Discussion in 'Community' started by droideka27, Aug 31, 2005.
Deadly Spin. Non-fiction. What up, *******?!
The Ghost of Jim Crow: How Southern Moderates Used Brown v. Board of Education to Stall Civil Rights.
Anders' thesis: Everyone was concerned over church bombings, firehoses, and governors standing in front of school doors....yet the insidious segregationists working behind the scenes are largely ignored.
Just re-started Gore Vidal's Lincoln. Spielberg film won't be in my city until next week, but I'm so ready to see it.
Finished a quick re-read of The Hobbit yesterday. It's now impossible to picture Bilbo as anyone other than Freeman, or Thorin son of Thrain, King under the Mountain as anyone but Armitage.
E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation (2000) - David Bodanis
Everyone knows that E=mc2 is really important, but they usually don’t know what it means, and that’s frustrating, because the equation is so short that you’d think it would be understandable.
It is, on first glance, one of the most intriguing ideas of recent literature: really explaining something that we all have heard of and yet know nothing about. Albert Einstein and those five symbols have changed the world as we know it and yet most of us could not, if threatened with death, even begin to explain how and why.
Thus, this biography. A biography, Bodanis says, tells a story of something and by that story the something is explained. And so, with that in mind, this book delves into those five symbols, viewing the life of the equation as a story. First, dealing with the ancestors, Bodanis dedicates a chapter to each of the five symbols, explaining in detail what they mean and why they mean it.
And in each of these chapters, he weaves fascinating stories, not just scientific treatises. Voltaire, Michael Faraday, Ernest Rutherford, Robert Oppenheimer, Galileo, these are just a few of the men who have interacted with this equation in meaningful ways. Told with real wit and literary skill, this book is as often hilarious and charming as it is heady and intellectual. Perhaps, no, probably, even more often.
It’s in this approach to science that Bodanis achieves a masterful result; it’s less about the dry facts and more about the repercussions, the ramifications, the poetry of the universe and the lives of those people behind the symbols. By the time you’re finished, you feel as though you not only understand the equation (a fairly simple thought, really, as, Bodanis hints, all the truly great thoughts are), but also the people involved and the reasons why it means what it does.
It’s a book that doesn’t shimmer so much as reflect. In reading the section dedicated to gravity and the measurement of it over distance, I raced up a flight of stairs fully ten times in order to drop various objects and really, for the first time in years, really watch something fall and really think about it . . . the natural world shines with a rare luminosity while one is in the thrall of Bodanis’ book; the sky seems deeper and wider than ever before. One finds oneself picking up large rocks and throwing them, seeing the mass, seeing the energy, watching the dust fly when they strike ground.
It was, I believe, Annie Dillard who remarked on the similarity of purpose between prayer in the cathedral and the experiment in the laboratory. Both, she said with that elegant simplicity at which she excels, are simply humanity saying, “Hello?”
And there is that elegant beauty and passion here; Bodanis takes heavy concepts and makes them, not just accessible, but openly life affirming. This is a book where the numbers, the concepts, are windows to the magic behind a blade of grass and insight into the incredible power resting in our own bodies.
There’s a rare kind of sensibility here; it is the principle of this equation that began the world and it’s that same principle that will end the world. Fire or ice? Bodanis asks. At this point, it could go either way. And the ending of the book is one of rare stillness, rare beauty and embodies the pure literary and poetic perfection of scientific thought at its best.
It is, finally, a hymn to potential, a hymn to fullness and to power, to power and consistency and how those two things, at bottom, are one and the same. A magical book, exploding on the inward eye with the power of journalism, the wit of satire and the starburst light of poetry.
5 out of 5 stars.
Slaying the Badger: Lemond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France by Richard Moore.
@Rogue1-and-a-half That book sounds AWESOME!!
Star Wars: Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller
Read A Swiftly Tilting Planet while on sabbatical from electricity, started Many Waters today.
I am rereading Neuromancer.
The Last Dancer Daniel Keys Moran
The third novel in the Tales of the Continuing Time series.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The titular store has few customers, books written in code and a mysterious lending program.
Both of these sound fascinating ... tell me more.
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
@Rogue1-and-a-half, if you like E = mc^2, wait till you get to E^2 = (p^2)(c^2) + (m^2)(c^4).
North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States 1790-1860 by Professor Leon Litwack
Now that my classes are practically over, I think I'm going to go re-read Jurassic Park and give my brain a rest. lol.
The Last Dancer: In Moran's future world, the Earth has been united under one government, cyborg Peace Forcers do what they do and the internet has continued to pervade society. The first novel in the series, Emerald Eyes, focuses on the creation of telepaths - genetically altered humans with superpowers. The second novel, The Long Run, follows one of the genetically enhanced (genie) children who uses his skills to steal and is on the run from the elite of the Peace Forcers. The Last Dancer (I am on page 260 of 1498) stars a female telepath who has trained as a dancer and martial artist and is the bodyguard of a high ranking government official. Meanwhile, a being is thawed from a time warp field after 30,000 years.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: An unemployed web designer takes a night shift job at a 24-Hour Bookstore in San Francisco. The retail business is a front for a mysterious club whose members solve codes found in a selection of books borrowed from the store. Members move to higher levels of the secret society by unraveling mysteries found in the books. The newest, tech-savvy employee uses a computer to crack the initial codes far quicker than anyone ever has before. He reports for work the next evening to find the Book Store closed and the owner missing.
Those books sound fascinating! I'll have to read them, including the one on E=mc squared.
I'm currently re-reading "The Illearth War," the second in the trilogy of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever. The first one is "Lord Foul's Bane," and the last one is 'The Wounded Land,' IIRC.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
@King_of_Red_Lions The first doesn't seem like my thing, but I might check out the second.
I'm finally continuing my reread of Wheel of Time. Right now I'm making my through Crossroads of Twillight.
I read Lord Foul's Bane a few years ago. I never continued the series - partly because I was unimpressed with the first book and partly because it was difficult to find the second and third books at my local libraries. Does the series improve?
About to start An Acceptable Time, last of the Quintet of Time series.
About to start Wheel of Time 3: The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan.
Finished Neuromancer. I might go on with Count Zero.
Started WoT #2, The Great Hunt.
To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer