The Physics of the Buffyverse, by Jennifer Ouellette

I'm no physicist, but I like to keep an eye on the science news, lest I end up sounding like an idiot when chatting with my in-laws, who are all science teachers or geotechnical engineers. That's why I was so excited to read Jennifer Ouellette's The Physics of the Buffyverse. "Great", I thought. "I like both physics and Buffy. It'll be like peanut butter and chocolate!"

Jennifer Ouellette majored in English, but she's made a career out of writing about science. She used her writing skills, science knowledge and pop culture-savvy to produce 2005's Black Bodies and Quantum Cats, which attempted to explain concepts like Einstein's theory of special relativity by comparing them to The Da Vinci Code and the Olsen twins. With The Physics of the Buffyverse, Ouellette illustrates several Newtonian, relative, and quantum physics concepts, using examples drawn from episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: E=MC2 is used to explain why it was so easy to turn Amy into a rat but so tough to turn her back into a human, and chapter eight suggests that all those inter-dimensional portals might have some scientific backing.

Ouellette's book left me glowing with smug nerdiness. I can't claim to understand all--or even half--of what she said, and she could have done a more thorough job of explaining the underlying physics, but I can spit out the bullet points like a champ. The first few chapters of the book were a bit like the first week of your high school physics class, but things really picked up by the time we got around to thermodynamics, while Paul Dlugokencky's serviceable illustrations helped to clarify difficult concepts and break up the text. The Physics of the Buffyverse wasn't perfect, but Ms. Ouellette did a solid job of taking a somewhat dry topic and making enjoyable for the masses. It was a two-for-one special--educational and fun!--that will really come in handy the next time my wife's family has a dinner party.
Posted by: Julianka


07 Mar, 2007 06:02 PM @ version 0

I'm no physicist either, but I too like to flip through the ol' Popular Science magazine. I'll have to pick this up--thanks for the rec!

14 Mar, 2007 10:55 PM @ version 0

I'm a little biased, but her first book, Black Bodies and Quantum Cats, was pretty good too.

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