Book Reviews | Reader's Comments

Book Reviews

F. Duncan M. Haldane

Professor of Physics, Princeton University
2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

“I really enjoyed the Demon adventures of Max! Max the Demon gives a good introduction to central ideas of entropy and energy and is educational, as well as being fun. With a modern take on information and entropy, it will inspire school students and help them understand basic science in a fun way, but without sacrificing accuracy and correct science in the explanations! A really cool book!”

Mario Livio

Best-selling author: "Brilliant Blunders", "The Golden Ratio"

“Entropy is a measure of disorder. It’s one of those things that affects everything from the emergence of life to the cosmic expansion. I can think of no better way to introduce this concept to a non-professional, but curious audience, than this witty, entertaining book.”

Michael B. Green

Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University
Pioneer of String Theory

"[This book] explains sophisticated ideas of central importance in physics and engineering as a most imaginative story, presented in the form of a beautifully-produced, colorful comic strip. … The format and the style of presentation would appeal to the general public who are interested in popular (i.e. non-technical) expositions of deep scientific issues. Not only is the presentation of the ideas most imaginative, but the visual presentation is also exceptional. The pictures are beautifully drawn in vivid color and complement the written material perfectly. In summary, this is a most impressive book that pioneers a style of presentation that makes sophisticated ideas in physics accessible to a wide audience in the form of an entertaining and beautifully illustrated story."

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Reader's Comments (newest first)

Ben Feldman

Stanford University
3 February 2018

"I just finished reading through your (comic) book. I liked it a lot -- it was both entertaining and has beautifully simple yet insightful explanations."

Yuri Suzuki

Stanford University
2 February 2018

"My kids loved it. My daughter, who is not particularly a fan of science and math, read it three times already!" "

Almut Alexa

University of Cologne
27 January 2018

""After several weeks of shipping the book finally reached me and I enjoyed it very much! I especially liked the connection of physics (thermodynamics and other fields), history (introduction to famous physicists) and fantasy (Tachyonia) paired with a hint of humour which can also be recognized in the way of drawing. I noticed that you chose a female character (Julie) as main research representative which is a clever choice regarding the current gender discussions (at least that's a big issue in Germany at the moment)."

Roser Valenti

Goethe University
13 January 2018

"This is a really good comic book that introduces the fundamental concepts of thermodynamics such as energy and entropy in a very clever and entertaining way. The adventures of Max the demon are delightful. My family all enjoyed reading it and also my students!"

Joel Moore

Univesity of Califormina, Berkeley
08 January 2018

"My daughter is a big fan of your book (Max the Demon)—so much so that she hasn’t let me read it completely yet."

Zohar Nussinov

Washington University in Saint Louis
06 January 2018

"I must say that my kids (14, 11) were also hooked and read the book from cover to cover immediately after getting it. This has never happened for any other science book."

Vladimir Dobrosavljevic

Florida State University
06 January 2018

"My whole family enjoyed the book a lot!"

Bennet Brabson

Indiana University
5 January 2018

"Max the Demon is simply marvelous. I gave my copy to my high-school junior grandson, who is doing his first course in Physics. He devoured it with great pleasure. The physics is clear and convincing!"

Rajiv Singh

Univerisity of California, Davis
5 January 2018

"Excellent book. Beautiful illustrations."

Steve Simon

Oxford University
5 January 2018

"I really did enjoy reading Max The Demon! (A terrific treat for ending my semester when it arrived just in time!)."

Gil Drachuck

Ames Laboratory
14 December 2017

"This is a great comic book which beautifully explains the principles of thermodynamics in an a very visual and entertaining way. I would highly recommend the book to anyone who likes physics."

Tami Pereg-Barnea

McGill University
06 December 2017

"Max's adventures on earth bring about a fabulous opportunity to discuss concepts like energy, entropy and even information with adults and kids alike. I read the book with my 13, 10 and 5 year olds and they *all* loved it. Each of them took something from the book and the discussions were fascinating. Even my kindergartner who did not understand much of the physics was captured... his imagination games now include time travel and tiny robots. The older two kids (10,13) were really engaged and asked many questions about microstates and information. Questions continued well after we finished reading. In short - I recommend this book to anyone who wants to have some fun while learning about thermodynamics."

David Andelman

Tel Aviv University
05 December 2017

"From its inception two centuries ago, thermodynamics has been a subject that caused considerable frustration both to students and teachers. On one hand, thermodynamics is extremely deep and abstract, hence hard to grasp and teach. On the other hand, it is a topic of prime importance with plenty of useful applications, ranging from water purification and desalination to chemical plants and global warming.

The book of Auerbach and Codor makes a great contribution to the field by using a completely different and unorthodox approach. It lures the reader into the topics of thermodynamics by employing an imaginary, sci-fi comic style with vivid and colorful illustrations. As the readers get absorbed by the adventures of "Max the Demon", they are equally exposed to the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, and to the deep consequences of heat, energy, entropy, information and more.

