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The Physics of the Buffyverse

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The Physics of the Buffyverse

The cover from The Physics of the Buffyverse by Jennifer Ouellette

Penguin Books

The Bottom Line

Using examples from the television shows Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel science writer Jennifer Ouellette presents an engaging look at a wide range of physics topics. For those who are fans of the show, and have a passing interest in physics, this book will provide a fun read.
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Pros

  • A well-written exploration of a wide range of physics concepts
  • Contains entertaining physics examples, drawn from two popular television shows

Cons

  • Illustrations are relatively poor quality.
  • Some of the relationships between physics and the show are stretches.
  • Bibliography, but no end notes to relate text to source material for further research.

Description

  • 2006, Paperback, from Penguin books. 283 pages.
  • 10 chapters and an Introduction.
  • Contains bibliography (with episode guide to both shows) and an index.

Guide Review - The Physics of the Buffyverse

As a fan of both cult hit television shows Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel, it was a great pleasure to read The Physics of the Buffyverse. Ouellette uses examples, both mundane and supernatural, from the show to explore a wide range of physics concepts:
  • How do Newton's Three Laws of Motion play into martial arts combat?
  • How could vampires be able to see into non-visible ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum of light?
  • What role does the conservation of energy and entropy play in the casting of magic in the Buffyverse?
  • How did the Trio create those wonderful scientific toys, such as the invisibility ray?
  • Could string theory and other advanced physics concepts explain demon dimensions, alternate timelines, teleportation, and dimension portals?
  • ... and many other questions.

The main problem with any book of this type is that, by necessity, the physics explored is pretty mainstream. Those well read in the subject will find most of the material to be basic knowledge, although there are some interesting details on subjects such as string theory and strangelets, but again, anyone who reads a science magazine on a regular basis probably knows about as much about these topics as what's presented in the book.

That having been said, Ouellette does about as well with the material as one could expect. Her connections between the show and physics are usually straightforward, though at times tenuous and at times incredibly creative and insightful. The physics, of varying degrees of complexity, is explained in easy-to-read language.

For someone who enjoys the shows and doesn't have a detailed knowledge of physics, but wants to learn, this would be an excellent resource. Also a great gift for young people who are into the show!

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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