Hidden Wonders

Hidden Wonders

The Subtle Dialogue Between Physics and Elegance

By Etienne Guyon, José Bico, Étienne Reyssat and Benoît Roman

The hidden elegance in everyday objects and physical mechanisms, from crumpled paper to sandcastles.





The hidden elegance in everyday objects and physical mechanisms, from crumpled paper to sandcastles.

Hidden Wonders focuses on the objects that populate our everyday life—crumpled paper, woven fabric, a sand pile—but looks at them with a physicist's eye, revealing a hidden elegance in mundane physical mechanisms. In six chapters—Builders, Creating Shapes, Building with Thread, From Sand to Glass, Matter in Motion, and Fractures—the authors present brief stories, set in locales ranging from the Eiffel Tower to a sandcastle, that illustrate the little wonders hidden in the ordinary. A simple experiment that readers can perform at home concludes each story. More than 200 illustrations bring the stories to life.

Through these stories and images, the authors explain the amazing mechanisms that govern the elements that surround us, offering a close look at the subtle dialogue of form, force, and function. They connect the underlying physics to a range of applications: crumpled graphene sheets that may be used in batteries, wet-hair physics that must be taken into account in the manufacturing of mechanical microdevices, pine cone mechanisms used in contemporary architecture, and more. Each chapter offers striking two-page spreads of text and images.


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262539890 324 pp. | 6.3 in x 8.25 in


  • How everyday objects reflect deep and beautiful mathematics and physics. You'll never look at a bubble, a spider's web, or a wineglass in quite the same way again. Utterly fascinating!

    Ian Stewart

    author of Do Dice Play God?, Calculating the Cosmos, and The Beauty of Numbers in Nature

  • Hidden Wonders is a lovely reminder that amazing science needn't be exotic or remote, but surrounds us every day with riches at the same time reassuringly familiar and constantly surprising.”

    Philip Ball

    author of Patterns in Nature, Beyond Weird, and The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science

  • From why things break to why they hold together, from why cut flowers wilt to why arches can stand for centuries, from the drape of a necklace to the strength of sea shells, Hidden Wonders is endlessly entertaining and enlightening. With clear prose, engaging illustrations and kitchen-table do-at-home experiments, this fun and accessible book will give you a new appreciation for the wonders of the world—both natural and man-made—that surround us every day.

    James Kakalios

    Professor of Physics, University of Minnesota; author of The Physics of Superheroes and The Physics of Everyday Things