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41. Cosmic Adventure: Other Secrets
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42. Candid Science III: More Converstations
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43. Dr. Joe and What You Didn't Know:
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44. Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel
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45. Complexities: Social Studies of
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46. Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful
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47. I'm Working on That : A Trek From
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48. The Fermi Solution: Essays on
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49. The Measured Word: On Poetry and
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50. La Fisica, Aventura del Pensamiento
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51. The Best American Science &
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52. Our Improbable Universe: A Physicist
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53. Science at the Extreme: Scientists
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54. Aldo Leopold and an Ecological
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55. Modularity : Understanding the
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56. Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural
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57. Acquainted with the Night : Excursions
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58. Genoma - La Autobiografia de Una
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59. The Throwing Madonna: Essays on
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60. The Dream of Spaceflight: Essays

41. Cosmic Adventure: Other Secrets Beyond the Night Sky
by Bob Berman
list price: $13.95
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Asin: 0688172180
Catlog: Book (2000-03-01)
Publisher: Quill
Sales Rank: 196094
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Have you ever wondered what happened before the Big Bang, or how we would colonize Mars, or what an alien invasion might really be like? Astronomer Bob Berman has, and in Cosmic Adventure, a collection of twenty-six profound to outrageous essays, he takes readers on a mind-bending tour of the universe, including our own planet Earth. From the most extraordinary cosmic phenomena to the basics of the natural world, Berman challenges us to look at the facts, discoveries, concepts, and awesome wonders of our cosmos in a new light. Written in entertaining, jargon-free language that even a novice stargazer will understand, Cosmic Adventure is a fun-filled, thought-provoking exploration of the secrets beyond the night sky.

Bob Berman takes you on a stellar journey in this collection of twenty-five essays that display a lively mix of science, astounding facts, personal anecdotes, and sheer playfulness. Complex, mind-stretching scientific topics become understandable in human terms as Berman links astronomy to our lives. He explores strange new mysteries raised by recent discoveries, and covers areas that haven't been discussed anywhere else before. From the "night terrors" that have haunted humankind since time immemorial to the penniless eccentric who sleeps inside the revolutionary telescope he designed, Berman's scope ranges far and wide.

Cosmic Adventure explains aspects of the physical world that have often piqued our curiosity. Who gets to name the stars? What would an alien invasion really be like? What's the inside story behind space program disasters? Why was the early Hubble goof avoidable? What's the only original idea in recent science? Why does time probably not exist at all? ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Paperback edition of "Cosmic Adventure: A Renegade ..."
FYI: This is the paperback edition of "Cosmic Adventure: Other Secrets Beyond the Night Sky" previously issued in hardcover.

5-0 out of 5 stars So-So Writer
I loved his first book (and I think I loved this one) but Berman's writing style often got in the way of this one... His attempts at humor and flowery writing just got out of hand here... Read the book, it's otherwise quite good, and see if you don't agree.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Writer
With this book, Bob Berman proves once again what an exquisite writer he is. He is funny, concise and profound. Bob has the extraordinary ability to make even the most difficult concepts in astronomy easy to understand and fun,too! His talent is drawing the layperson (such as myself) into this amazing universe and showing how humans while understanding the most difficult concepts are able to apply them to everyday life. His love of science, life and his hilarious sense of humor are apparent from beginning to end. I strongly recommend this book and his other one "Secrets of the Night Sky". Bravo. ... Read more


42. Candid Science III: More Converstations With Famous Chemists
by Istvan Hargittai, Magdolna Hargittai
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Asin: 1860943373
Catlog: Book (2003-03)
Publisher: Imperial College Press
Sales Rank: 669820
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Book Description

In this invaluable book, 36 famous chemists, including 18 Nobel laureates, tell the reader about their lives in science, the beginnings of their careers, their aspirations, and their hardships and triumphs. The reader will learn about their seminal discoveries, and the conversations in the book bring out the humanity of these great scientists. Highlighted in the stories are the discovery of new elements and compounds, the VSEPR model, computational chemistry, organic synthesis, natural products, polysaccharides, supramolecular chemistry, peptide synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, X-ray crystallography, the reaction mechanism and kinetics, electron transfer in small and large systems, non-equilibrium systems, oscillating reactions, atmospheric chemistry, chirality, and the history of chemistry. ... Read more


43. Dr. Joe and What You Didn't Know: 177 Fascinating Questions About the Chemistry of Everyday Life
by Joe, Dr Schwarcz, Dr. Joe Schwarcz
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Asin: 1550225774
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: ECW Press
Sales Rank: 123756
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Book Description

From Beethoven's connection to plumbing to why rotten eggs smell like sulfur, the technical explanations included in this scientific primer tackle 99 chemistry-related questions and provide answers designed to inform and entertain. What jewelry metal is prohibited in some European countries? What does Miss Piggy have to do with the World Cup? How can a cockroach be removed from a human ear? The quirky information offered incorporates scientific savvy, practical advice, and amusing anecdotes. ... Read more


44. Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology
by Andrew Berry, Alfred Russel Wallace, Stephen Jay Gould
list price: $27.00
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Asin: 1859846521
Catlog: Book (2002-05)
Publisher: Verso
Sales Rank: 403348
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Alfred Russel Wallace was thirty-five and stricken with malaria in the Moluccan Islands when, in a feverish 'flash of light,' he stumbled on the theory of natural selection. It was his letter to Charles Darwin about the discovery that panicked Darwin into rushing out On the Origin of Species. Wallace was a towering figure of nineteenth-century science. Not only the co-discoverer of natural selection, he was also the founder of island biogeography, a significant contributor to the fields of evolution, glaciology and anthropology, and a great writer, author of Travels in the Amazon and The Malay Archipelago. But his international scientific reputation served also as a springboard for wide-ranging forays beyond science. A passionate socialist, he wrote on pacifism, on the environmental and social effects of imperialism, on city planning, on land nationalization, on votes for women, on public health, on spiritualism, on the possibility of intelligent extra-terrestrial life, and much else besides. Culled from his books, articles and letters, this collection comprises Wallace's best and most important writing, much of which has been out of print for over a century. Ranging from the scientific to the social, from the political to the spiritual, the selection captures the essence of a great thinker—brilliant, opinionated, often quirky, sometimes wrong, but always profoundly humane. 12 b/w photographs. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars On the Origin of a Theory
This excellent collection of Wallace's writings, interspersed with commentary and vignettes by the editor, is very well done and a welcome addition to the literature about/by Wallace. The relationship, or 'delicate arrangement', between Wallace and Darwin, and the triggering of Darwin's book by the Ternate paper, is one of the strange and scandalous mysteries of the evolution of science, and a tale seldom told straight, in a tradition too many wish to fix with their own agendas and unable to quite handle the unconforming Wallace (cf. Brackman's A Delicate Arrangement). The Darwinians simply don't get it. The text contains a selection of Wallace's spiritualist views, and while these are caught up in the confusions of the first discredited 'new age' and theosophical movements of the nineteenth century and helped to discredit him, they do register Wallace's deeper insight finally than Darwin's into the problems in evolutionary theory, taken as a thesis about natural selection. Noone seems to grasp that Wallace not only co-discovered selectionist evolution, but was able to see the catch in the resulting account of the descent of man, which is the emergence of potential, not explicable in terms of adaptation. Someday the world will catch up with Wallace.
This fine book is slightly marred with Gould's tendentious remarks about Wallace in a short preface. If Wallace's reputation suffers it is partly because the Darwinian establishment keeps him in a box, witness this preface with its polite sideswiping. I hope it will increase sales with Gould's name and that readers will skip the preface for the book. Gould was quietly nervous about this aspect of his Darwin obsessiveness.
It is a mystery if ever there was one.
Stand back and consider the remarkable set of facts involved in the duo, starting with Darwin's early paper, Wallace coming from behind, the unnecessary sending of the paper to Darwin (he could have had the credit, the overall constellation of events and the resulting dialectical spread of views, something quite different from one man producing a theory. Does it not strike one as quite odd? To the Darwinian reinventors of Plato's Cave, it won't seem odd at all, they are too far gone.
I hope this is the beginning of a new proper account of biological theory, Wallace to the fore. Darwin's delay, and the missing letters, and the rigging of the Linean Society papers, do not bode well for the always-propped-up reputation of the Great Founder beside the real one, depicted here. Excellent book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wallace in a nutshell
Alfred Russel Wallace was one of the nineteenth century's most brilliant observers of man and nature. He is best known for his working out of the theory of natural selection, and the way his communication to Darwin on the subject propelled the latter into action resulting in his "On the Origin of Species." But Wallace was much more than this, and had interests a good deal more far-ranging than Darwin's. In addition to his natural selection connection, Wallace can reasonably be credited as the founder of the modern school of biogeographic thought, as history's foremost tropical naturalist and field biologist, and as one of the founders of the science of exobiology. So too, he was one of his period's most vocal supporters of spiritualism, a leader of the land nationalization movement, a prominent socialist, and an outspoken supporter of women's suffrage and opponent of mandatory vaccination.

With credentials like these, it is hardly credible that he is as little known today as he is. Certainly his "other man" status viz. Darwin hasn't helped, but neither did he during his own life attempt to draw attention to himself in all these connections. Add to this a perfectly clear and enquiring mind, a bit of naivety, and one of the most uncompromisingly pro-"little guy" understandings of the human condition, and you have a personality who is much overdue for re-examination.

