About the Book

From the author of The Joy of Pi and The Flying Book, an engaging new guide to the amazing unseen world around us.

How can we understand the world of the atom or the size of our galaxy? How do we grasp a billionth of a second or a billion years? Spectrums tackles these questions by exploring realms far outside our everyday experience that boggle the mind and inspire a sense of wonder. With easy-to-read, engaging, and insightful observations, Blatner re-introduces us to six fundamental spectrums in the world around us: numbers, size, light, sound, heat, and time. Offering fascinating glimpses of hidden realities, Spectrums is full of hundreds of facts, quotes, illustrations, and anectodes that lead to a greater appreciation of the bizarre and beautiful world in which we live.

What People Are Saying About Spectrums

“I love this book! The writing and imagery are beautiful, as is the layout. Blatner is a witty and awesome tour guide to areas beyond our perceptual horizon, from speeds at which hummingbirds fly, to cell phone ring tones too high for adults to hear, to mountains taller than Everest but which begin underwater. This is an indispensable manual if we want to grok–deeply understand–our world.”

–Dr. Robert P. Crease, author of World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement, Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University

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Walker & Company
A Division of Bloomsbury USA
Release date: November 2012
$25.00 Hardcover, 192 pp, 7″ x 8″
ISBN-13: 9780802717702
ISBN-10: 0802717705

Reading Group Questions

Whether you’re a member of a book club, or just want to get a deeper appreciation for the book, you can download this list of review questions, in PDF format.

Why Spectrums instead of Spectra?

We use the plural “spectrums” instead of “spectra” for a reason: The latter has unfortunately gained the supernatural connotation of ghosts and spirits. Although spectrum, spectra, spectral, and spectre all derive from the Latin word for “apparition” or “vision,” we often apply them to experiences that have nothing to do with what we can see. This is similar to how, over the last century, a number of words with roots in science—such as dimension, evolution, and even energy—have expanded their meanings far beyond their original intention. Today, the word spectrum indicates virtually any broad range of characteristics or ideas.


This page contains a list of any factual errors that we’ve found since the book was printed.

Contact Us!

If you have a question that isn’t answered here on the site, then please send us a comment or query to info@spectrums.com.