Hilarie
Rating: 5/5
Genre:  Nonfiction, Science, Current Events
Reading Challenges:
Book 3 for 100+ in 2009

What information does a president of the United States really need to know to make informed decisions about some of the most important issues we are facing as a nation and as a global community?  Richard Muller believes that some of this knowledge should be an understanding of the basic principles of physics.  

I loved the format of this book.  Muller writes this book as though the reader was the next president of the United States.  The book applies basic physics to a better understanding of five key areas:  terrorism, energy, nukes, space, and global warming.  I found this book to be truly enlightening.  Almost daily I am bombarded by news stories featuring the challenges we are facing in at least one of these areas.  Muller presents the facts, in a fair and balanced manner (honestly, I really can't tell which political party he favors) , allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.  

For example, Muller explores why the greatest threats we face from terrorists are not "dirty bombs" or stolen nuclear weapons, and why solar powered cars are not really feasible, at least with our current technology.  Personally, I was especially intrigued by the section on global warming, and I felt that this section alone would have justified the purchase price of the book.  In each section he also presents a brief historical perspective with an emphasis on the physics involved in each situation.  I was totally fascinated by his exploration of the facts surrounding the anthrax attacks which followed the 911 attacks.  

Muller's writing style is pleasantly conversational, almost as though you were having a discussion with your own personal science advisor.  He also strikes the right balance between simplifying the physics to the level of easy understanding without insulting the intelligence of the reader.  I enjoyed this book so much that I lent the copy I borrowed from our local library to my husband, who promptly purchased a copy midway through reading the book.  This was a great read, and one that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, even to our current president.