Berry's anthology continues (but does not end) the recent Wallace renaissance. Berry has done a remarkable job of covering the range of Wallace's interests in just one volume, though to do so he has had to provide excerpts rather than whole works (with the exception of two or three of Wallace's most famous essays). He has also gotten the history right, and provided an editorial narrative that is mostly right on target, and pleasantly composed. If you are the kind of person who likes adventures in the realms of logical and sympathetic thinking, you'll love this collection! ... Read more


45. Complexities: Social Studies of Knowledge Practices (Science and Cultural Theory)
by John Law, Annemarie Mol
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Asin: 0822328461
Catlog: Book (2002-06-01)
Publisher: Duke University Press
Sales Rank: 414916
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Book Description

Although much recent social science and humanities work has been a revolt against simplification, this volume explores the contrast between simplicity and complexity to reveal that this dichotomy, itself, is too simplistic. John Law and Annemarie Mol have gathered a distinguished panel of contributors to offer—particularly within the field of science studies—approaches to a theory of complexity, and at the same time a theoretical introduction to the topic. Indeed, they examine not only ways of relating to complexity but complexity in practice.Individual essays study complexity from a variety of perspectives, addressing market behavior, medical interventions, aeronautical design, the governing of supranational states, ecology, roadbuilding, meteorology, the science of complexity itself, and the psychology of childhood trauma. Other topics include complex wholes (holism) in the sciences, moral complexity in seemingly amoral endeavors, and issues relating to the protection of African elephants. With a focus on such concepts as multiplicity, partial connections, and ebbs and flows, the collection includes narratives from Kenya, Great Britain, Papua New Guinea, the Netherlands, France, and the meetings of the European Commission, written by anthropologists, economists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of science, technology, and society. Contributors. Andrew Barry, Steven D. Brown, Michel Callon, Chunglin Kwa, John Law, Nick Lee, Annemarie Mol, Marilyn Strathern, Laurent Thévenot, Charis Thompson ... Read more


46. Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life
by Joe Schwarcz, Joe, Dr Schwarcz
list price: $14.95
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Asin: 071674600X
Catlog: Book (1999)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Sales Rank: 533244
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Have you ever wondered about the science behind Alice’s strange adventures in Wonderland, Casanova’s experiments with “Spanish Fly,” and zombies in Haiti?In RADAR, HULA HOOPS, AND PLAYFUL PIGS, chemist and columnist Dr. Joe Schwarcz offers 67 entertaining essays exploring these and other delightful nooks and crannies of chemistry.

Investigate the nefarious chemistry of the KGB, the colors of urine, and the mysteries of baldness.Learn how shampoos really work, and discover which cleaning agents must never be combined.Get rid of that skunk smell in a jiffy, and get a whiff of what’s behind the act of passing gas.Read about the ups and downs of underwear, the invention of gunpowder, Van Gogh’s brain, John Dillinger’s chemical exploits, and Dinshah Ghadiali’s bizarre attempts to cure disease with colored lights.Finally, discover the amazing links between radar, hula hoops, and playful pigs!

Written by popular media personality Dr. Joe Schwarcz, this 1999 Canadian best-seller is proof positive that a little intellectual dip into the vast ocean of chemistry can not only be useful but pleasurable as well. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful!!!
This is perfect for anyone interested in how various products were developed, health aspects of chemistry, or the history of various chemical discoveries. As a high school science teacher I am always looking for anecdotes regarding various science topics. This is perfect!! Lots of fun!
Thanks Joe.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun and illuminating for the chemist and non-chemist alike
Dr. Schwarcz is well-known throughout Canada (and especially, the University of McGill in Montreal) as being the consummate chemistry lecturer. His courses are filled with anecdotes, demonstrations, and humour. He has translated his infectious interest in chemistry to the written word, and the result is a fascinating book that you will enjoy reading, and likely refer to again and again when someone asks, "I wonder why....?" As the title promises, the book is a series of short anecdotes about a variety of chemical subjects. For example, the titular "radar, hula hoops, and playful pigs" gives the connection between these three items (airborne radar, hula hoops, and pig playtoys are all made from the same polymer). The majority of the essays revolve around health, probably reflecting both the author's training (as a carbohydrate chemist) and society's bias.

Schwarcz has two underlying, scientific themes. Science in general, and chemistry in particular, is neither good nor evil - it's the context/use of chemistry that gives a moral distinction. Likewise, chemical effects are generally driven by amount - arsenic is not poisonous in low enough concentrations, while water is deadly under certain conditions (if inhaled, for example). The second point is to make the reader a skeptical consumer. He gives numerous examples of good science vs. bad science - a product trotting out "testimonials" is not evidence that it will work in all cases (or even in the majority of cases!). That's not to say the book gets bogged down in details. His writing style is sharp, witty, and concise. The book can be picked up and read from any point, and you'll still learn something interesting.

