How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap! is a collection of essays of Weird Optics, from Edible Lasers to Why the Sun is Yellow to The Magic Lantern of Omar Khayyam. It was published by Oxford University Press in October 2013, and is available in hardcover or as an e-book
Reviews of Zap!
“This wonderfully readable collection delves deep… with topics ranging from edible lasers, popular misconceptions in optics, retroreflectors, Young’s other experiment on the wave nature of light (no, not the double slit) and many more. I certainly learned a lot about our fascinating field, and was delightfully amused. You will be, too!”
— Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan, U. Waterloo Review for Optics and Photonics News (2013)
“It’s an old-fashioned cabinet of wonders in book form, offered in the spirit of intellectual fun. It sent me down to the kitchen to see if my violet laser pointer would stimulate bright fluorescence from any of the leftover Christmas food coloring.”
— Jeff Hecht, review in Physics World (2013)
“This unique collection of essays resolves all kinds of interesting questions about optics that appear in history and popular culture. Dr. Wilk has done a splendid job in researching the material and providing answers at a level that will be accessible to a very wide range of readers.”
— Mark Fox, University of Sheffield
“Do you wonder how the rainbow was divided into colors or how ray guns came to science fiction? Stephen Wilk tells the real histories behind optical myths and stories. Great fun for the curious mind.”
–Jeff Hecht, author of Beam: The Race to make the Laser.
For more on the First Ray Gun, read Steve’s entry in the Oxford University Press blog:
The First Ray Gun Click Here
Here is Steve giving his lecture on The History of the Ray Gun at Saugus Public Library in Massachusetts
Here’s a Profile of Steve and his book in Rochester Review, the University of Rochester Alumni Magazine
Here’s another Profile in Continuum, the Alumni Magazine of the University of Utah: