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The Written Image: "Categories"

In an effort to promote scientific literacy, foster an appreciation of the humanities, and encourage readers to make "informed and imaginative connections" between the sciences and the arts, New York City–based Vernacular Press recently launched a series of books titled "Categories" with the February publication of Categories—On the Beauty of Physics. The book uses literature and art, including collages by John Morse, to explain principles of physics that

readers might otherwise banish to the farthest recesses of academic memory. The image on the left is used in Chapter 21 of the book, along with excerpts from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, to illustrate the concept of "Motion." The image on the upper right appears in Chapter 4, along with an excerpt from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, to represent "Antimatter." The image on the lower right is paired with a soliloquy from Hamlet to symbolize, of course, "Uncertainty" in Chapter 34. Elsewhere in the book, Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" is used to explain "Entropy," Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury illuminates "Field," Camus's The Stranger represents "Radiation," and Beowulf exemplifies "Angular Velocity." Forthcoming from Vernacular Press in the "Categories" series is On the Beauty of Biology and On the Beauty of Chemistry.

Credit: © 2005 John Morse

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The Written Image: "Categories" (March/April 2006)
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