I am a chemist, and can assure the chemists considering this book that the science is accurate. It's not the standard sugar-coated fare that appears on television. Likewise, a non-scientist will be able to easily understand the material because Schwarcz never resorts to lingo without first explaining it (for "proof" I point to my mother, who was an English major in university and who enjoyed the parts of the book she's read). Therefore, this book can be recommended to the widest audience, and all will find it informative and enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars At Last: Chemistry for Humans!
I love this book! I can't wait to read the sequel! Dr. Schwarcz has a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and making you actually care about chemistry. His secret is that instead of lecturing about chemistry for chemistry's sake, he uses chemistry to make sense of the nagging little questions of everyday life (Why is shampoo so foamy? Why does skunk smell come back the day after you wash it off your dog?). He also brings to light the people behind chemical discoveries, and has a knack for showing how their personal quirks led them to discoveries that changed the world. If you like chemistry, you will like this book. If you HATE chemistry (like I do) you will love this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Science for Non-Scientists
The sub-title says it right: "Digestible Commentaries." The writing style is informative, entertaining and always illuminating. The narratives on diet, in particular, are very applicable to daily life. He does an excellent job of debunking the myths of "chemical content" in our lives and consistently makes the point that "chemical" is not a dirty word! A great and easy read. ... Read more


47. I'm Working on That : A Trek From Science Fiction to Science Fact
by William Shatner, Chip Walter
list price: $25.00
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Asin: 067104737X
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Star Trek
Sales Rank: 390219
Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Beam me up, Scotty."®
During the 1960s, in an age when the height of technology was a crackly AM transistor radio, Star Trek™ envisioned a time when communication devices worked without wires.

"Working"
Computers of the decade took up entire climate-controlled rooms and belonged only to the government and a few very large corporations. Yet Captain Kirk had one small enough to sit on the top of his desk -- and it talked back to him.

"Ahead, Warp Factor 2"
While man still hadn't walked on the moon, the crew of the Starship Enterprise® traveled between star systems faster than the speed of light. Its crew was able to walk on other worlds.

Over the past three decades, Star Trek has become a global phenomenon. Its celebration of mankind's technical achievements and positive view of the future have earned it an enduring place in the world's psyche. It has inspired countless viewers to become scientists, inventors, and astronauts. And they, in turn, have wondered if they could make even a little piece of Star Trek real in their own lifetime. As one noted scientist said when he saw a plywood, plaster and plastic set that represented the ship's warp engines, "I'm working on that."

As in his missions aboard the fictional Starship Enterprise, William Shatner, the actor who is Captain James T. Kirk, and his co-author, Chip Walter, take us on an adventure to discover the people who are working on the future we will all share. From traveling through space at warp speeds to beaming across the continent, noted scientists from Caltech to MIT explore the realms of what was once considered improbable and show how it just might be possible. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Star Trek: I'm Working on That
Star Trek: I'm Working on That written by William Shatner with Chip Walter is simply... fascinating, as Spock would say. A book that is a true trek from science fiction to science fact as Shatner talks to different scientists as gets the scoop on whats coming down the pike in the future.

The book is written in an easy style narrative, as Shatner is talking to you and finding out whats in store for the future. From nanotechnology to suspended animation, raising consciousness in computers to scrambled atoms, Shatner takes the reader on a real TREK.

You'll find yourself reading this book and then reading it some more until you have it finished and time has simply melted away. Reading about people working on the future is an adventure from Caltech to MIT what was once considered impossible or improbable, just might be a real possibility.

If you're like me and you have just a little modicum of curiosity, you'll like reading this entertaining look into the future. Who knows, maybe there will be transporters, wrap drive, and replicators. Either way, though, I vote we move cautiously before kicking things into warp drive.

There could be advantages to that. Caution: reading this book will severely afflict you with "wonderment disease," as these technologies are appearing in the real world, someone must actually be out there making them happen.

You'll find a suggested reading list and web sites to surf making this book compellingly interactive.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascination with the Future
For this neo-Trekkie with a fascination for the future, "I'm Working on That: A Trek from Science Fiction to Science Fact", is an entertaining look at how our imaginations have converged with reality and how technology is impacting our lives now and will, exponentially, change the way we live tomorrow. The book should resonate even more with those well versed in the toys and voyages of the Enterprise. Chip Walter and William Shatner explore where fiction meets reality in a smart style that is absorbing, tangible, and fun, and will engage the novice futurist as well as those conversant in the theories and foresights of Kurzweil, Moravec, Teller, von Neumann, and their contemporaries.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Very interesting- I bought this for my father as a gift, but I ended up reading it first! It's very easy to read for us non-science types and the format keeps you turning the pages.

5-0 out of 5 stars Resistance is Futile. Drop yours shields. Comply!
This is a glorious book embodying the absolute finest work done by William Shatner. In a wonderful tribute to exploration, he trips, stumbles and collapses through his own confusion. But, as the Captain who I grew up to respect and admire, he bravely embarks on a voyage of discovery and adventure. He boldly goes where few have ventured before.

Seriously, he clarified many thoughts, ideas, concepts, facts and fiction. Frankly, I am surprised that he was able to make any sense out of it and teach me. I tried my best to read about relativity, time, sub-atomic molecules and atoms, and space travel because it fascinates me. I regret to inform the Captain that I have been assimilated into your collective as a minion.

