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Blip, Ping, and Buzz

Hardback
, 288 pages

67 halftones, 28 line drawings

ISBN:
9780801886652
September 2007
$32.00

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Blip, Ping, and Buzz

Making Sense of Radar and Sonar

Have you ever wondered how stealth planes achieve "invisibility," how sunken ships are found, or how fishermen track schools of fish in vast expanses of ocean? Radar and sonar echolocation—a simple matter of sending, receiving, and processing signals.

Weaving history with simple science, Mark Denny deftly reveals the world of radar and sonar to the curious reader, technology buff, and expert alike. He begins with an early history of the Chain Home radar system used during World War II and then provides accessible and engaging explanations of the physics that make signal processing possible. Basic diagrams and formulas show how electromagnetic and sound waves are transmitted, received, and converted into images, allowing you to literally see in the dark.

A section on bioacoustic echolocation, with a focus on the superior sonar systems of bats and whales and a discussion of the advanced technology of next-generation airborne signal processors, opens the imagination to fascinating possibilities for the future.

After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Mark Denny pursued research at Oxford University from 1981 to 1984, then moved into a career in industry. For nearly twenty years he developed radar and sonar systems for several multinational aerospace corporations. He is the author of Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World, also published by Johns Hopkins. Denny is now retired and lives on Vancouver Island.

"This is an impressive, enjoyable and unique book... The style is light and entertaining, without in any way trivializing the subject or appearing patronizing, and Blip, Ping, and Buzz achieves the rather special trick of being valuable both to the non-specialist and to the seasoned practitioner."

"This well written book... is highly recommended for just about everyone including, dare I say it, experts."

"The writing style is clear and sometimes whimsical, making for easy reading... An excellent addition to the ever-popular genre of books about how things work."

"Denny largely sheds the complexity of mathematical constructs, distilling their most salient features into a more qualitative understanding of radar and sonar systems."

"Indeed, Denny's writing is anything but dry and boring. He adeptly explains complex subject matter and does so with relatively simple language and minimal use of symbolic notation."

"Denny's book gets a two thumbs up from me. It is a clear, beautifully written work on a topic of great interest—and one of great mystery. Best of all, it is not a 'popular science' trivialization of the subject. It is decidedly unusual in that while a bright high school math or science student can read the majority of the book with profit, even graduate engineers will learn from it as well. I certainly did. "

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