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by Bob Berman
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Astronomy writer Bob Berman manages to make what might be potentially a dry, overly academic topic interesting and totally comprehensible for the lay reader in this book that addresses the speed at which things around us move.

When I first picked up this volume I thought I would probably give it a quick skim and then go on to something else. But after two chapters I was hooked and decided that I'd read the whole thing, or at least keep going until my interest flagged. It never did!

Much to Bob Berman's credit, he took very complex and potentially BORING material and made it something a former English major could pretty much understand. Thanks to the author's conversational style and occasionally humorous commentary, I was able to grasp more of this material than I ever did sitting in a college physics class.

We live in a world where there is movement all around us. We are very much aware of some of this movement - like an earthquake or hurricane - but in many instances we are totally oblivious to what is creeping beneath our feet or zooming through our very bodies.

In this book the author explores how motion shapes every aspect of the universe. Drawing on astronomy, geology, biology, meteorology and other fields, Berman addresses everything from the viscosity of common fluids (there are substances slower than molasses) and the movement of water, to the dazzling speed of invisible objects such as infrared photons, neutrinos and light itself.

Thankfully it was only in the final chapter on infinite speed - where Berman moved into quantum theory vs. locality and the Copenhagen interpretation - that he lost me. But by that time there were fewer than twenty pages remaining in the book so I didn't mind the fact I had no idea what was being discussed here.

By the time you finish this entertaining and highly informative book you'll be looking at the world around you differently. Blowing sand, blood coursing through the human body, moving galaxies, lava, and light particles that travel the width of two human hairs in a trillionth of a second are just a few of the things you'll realize are affecting our lives. You'll be much more aware of the fact that we do not live in a static universe. In one way or another, there is movement everywhere.

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