yakov isidorovich ‘y perelman’ – physics can be fun

This book published in 1913 – ‘Physics can be Fun’ – is truly a classic. I recommend it heartily to anyone (and everyone) who is fortunate enough to have a passing knowledge of English – well, that’s how I recommended it to myself in the first place! In my humble opinion, no home is complete without this book on its bookshelves. Really.

I am of the opinion that, if one really goes through the book, it would be next to impossible NOT to appreciate the wonderful world around us. Oh the pure joy! ‘Physics can be fun’ is eminently readable, sprinkled with great insights & cutesy diagrams and is a fantastic work of translation (from the Russsian original).

However, I  note that these are the stellar times of the gag reflexes – sometimes even from otherwise well accomplished people! You enthusiasitically start talking about some delightful aspect of math or literature or film or science or music or whatever, or even cooking for that matter – and you can literally (and immediately) see the eyes of your acquaintances glazing over, bulging in disbelief, as they sincerely feel that ‘I can’t do / understand it’ all the time. They tell themselves forever that they are not good at this, not good at that, they are not made to understant these things, I am like this only etc etc and so very happily settle for Aamir Khan films mediocrity! How sad… What a waste of human potential!

But, I would say that, without fail, most of the children that I have been fortunate to interact with, are always enthusiastic about learning; there have been a few exceptions – these are the cases of  some children, hapless ones at that, who suffer from:

  • the parents  who excruciatingly dote over them endlessly  (they belong to the obnoxious school of ‘helicopter parenting’) or
  • the parents who ignore their own children altogether (this set of parents belong to the school of footfallers-in-glitzy-malls and/or inveterate socialites and/or ‘keychain partycipants’).

Children are the hope of our world. Well, most of them children, at least!


A lovely english edition (among a zillion other great books!) of this Y Perelman text was published by the Mir publishers of Moscow  – but subsequent to the timely demise of USSR as an idea, I suppose only a few publishers such as Dover (of USA) have been bringing out very costly, heavily marked-up editions of some of the great USSR books. But ‘Physics can be fun’ was sadly not reprinted at all, not even by any major university press – or that’s what I thought, until recently.

So, being a great fan of the book (and such others) I took it upon myself to copy and distribute the bootlegs, to any promising youngster that I came across, whose mindscape was ripe and curious enough to allow for Perelmanish digressions – in the past couple of decades.

And so, it was with much delight and satisfaction that I could locate the book once again in Chennai hill station, during my recent trip ‘to enjoy the summer holidays’ – thanks to New Century Book House. (NCBH); cool!

Book particulars: ISBN 978 81 234 1521 4 | February 2009 | 432 pages

The address / contact info of the publisher:

41-B, Sidco Industrial Estate,
Chennai – 600 098.
Phone No : 0091- 044 – 26258410, 26251968, 26359906
E-mail : ncbhbook@yahoo.co.in

The book has been produced nicely – and is priced at a meagre Rs. 250/- (some US $ 6 only!) – however it is nowhere near the great production value (and incredibly subsidized one at that!) of the Mir Publishers.

But, I don’t mean to complain that  the NCBH production is useless. It is nice too and is in a larger (therefore more readable) format than the original one. I must commend NCBH for their great service.

Amazon has a ‘not available’  link here: http://www.amazon.com/Physics-Can-Be-Fun-Perelman/dp/0828534594

I very earnestly request the readers of the blog (and anyone who is even remotely interested in life and is curious about how things happen to be the way they are) to please favourably consider buying this book. (I have bought two freshmint copies, of which one will be for the nammashaale library)

ps: scribd has a scanned copy of it; but, please buy the book so that the other great books of USSR (which have gone out of print) can see the light of the day too…

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  • sunder  On May 25, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Ramjee: Can you please buy one set (is it Part 1 and 2 like it used to be?) for us please. I was just asking my dad whether he has the nth copy at his place; but no, he has gifted that away.

    Do you have Mathematics can be fun by Ya Perelman?

    • Radhika  On November 15, 2010 at 4:32 am

      Fun with Maths and Physics by Perelman is published by Vislandra Publications. They have a stall in Bangalore Book fair. Stall no. 236

  • Ramjee Swaminathan  On May 26, 2010 at 10:21 am

    The NCBH version is vol 1 and 2 bundled into one – the form factor has changed – it is not a ‘pocket’ crown sized edition anymore – it is more like a double demmy size. But the content has been reproduced in toto. Yes, there is a copy for you.

    I did have the ‘algebra can be fun’ as also ‘astronomy for entertainment’ (I recall that there was perhaps another one – ‘figures can be fun,’ but am not too sure) – all have been lost (I think one of those acquaintances of mine could have gifted them to themselves), sadly. But, NCBH is planning to bring them out too. So there is hope.

  • Radhika  On July 2, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Real coincidence. Yesterday I gifted the book Mathematwist by T V Padma to my friend’s daughter and I then heard about Perelman’s book on Physics and Mathematics. Searched the net and found the link to this wonderful blog. Thank you for all the valuable information.

  • Zix619  On July 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Hi guys,

    I enjoyed this book very much when I was a kid. I was thinking to buy it for my own kids and I ended up here by the magic of google:

    I guess that you can find the same book from Amazon under another title:

    I hope it helps!

  • Murali Pasupathy  On January 27, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Dear Ramjee Swaminathan,
    Thank you for the information. I bought PCBF from NCBH. However, as I have read the original edition, I was a bit disappointed. Do you by any chance know if this book is available in its original form and shape?


  • Vineet  On February 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Can anyone tell me where to buy this book in Bangalore? I read this book when I was 15yrs old. Now, I want to buy it. Let me know where to buy in Bangalore.

  • Manish Shukla  On June 1, 2011 at 1:53 am

    The above content is fantastic!!!!!! Just Excellent n of great help!!!

  • asokapandian  On October 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

    i want the entertainment physics by peralman i TAMIL, part 1.and 2 where is available, and what or the other books in tamil, please send the details

    • Ramjee Swaminathan  On October 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      Please contact NCBH (Chennai) – better still, rifle through the public libraries (many of them had copies of the tamil version, ISTR) and take xerox copies of them.

      Good luck.

  • vimax  On January 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Oi, eu amo o seu weblog. Há alguma coisa que posso fazer para obter atualizações, como uma assinatura ou alguma coisa? Im pesaroso eu não estou familiarizado com RSS?

    • Ramjee Swaminathan  On August 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

      thanks for the links damitr

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