In 'Physics for Rock Stars,' McKinley uses science to explain life

Christine McKinley's ode to the laws of the universe.Christine McKinley believes you can get what your heart desires more easily if you work with the universe rather than against it.

“If I face reality like I face the laws of physics, my life’s going to be better,” says McKinley of the History Channel 2, or H2, TV show “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” as well as bassist for Portland pop rock trio Swan Sovereign.

A mechanical engineer, McKinley has written a new book “Physics for Rock Stars — Making the Laws of the Universe Work For You” ($16, Perigree/Penguin Group). The book examines how such phenomena as gravity, force and friction contain principles applicable to everything from dating to working. We all may be born into different circumstances, from poverty to wealth, but we can use the universe’s laws to improve our lives regardless of how they start, she contends.

“Even the luckiest people feel gravity,” she writes in one chapter. “Sure, the Princess of Sweden had the foresight to choose more beautiful and privileged parents, but you’re both here now. Maybe she is a silver bullet shot from a saint’s pearl-handed pistol and you are a rock dropped from a working class angel’s sweaty hand, but you are accelerating toward the ground at exactly the same rate.”

McKinley will discuss her book’s concepts, as well as perform, at Nerd Nite, which takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, in the Clinton Street Theater, 2522 S.E. Clinton St. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Take her chapter on buoyancy, titled “Prepare to Float” — life will present you thousands of moments when you must sink or swim, she writes.

“I prepare for them like an iceberg. With only a small part of me visible to the rest of the world, I build an organized structure underneath the waterline,” she writes. “All the sit-ups, homework, research, organization, and vegetable eating I do to build my underwater structure are done in private and without any excitement.”

Successful people are like icebergs, she adds — we don’t see the huge underlying structure of preparation that allows them to seemingly float through life’s waters.

“It’s always bigger than we think it needs to be,” she writes of such people’s undergirding structure of effort.

For more information about McKinley, visit

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