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About the book
  • Published: 20 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784160753
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $28.00
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Storm in a Teacup

The Physics of Everyday Life




Physicist and rising BBC star, Dr Helen Czerski shows that science isn't something complicated for someone else somewhere else but all around us, happening right now in pigeons, teacups and cakes.

Just as Freakonomics brought economics to life, so Storm in a Teacup brings physics into our daily lives and makes it fascinating.

Our world is full of patterns. If you pour milk into your tea and give it a stir, you’ll see a swirl, a spiral of two fluids, before the two liquids mix completely. The same pattern is found elsewhere too. Look down on the Earth from space, and you’ll find similar swirls in the clouds, made where warm air and cold air waltz.

In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski links the little things we see every day with the big world we live in. Each chapter begins with something small – popcorn, coffee stains and refrigerator magnets – and uses it to explain some of the most important science and technology of our time.

This is physics as the toolbox of science - a toolbox we need in order to make sense of what is around us and arrive at decisions about the future, from medical advances to solving our future energy needs. It is also physics as the toy box of science: physics as fun, as never before.

  • Pub date: 20 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784160753
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $28.00

About the Author

Helen Czerski

Helen Czerski was born in Manchester. She is a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department at University College London. As a physicist she studies the bubbles underneath breaking waves in the open ocean to understand their effects on weather and climate.

Helen regularly presents BBC programmes on physics, the ocean and the atmosphere – recent series include Colour: The Spectrum of Science, Orbit, Operation Iceberg, Super Senses, Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, as well as programmes on bubbles, the sun and our weather. She is also a columnist for Focus magazine, shortlisted for PPA columnist of the year in 2014, and has written numerous articles for national newspapers.

She lives in London.

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Praise for Storm in a Teacup

“A quite delightful book on the joys, and universality, of physics. Czerski’s enthusiasm is infectious because she brings our humdrum everyday world to life, showing us that it is just as fascinating as anything that can be seen by the Hubble Telescope or created at the Large Hadron Collider.”

Jim Al-Khalili

“If you've ever felt like understanding how things work is just too big a mountain to climb then read this book. It'll carry you gently to the peak and show you how stunning and beautiful the view is. It is rare that someone can explain that which seems endlessly complex and makes you feel like in fact you'd understood it all along. Helen Czerski's book does just that. Fun, fascinating and brilliantly well written - 'Right there, in my teacup, I can see the storm.' Me too and I know what it is now.”

Marcus Brigstocke

“This book is charming, accessible and enthusiastic. Helen invites you in to see the world through a her eyes and understand how a physicist thinks. It's a wonderful way to discover the hidden scientific connections behind the ordinary and everyday.”

Dr Hannah Fry

“Helen Czerski's absorbing Storm in a Teacup stands head and shoulders above other popular science books. The little fascinations we left behind in childhood are but her jumping-off points for the really, really big picture ... Hers if the kind of self-assured, endearing nerdishness that doesn't wait to see if you're on board: she pulls you along, anticipating your head-scratching at every fluorescing scorpion and swirling drop of milk in your teacup.”

The Irish Times

“In a friendly, chatty style that includes anecdotes from her personal and professional life, Czerski manages to make spilled coffee fascinating; tree growth astonishing; telecommunications intuitive.”

Physics World

“[Helen Czerski] has a formidable knack for explaining mind-bending concepts in easy-to-understand language ... the book to read this week.”

Science Focus

“Helen Czerski has a remarkable knack for finding scientific wonders under every rock, alongside every raindrop, and inside every grain of sand.”

Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life

“The written equivalent of a spectrum beaming out from a prism. Thanks to Helen’s brilliantly engaging book you’ll never consider anything to be mundane or ordinary again.”

Jon Culshaw

“In this diverting kaleidoscope of reflections on the connections between the everyday and the big things in life, Czerski – a physicist and rising BBC star – reflects on the physics of all around us as she links what makes popcorn pop to Antarctic winds, coffee stains to blood tests, scorpions to cyclists and ketchup bottles to aliens in space. Never has stirring a mug of tea been so fascinating.”

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

“Storm in a Teacup is a course in physics, but it’s less like a classroom than a long walk with a patient, charming, and very, very learned friend. Helen Czerski has a remarkable knack for finding scientific wonders under every rock, alongside every raindrop, and inside every grain of sand.”

Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

“The use of everyday topics to explain complex physics in an easily understandable way is only helped by the brilliant narrative style, which is a pleasure to read. You'll be fascinating your friends with everyday science facts for weeks afterwards! *****”

How It Works

“There is real science in Czerski’s stories, and it’s described in a serious manner. But what I love about the book is that it is always clear that science is a human-centered activity performed by people. Storm in a Teacup will entertain and educate any person with a healthy curiosity about the natural world... Encourage her to write more; buy this book.”

Brad Halfpap, Physics Today


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