of applying physics in garment design exemplified by seam-free clothes or clothes infused with polymers and thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are known to deliquesce at high temperature but this otherwise undesirable feature is exploited by using ultrasound to melt and bond pieces together and achieve a look that stitching alone does not. An attractive feature of the book is that each chapter is developed in consultation with experts working in the various fields cited. For example, the role of physics to properly record sound whether in the studio or outside the studio is explained by a host of sound engineers and producers with considerable experience with speech-based radio or recording sound for TV . In the neighbouring chapter on the physics of music, the general introduction is followed by specific examples to explain how sound is produced by guitars and violins. We hear first-hand how a violin produces its sound from a physics professor who is also a violinist, the intricacies of drumming are explained by a professional drummer, and the workings of a guitar are picked up by a mechanical engineer. Sharon returns to the theme of materials science in her last chapter where she looks at use of physics in innovative architecture. The book is written in a clear, lucid and engaging style. Mindful that there are readers who might want to see explanations from first principles, the book has dedicated boxes where the basic physics is presented and discussed. In this way, the text can be read without what some may regard as the inconvenience of graphs and mathematics which are kept to a bare minimum. In this book, Sharon Holgate has managed to dispel the fearsome aura with which many associate physics. If there is one drawback, it is that the book leaves the reader wanting more. We all have our pet likes and I would have like to hear about how sopranos and other vocal technicians can project their voices over a much louder orchestra while keeping the quality of their voice warm. Luckily this highly recommended text is subtitled Volume 1 which I believe is a hint of more to come.
Prof. Makaiko L Chithambo - Rhodes University

Reviews (1)
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