“Electronics for Earthlings” Response

As a pre-law student with little background in science, I am thrilled to say that Kenn Amdahl more than accomplished his goal of writing a book that makes scientific concepts interesting and easily comprehensible. Evidence for this lies in the fact that a) I laughed, smiled, and forgot I was reading an assigned text multiple times, and b) I later found myself googling whether or not electrons really exist and spending time on Quora reading answers to this question. Interestingly, the many answers/responses I found were far more abstract and philosophical than the scientific, nitty-gritty answers I expected to find.

In regards to understanding electricity and circuits, I will admit I found myself a little lost in the first class – I was struggling to recall the most basic concepts from my high school science classes. After this reading, however, I understand the fundamentals once again. I could now explain to a friend the basic idea of (or process involved in) all of the subjects covered in the text: static electricity, the electron theory, elements/molecules/atoms, protons/neutrons/electrons, the chain-reactions involved in atomic explosions, voltage, current, and resistance, and circuits and switches. (I started to summarize these all in this response, but realized that it would be rather time-consuming and lengthy, and that the reader(s) of this response will in no way find such a summary useful.)

The one thing I found to be the most interesting in the text (besides the author’s begrudging attitude towards the electron theory and his inclusion of various interesting stories, dreams, and anecdotes) was the author’s emphasis on understanding scientific models as just that – models. He explained that models are not reality: models typically only highlight one aspect of what they are trying to represent and should not be conflated or made equivalent to the phenomena they portray. This is really helpful to me: in past science classes I had never been fully satisfied with the models we used, for I felt they left me with far too many questions. Understanding models as what they are – imperfect and incomplete, though helpful and enlightening tools to understand scientific phenomena – undoubtedly will help me as I continue the learning process in this class.

Lastly, in case anyone would like them, I’m attaching the notes I took while reading this text below.













[Response to There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings, Kenn Amdahl, © 1991]