In fact, Mr. Shatner covers topics including nanotechnology, robotics and a host of health, age and other previously unknown by-products! You must read the entire book. It's not a light-weight book by any stretch of the imagination. ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING WHERE WE ARE GOING DURING THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS. The more sophisticated literature is beyond my comprehension, therefore, this book is the perfect learning device!

Since I was a boy, my father always grimaced when I steadfastly watched the original Star Trek series. He told me that Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy and all the incredible space-bunnies were brainwashing me. Today, my children are amazed as I sit motionless, stuck in time, and oblivious to anything else, (time warp?...did I flunk already?) as I get my coordinates correct to watch another exciting episode of Enterprise. I am delighted with the current Star Trek series, Enterprise. It bridges the gap between today, the past, and the future.

Captain Kirk (oops Mr. Shatner) expounds on this topic and presents a brilliant discussion about our humanity and how technology is going to make our lives easier. This book is extremely interesting to read for comparison between all the science fiction and actual technology developed today in such a short period of time. Our global society is converging between virtual reality and literal reality.

The entire Star Trek adventure has shown the world endless possibilities. The Star Trek adventure promotes our unique love, curiosity and sometimes, even higher levels of intelligence and understanding.

"Fantasmic" worlds exist among us. We must learn to adapt with humanity, technology, cultures and our brave new world.

4-0 out of 5 stars The "Trek" to reality
Life-like androids,transporter beams and traveling at warp speed are just a few ideas from "Star Trek"scients are working on right now!See how the science-fiction of the series is becoming science FACT.I like this book because it's neat to know these things will be REAL.I often thought as a kil watching Star Trek"Wouldn't it be great if we really had that?"Whether you like sci-fi,science or both you'll find this book fascinating. ... Read more


48. The Fermi Solution: Essays on Science
by Hans Christian Von Baeyer
list price: $8.95
our price: $8.06
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Asin: 0486417077
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 811304
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Engrossing journey through the workings of the universe and minds of today’s scientific thinkers examines an extraordinary range of topics—from the Superconducting Super Collider and the mysteries of the Big Bang, to strange crystals with impossible structures and the quest for the temperature of absolute zero. A richly satisfying work teeming withthe drama of scientific research and the thrill of discovery will appeal to scientists and laypeople alike.
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Lessons that reach beyond science
Professor von Baeyer deserves credit for more than just making physics understandable(a physics book without equations!) He draws from several physical discoveries some lessons about the scientific method, starting with Fermi's famous piano-tuner problem. And he explains WHY research and analytic techniques such as Fermi's approximation work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thrilling physics
This book is really a joy to read if you like science in general and physics in particular. It shows in an excellent way the spirit of physics.

5-0 out of 5 stars Broad ranging, enjoyable read
Von Baeyer combines well written, understandable and fun prose with a sound understanding of the underlying science. I particularly enjoyed his analogy of a scientist as a boy playing on the beach, staring in wonder at the magnificence of creation. Anyone looking for a good popular science book to keep (and re-read) for years should consider this one. ... Read more


49. The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science
list price: $18.95
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Asin: 0820322873
Catlog: Book (2001-02-01)
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Sales Rank: 412415
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50. La Fisica, Aventura del Pensamiento
by Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld
list price: $20.40
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Asin: 9500378299
Catlog: Book (2002-11)
Publisher: Losada
Sales Rank: 1606249
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51. The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2000
by David Quammen, Burkhard Bilger
list price: $13.00
our price: $10.40
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Asin: 0618082956
Catlog: Book (2000-10-26)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 123332
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

With The Best American Science and Nature Writing, Houghton Mifflin expands its stellar Best American series with a volume that honors our long and distinguished history of publishing the best writers in these fields.
David Quammen, together with series editor Burkhard Bilger, has assembled a remarkable group of writers whose selections appeared in periodicals from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, SCIENCE, and THE NEW YORKER to PUERTO DEL SOL and DOUBLETAKE. Among the acclaimed writers represented in this volume are Richard Preston on "The Demon in the Freezer," John McPhee bidding "Farewell to the Nineteeth Century," Oliver Sacks remembering the "Brilliant Light" of his boyhood, and Wendell Berry going "Back to the Land."
Also including such literary lights as Anne Fadiman, David Guterson, Edward Hoagland, Natalie Angier, and Peter Matthiessen, this new collection presents selections bound together by their timelessness.
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great collection of articles
Editor David Quammen writes that science on the one hand is getting bigger and nature "in the narrow, green sense," has apparently gotten smaller, marginalized. "The task of writers who care about one or both of these vast subjects is, among other things, to retain a relentless urge for connectedness and a rogue disregard for boundaries," he says. After all, as he points out in his introduction, "Science is a human activity."