For the non-professionals and professional alike, this book offers a simple view on the foundation and concepts underlying contemporary issues of renewable energies, global warming and the alarming release of CO2 into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel burning. All these issues are intimately related to the laws of thermodynamics.

I highly recommend "Max the Demon" to the scientific aficionados as well as to the general public and school students. It's an excellent starting point for an adventurous scientific journey. Moreover, it's an extremely fun journey!"

Krzysztof Wohlfeld

University of Warsaw
02 December 2017

"This is a fantastic book! Not only the basic concepts of thermodynamics are introduced so easily that probably an average "middle school student" would understand them, but it might even be helpful for some of the physics professionals. Not to mention the fact that it is an extremely entertaining story... Highly recommended!"

Alexandra Bakman

22 November 2017

"Very educational and entertaining book! A great way to study physics :) "

R. Shankar

Yale University
20 November 2017

"This truly wonderful book manages to communicate to a lay audience the essential concepts of statistical mechanics: entropy, reversibility and of course the Maxwell demon. I was quite amazed by the fact that the authors obeyed Einstein's dictum: Things should be made as simple as possible but no simpler. At each stage where the danger lurked of sacrificing accuracy to preserve comprehensibility the book came through with a most faithful description of the underlying ideas.The readers who eventually learns the nuts and bolts of the subject, will find that this book has told them all and withheld nothing. The authors are to commended on pulling this off."

Ana Akrap

University of Geneva
20 November 2017

"My almost three year old and I read our book together quite often, and we both love it. He likes Max, Boltzmann, Julie Calore, and the purple prosecutor. I like that the story is great, engaging, the art is lovely, and I enjoy the humor. There are lots of nice details. This is hands down the best physics comic that I’ve seen."

Urs Zimmermann

KZU Bülach Switzerland
19 November 2017

"The Story with Julie and Max is joyful and inspiringI nreading. It's really demonic! Never thought it was possible to show the whole Entropy-Story in such a concise way. The clear reference to the growing threat of the earth's ecosystems is superbly integrated. The basic idea to let Maxwell's Demon, with his tricky shutter and his zoom-in eyes, play the leading part in this drama is simply marvelous. Congratulation. I greatly enjoyed your book. It should be read by every physics teacher and clearly by everybody else who cares or does not(!) about our environment."

Zeev Vager

Weizmann Institue of Science
19 November 2017

"Many times, the full understanding of a theory is anticipated only after a clear connection between observations and a logical fantasy. Thermodynamics, a fundamental theory in physics, seems like an illogical fiction. Max the Demon brilliant graphical novel tells the logical fantasy of thermodynamics accurately in a language attractive to everybody."

Igal Talmi

Weizmann Institue of Science
19 November 2017

"I just finished reading your wonderful book. I cannot add too much to the most warm reviews that are listed on the back cover. I was very much impressed by the many original ideas included in the book. I only mention the visits of Max with past great physicists. Congratulations!"

Dirk Van Der Marel

University of Geneva
18 November 2017

"The story is constructed remarkably well; it can be approached and appreciated on different levels according to the readers' familiarity with the scientific subjects and the aspects of history of science. I was very much touched by the portrait of Ludwig Boltzmann, and felt a pang of regret just as Max the Demon did when he said farewell to the great scientist. The entire book is permeated by a subtle humor, both in the text and the images. It was a very good move to put this in the context of global warming and the special responsibility of mankind for having caused part of it, and now to find solutions to counter this trend. Last but not least there is the scientific educational aspect, in particular the red line in the story about the second law of thermodynamics, and the thought provoking idea that going against it is possible in principle as a stroke of luck: Wonderful."

Rudi Hackl

Walther Meissner Institute
18 November 2017

"The two copies of Max the Demon arrived today. I am really impressed and touched: Its great! Sir Bio looks like our former Bavarian prime minister and the thermodynamics professor like Duncan Haldane (what is presumably intended). … All the best and thanks a lot for this enchanting book."

Douglas Natelson

Rice University
17 November 2017

"Max the Demon and the Entropy of Doom … is an entertaining explanation of the laws of thermodynamics, with a particular emphasis on the Second Law, using a humanoid alien, Max (the Demon), as an effective superhero. The comic does a good job, with nicely illustrated examples, of getting the point across about entropy as counting how many (microscopic) ways there are to do things. … It also illustrates what we mean by temperature and heat with nice examples (and a not very subtle at all environmental message). There's history (through the plot device of time travel), action, adventure, and a Bad Guy who is appropriately not nice. … My kids thought it was good, though my sense is that some aspects were too conceptually detailed for 12 years old and others were a bit too cute for world-weary 15. Still, a definite good review from a tough crowd, and efforts like this should be applauded - overall I was very impressed."
[Full text on Doug's blog]

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