A New Mr Tompkins!

in The LIFESTYLE LOUNGElast year


Those of us who studied Physics (or other Sciences...) in the last century (haha, that joke still never gets old!) would be familiar with the Mr Tompkins set of stories by the famed physicist George Gamov. Written from 1939-1967, The adventures of Mr Tompkins were an exploration of the various facets of Science as the title character would drift off during a science lecture and be transported into a world where the various aspects of the physical Universe took on values that made them much more apparent to everyday macroscopic life.

For instance, in one of the more well known stories, the speed of light would reduce down to a walking speed. This would mean that anyone travelling near the speed of light (a light walk or cycle...) would be noticeably affected by the laws of Special Relativity (our everyday experience of this reality is so minute as to be mostly ignorable). This would mean that the linkages between space and time would be quite differently experienced just by walking out the door onto the street!

Later books and stories delve into other fields of Physics like Thermodynamics and Cosmology... with even a foray into Biology!

So, imagine my surprise when I found this new updated "edition" of Mr Tompkin's adventures! In fact, I had bought the comic book thinking that it was a visual novel retelling of the original stories that I could share with my oldest daughter....


... but it really isn't!

It is a completely new retelling of the Mr Tompkins story, where the character meets various scientific icons of the past who explain the physical universe via slightly more action packed scenes and graphics. It is a bit disconcerting at first to see the old character depicted in comic panes that resemble the pulp fiction sci-fi comic books of the last century... but after a while, you do start to think that it is the perfect setting! At least, the sci-fi pulp fiction really seems to fit in well!

Mr Tompkins (pictured on the front cover) looks a bit more like a super-villain than a slightly dozy inquisitive mind... but it has been really quite engaging reading. I can imagine it would be a welcome change of pace for late primary school kids to be able to read a comic book for Science... and to be slowly infected by ideas that are outside their normal realm of experience, and it does it in a way that can evoke quite a bit of the awesome wonderfulness of the Universe.


Looking at the author, I realise why I had made the mistake of thinking that it was the original set of stories... Igor Gamov is the son of the famed Physicist and a pretty impressive mind in his own right. I must have been thrown off the scent of the old stories when I did a search for Gamov and Tompkins!

I'll be looking forward to reading this with my oldest, although, last night she took a look at the cover and thought it was going to be waaaayyyyyyy too scary for her. Perhaps I should start with the little one... if I can drag her away from My Little Pony....

... still, this is a great re-imagination of the original Mr Tomkins, but I still have a hankering for the old stories. I will look again to find them, this time with the knowledge that the character has taken a new fictional life of his own!

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I've never seen Mr. Tompkins before, but I have once read a Cartoon History of Philosophy. It was a similar genre, but of philosophy as opposed to physics.

Ahhh... philosophy... a much more difficult topic than Physics!