However science and nature are viewed, the requirement for inclusion in this volume was singular: good writing. In that, the book is a success. Each of the book's 19 entries from top writers retains that connectedness in as many different ways. From Natalie Angier's "Men, Women, Sex and Darwin," to Richard Coniff's "African Wild Dogs," to Judith Hooper's "A New Germ Theory," (which explores evolution and infection), Quammen's observation that science is a subset of human culture remains evident and that science is "not so purely objective as it sometimes pretends."

Each of the entries is well worth reading. Atul Gawande's "Cancer Cluster Myth," expands one's thinking in light of preconceived notions. The final entry, Gary Taube's article on string theory lets the reader know that while physicists are on the trail of "a theory of everything," and that they feel they are on to something big, ultimately they are not sure exactly what.

All in all, the collection offers great writing on a wide array of interesting and current topics in science that will inspire readers to want more good writing about science and nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't eat melted caterpillars!
"David Quammen" on a cover chains the eye and impels the hand to grasp the book displaying it. That he is the editor of this anthology instead of the writer doesn't prove a disappointment. Quite the reverse. Quammen's writing skills are nearly matched by each of the essays he's selected for this collection. With topics ranging from gorillas to GUTs, we're presented with delightful reading. Every essay will compete for your attention, subtly commanding some time for further reflection, and perhaps action. Quammen's given us readings of compelling interest. Going through this series in one reading may be overwhelming. A pause for personal afterthought could follow each of these articles.

Although a series of excellent pieces, the opening choice was unfortunate. Natalie Angier's diatribe against evolutionary psychology is overblown, overstated and overfocussed. Feminist writers find natural selection a ready target in these days of "political correctness" joining religious fundamentalism in assaulting Darwin from left and right. Attacking an emerging science such as evolutionary psychology is facile. Researchers groping for answers in a field fraught with prejudices and limited information are an easy target. Castigating "evo-psychos", as she terms them, as inconsistent, ignores the problems encountered in establishing a new scientific field. Human behaviour has been the subject of study for millennia. Today, molecular genetics is revealing biological sources for many behaviours giving firmer answers than we've ever had. While she rails at "Darwinian logic", whatever that means, for allotting human male/female roles, the reader can only wonder if she's aware of the wealth of research in those roles in other primates. As a journalistic sniper instead of a researcher, Angier adds nothing to resolving these questions or even posing new ones. Having judged the science as flawed seems sufficient for her purposes.

In striking contrast to Angier's vituperation, the pearl in this collection is Ken Lamberton's very compassionate account in "The Wisdom of the Toads." Quammen's ability to bring the reader into the account has received attention from this reviewer elsewhere. Lamberton's analogue ability gives a graceful style to his description of desert toads and their erratic life. As he and his daughters watch the toads adapting to the unpredictable ways of desert realities, we are granted insight to Lamberton's own reality. While jarring, his admission detracts neither from his powers of perception nor his gently insistent power of his descriptions. His writing commands respect; his close-up view of Nature one we should all emulate. It is particularly interesting that he shares place in this collection with Angier, while inadvertently refuting her.

Several essays dealing with other animals are curtailed in geography, but unlimited in approach. From African wild dogs, we're shown the threats posed to gorillas by human wars, to humans by viruses of chimpanzee origin. An almost whimsical essay introduces us to "Lulu, Queen of the Camels." Cullen Murphy skirts the ludicrous in his narration of the first serious biological study of nature's most useful animal. While many of us think of the camel as a Saharan native, Africa was the last continent reached though natural means by this intriguing creature. Few domesticated animals escape conversion to entertainment roles and Camelus Dromedarius is no exception. The camel racing industry, although rewarding to its practitioners, is beset with unique problems.

While biological research reveals increasing diversity in the pattern of life, physicists are probing atoms for signs of uniformity. The quest for a Grand Unified Theory [GUT] has been elusive. Gary Taubes' account of a quest for a "Rosetta Stone" between Einstein's General Relativity theory and quantum mechanics provides interesting surprises. He turns what could be an arcane topic into a comprehensible picture of the forces underlying our universe.

While the Cold War era produced many works of fact and fiction designed to jar us into more responsible actions, none matches Richard Preston's "The Demon in the Freezer" for ability to frighten readers. We've taken comfort, and no little vicarious pride, in the eradication of smallpox, but Preston jars us back to reality with this account of a hidden global threat. A 1972 outbreak of smallpox in Yugoslavia launches a vivid description of the disease's ability to propagate. That it was stopped required an autocratic government using tactics North American governments would reject. Yet real threats of infection remain, and the source of a new plague may lie in your backyard. Poxviruses move easily through the animal kingdom, and have the capacity to "jump" species, mutating as it infects. Preston's description of pox mechanics isn't dinner-time reading. The pox dissolves animal tissue, particularly the gut, leaving a residue of intestinal fluids and pox viruses. Hence, "don't eat . . . "!

