Springfield, Ohio — What started out as an effort to help physics students better understand the equations first created by James Clerk Maxwell, which became the basis of the field of electromagnetic, has become an international phenomenon.
Best-selling author Dan Fleisch, Wittenberg associate professor of physics, recently learned that Cambridge University Press has completed negotiations to publish Korean and Chinese complex-language editions of his book, A Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations, meaning that it has truly circled the globe in less than two years. The English-language edition of the book, now in its eighth printing, has been a No. 1 best-seller in the areas of waves and mechanics, electromagnetic theory and mathematical physics, while it has also reached as high as No. 4 in the physics category on Amazon.com.
A Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations was originally published in English in January 2008, and a Japanese edition was released in April 2009.
"When I received a copy of the Japanese edition last month, I was humbled and gratified to see the amount of work that Cambridge Press and the Japanese publisher put into the translation of the text, equations and figure labels of my book," Fleisch said. "To think that they're about to go through the process again in order to make my book available to people in the most populous nation on Earth is truly overwhelming."
Fleisch made headlines last winter after he traveled nearly 700 miles to personally deliver a copy of the book to Michel Cuhaci of Ottawa, Canada, on Christmas Day 2008. Cuhaci planned to give a copy of A Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations to his nephew, an engineering student, as a Christmas present. Due to a printing error, the book was missing pages, so he gave the popular book a negative review on Amazon.com.
His rating of the book didn't change after Fleisch made the spur-of-the-moment holiday trip. His review did, however, with Cuhaci enthusiastically encouraging visitors to the Web site to purchase the book.
National Public Radio picked up the story first, which led to phone calls from other news outlets, including SkyNews in London, The Guardian and the London Daily Telegraph. Fleisch was also interviewed by the Canadian Broadcast Company for its show "As It Happens," which is heard throughout Canada and by more than 100 NPR stations in the United States. (Web site) Several Canadian newspapers also picked up the story, as have numerous Web sites, such as Fark.com.
Fleisch later heard from a reporter in Taiwan, and he has since been asked to contribute to the "Explorations in Science" Web site of Professor Michio Kaku, a world-renowned physicist and best-selling author. "The Book Depository" in the United Kingdom has also asked Fleisch to provide a list of 10 books that have been important to him.
A Student's Guide to Maxwell's Equations is filled with student-friendly features, including podcasts and interactive solutions on the book's accompanying Web site. Since Maxwell's equations are the basis of radio, television, radar, wireless and other communications technology, Fleisch decided the time was right for a book dedicated to them while on sabbatical in 2005. He researched Maxwell's work at Cambridge University in England and at the Maxwell Foundation in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 2007 recipient of Wittenberg's top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, Fleisch is an expert in the areas of radar cross-section measurement, radar system analysis and ground-penetrating radar. A member of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers. Fleisch received his B.S. in physics from Georgetown University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in space physics and astronomy from Rice University. He joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1998.
Written by: Ryan Maurer