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Feb 13, 2002: Pain and Books

WARNING: narcissism ahead

Great pain.

I just wrote a highly entertaining entry explaining why Bloug will be fairly quiet for the rest of the month (polar bear book's second edition manuscript is due 2/28).

And I had a beautiful segue into explaining why you should go out and buy these two really great science books, along with succinct reviews studded with all sorts of hip scientific references:

Then a system crash. Now my wonderful Bloug copy is gone gone gone. Argh.

So I'll leave you with this much condensed entry instead. Happy February.

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Comment: peterme (Feb 13, 2002)

Coming of Age in the Milky Way is one of the best popular science texts I've ever read. To begin with, Timothy Ferris is a great writer--deft with words, never ponderous. He's also done an amazing amount of research--the depth with which he covers the subject (the history of the study of astronomy and astrophysics) is astounding. The sources he cites, the details he relays.

It's an amazing science book because it's as much about the scientists as it is their discoveries. And these are a quirky bunch, all with interesting histories. It reads like a series of mini-biographies.

And the science, well, is fascinating. Reading the book, your knowledge of astrophysics grows in much the same way it did for Western culture.

Comment: Lou (Feb 13, 2002)

Amen; it really is well-written. Ferris starts with the ancients' views of the universe, and builds on those on through Copernicus, Gallileo, Newton, up to the present. Each builds on their predecessors' ideas; for example, I found it very cool (and surprising) to learn how Einstein drew from Darwin. Also enjoyed how Ferris describes the connection between the biggest and smallest aspects of the universe (cosmology and particle physics).

Comment: Andrew (Feb 14, 2002)

If you're more interested in a readable account of current cosmological ideas, Ferris' "The Whole Shebang" is much better than "Coming of Age." "C of A" is also a little dated, so it leaves out all the cool stuff like string theory and alternate universe theories.

Also excellent is Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", which is all about string theory, also very well written for the layman.

Comment: Paul (Feb 14, 2002)

I second the recommendation on "The Whole Shebang". "Coming of Age" was a great history lesson, but "Shebang" explains many present, complicated theories I knew about but never understood.

Even "Shebang" is out-of -date though (1997), especially on the neutrino issue.

Comment: Lou (Feb 20, 2002)

Thanks for the recommendations guys. Will definitely pick up "The Whole Shebang". And make another recommendation: read "Longitude" by Dava Sobel if you haven't already. Another example of great science writing (or, perhaps it should be considered "engineering writing").

Comment: Ross (Feb 25, 2002)

Lou: The most valuable piece of software I have installed in the past couple of years is a keystroke catcher. I *highly* recommend that anyone who uses a number of web-based applications find one that suits them and install it.

Keystroke catchers have been given a bad rap because of their incidious uses, but they've saved me *hours* of re-write work. I have yet to find a good one for Windows, but on the Mac, SuperSave works perfectly.

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