A supporting "further reading" list would have iced this appealing confection of essays. Quammen provides the next thing with biographical sketches of the writers plus the runners- up in the selection process. A little delving with a good search engine has already turned up a few of these, demonstrating the challenges Quammen faced in making choices. None are failures in writing. Quammen has never disappointed and has now added editing skills to his superlative writing ones. This book will entertain, shock, and inspire you. With something in it for all, it's also worth the purchase in providing new areas of interest.

4-0 out of 5 stars great collection
Of all the annual 'best of' anthologies, Houghton Mifflin's Best American Science and Nature Writing has to be the best. I know it has only been out a few years, but in every anthology, 90% of the essays are phenomenal. In the 2000 edition I thought only Wendell Berry's and Wendy Johnson's essays didn't belong (I'm not sure that you could qualify Johnson's piece as science or nature writing). Otherwise you have great pieces by Natalie Angier, Richard Conniff, Paul de Palma, Helen Epstein, Anne Fadiman, Atul Gawande, Brian Hayes, Edward Hoagland, Judith Hooper, Ken Lamberton, Peter Matthiessen, Cullen Murphy, Richard Preston, Oliver Sacks, Hampton Sides, Craig B. Stanford, and Gary Taubes (most of them I had never heard of). And they range over all aspects of science, nature, and technology. Great collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is science AND nature writing
It was an interesting choice to try and include the country's best science writing and its best nature writing in one volume. It, to me, was a mostly successful gambit; the writing in this anthology is top-notch.

Quality writing is one part of the story, though. Especially in science where content is king. How do the works here stack up? There are three main styles the entries take: literary journalism, persuasive advocacy, and reflective self-narrative.

Those pieces in the literary journalism category are by far my favorites. Helen Epstein's "Something Happened" is a penetrating look at the science behind the emergence of AIDS in Africa in the 1950s. Cullen Murphy takes us to the desert of Dubai in "Lulu, Queen of Camels", his fascinating vignette about British woman Lulu and the camel breeding-program she's begun. Richard Preston's "The Demon in the Freezer" post-"eradication" history of the smallpox virus is unquestionably the scariest thing I have ever read.

The persuasive advocacy pieces are sometimes ...failures, like Natalie Angier's "Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin" or Wendell Berry's "Back to the Land". Angier argues against evolutionary psychologists who claim that women are _biologically_ attracted to rich and influential men, but her piece is so long-winded and overblown the merits of her argument are easy to miss. Berry's piece is the kind of fact-free politicized "nature" writing whose prevalence is lamented by editor Quammen himself in his introduction.

The quality of the reflective self-narratives is high, if you like that sort of piece. In "Brilliant Light" Oliver Sacks offers a fond reminiscence of his boyhood love of chemistry, and in the process managed to stir my own sense of chemical wonder. And although it doesn't seem to really be nature or science writing, Ken Lamberton's "The Wisdom of Toads" is a sort of "mini-memoir" and look into the conscience and daily life of a convicted sex offender.

Biology and medicine are slightly overrepresented, which is par for the course here in America, but the styles and viewpoints of each of these pieces are unique enough that you don't get bored. The other contributions range in subject from particle physics to Mormon archaeology, a breadth perhaps unparalleled by any other contemporary outlet for science and nature writing. That is the real strength of this anthology. Of course all these writers can put together a few engaging sentences, but what makes this collection good is the diverse array of interesting and important topics the stories here present.

4-0 out of 5 stars excellent reading
This is a fine read. Many great short articles and several longer ones. The book is written largely for the layman. If you have general science knowledge and are reasonably current with world events, you can enjoy this book. Two articles in particular are "must read" status: "African Wild Dogs," and "The Demon in the Freeze," which is a chilling account of the current status and history of smallpox. Hey, it costs 10 bucks...buy it. ... Read more


52. Our Improbable Universe: A Physicist Considers How We Got Here
by Michael Mallary
list price: $15.00
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Asin: 156858301X
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press
Sales Rank: 427874
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Book Description

From the most practical point of view, we really are "star children": the iron in the blood of our veins originated in a stellar explosion billions of years ago. How likely is it that all the myriad conditions for life would come together so precisely? Without positing or denying the existence of a creator behind it all, the answer to that question is humbling and fascinating. Along the way, Michael Mallary summarizes the latest findings in cosmology - including string theory, high-energy physics, and relativity. ... Read more


53. Science at the Extreme: Scientists on the Cutting Edge of Discovery
by Peter Lane Taylor
list price: $18.95
our price: $18.95
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Asin: 007140029X
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies
Sales Rank: 787608
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"This is a book that will astonish you."­­National Geographic Adventure

Whether hanging from suspension bridges to track the flight of raptors, scuba diving into the crushing cores of moving glaciers, or exploring the burning cauldrons of active volcanoes, there is a special breed of scientist willing to go wherever they must and do whatever it takes to get the data they need.

Science and nature writer and photojournalist Peter Lane Taylor, accompanied nine of these "extreme scientists" and experienced firsthand the rigors of their special brand of research. In Science at the Extreme, he combines stunning original photographs with gripping narrative accounts to take readers on a thrilling adventure­­with a purpose­­to the very frontiers of discovery. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
More than just a "coffee table" book, this is a fascinating journey into the world of "extreme science". The photography is outstanding and the commentary articulate, educational and approachable. A great "maiden voyage" from Peter Lane Taylor. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book by a new author
Taylor has done a superb job with his first book. Each chapter is captivating and full of new information. Instead of glossing over the sometimes difficult technical material which is discussed in this book, Taylor writes in a way that shares the depth and rigor of the research that is the subject of 'Science at the Extreme'. Both the writing and the photography in this book are engaging and instructional; and in each chapter, the reader's appetite for 'extreme science' grows stronger.

It is encouraging to see a book that does such an exceptional job of bringing together the popular culture ingredients common in National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, with the rigorous components of scientific research that exist at the National Science Foundation and in academia-at-large. 'Science at the Extreme' is just the kind of work that is needed to reinvigorate student interest in science in America, although it certainly does not appear to be the objective of the book. I have no doubt that high-schools and colleges will have to start offering 'Science at the Extreme' classes after students get a hold of this book.

I'm already looking forward to Taylor's next offering, although he has a tough act to follow since the bar has been set so high with 'Science at the Extreme'.

The only thing missing in 'Science at the Extreme' is an order form for buying large-size prints of Taylor's inspiring photographs...

5-0 out of 5 stars The diving aspect
I was very much impressed with the chapter on cave diving and the excellent leadership of the WKPP. These guys and gals are a very select few diving to depths of 300ft with total dive time of 15 plus hours. The research of florida caves is extensive and the surface has only been scraped. The dedication and team development of the WKPP is beyond anything on the planet. ... Read more


54. Aldo Leopold and an Ecological Conscience
by Richard L. Knight, Suzanne Riedel
list price: $14.95
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Asin: 0195149440
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 754756
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Book Description

InAldo Leopold and an Ecological Conscience ecologists, wildlife biologists, and other professional conservationists explore the ecological legacy of Aldo Leopold and his A Sand County Almanac and his contributions to the environmental movement, the philosophy of science, and natural resource management. Twelve personal essays describe the enormous impact he has had on each author, from influencing the daily operations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the creation of a land-use ethics guide for Forest Service personnel, to much needed inspiration for continuing on in today's large, complex and often problematic world of science. Here is Aldo Leopold as a mentor, friend, and companion and an affirmation of his hope that science will continue to be practiced in the cause of conservation. ... Read more


55. Modularity : Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology)
list price: $55.00
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Asin: 0262033267
Catlog: Book (2005-06-01)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Sales Rank: 988363
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Book Description

Modularity -- the attempt to understand systems as integrations of partially independent and interacting units -- is today a dominant theme in the life sciences, cognitive science, and computer science. The concept goes back at least implicitly to the Scientific (or Copernican) Revolution, and can be found behind later theories of phrenology, physiology, and genetics; moreover, art, engineering, and mathematics rely on modular design principles. This collection broadens the scientific discussion of modularity by bringing together experts from a variety of disciplines, including artificial life, cognitive science, economics, evolutionary computation, developmental and evolutionary biology, linguistics, mathematics, morphology, paleontology, physics, theoretical chemistry, philosophy, and the arts.

The contributors debate and compare the uses of modularity, discussing the different disciplinary contexts of "modular thinking" in general (including hierarchical organization, near-decomposability, quasi-independence, and recursion) or of more specialized concepts (including character complex, gene family, encapsulation, and mosaic evolution); what modules are, why and how they develop and evolve, and the implication for the research agenda in the disciplines involved; and how to bring about useful cross-disciplinary knowledge transfer on the topic. The book includes a foreword by the late Herbert A. Simon addressing the role of near-decomposability in understanding complex systems.
... Read more


56. Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries
by Steven Weinberg
list price: $26.00
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Asin: 067400647X
Catlog: Book (2001-10-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 470762
Average Customer Review: 3.85 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Steven Weinberg isn't ashamed of science. Of course, as a Nobel winner in physics, he does have emotional capital invested in the enterprise, but most of his arguments are sound and compelling. Facing Up is a collection of his essays, written over 15 years, celebrating and defending mainstream science.Rising up against the cultural critics who insist that science is essentially politics or even imperialism dressed up in a white coat, he is patient and eloquent as he explains how their misreadings of scientific literature and their own preconceptions guide their reasoning. From mildly wonkish to endearingly passionate, his writing engages the reader's full attention regardless of cultural affiliation. Science lovers will adore Weinberg's unabashed boosterism, while skeptics can try to rise to his challenge. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good collection of essays
FACING UP brings together a number of talks and papers by Steven Weinberg that have been scattered here and there up until now. For anyone who has followed Weinberg for a while, there is nothing new here except for brief (on the order of a few paragraphs) introductions to each of the pieces; however, the essays are quite good, and well worth a second reading. Weinberg's primary concerns are to defend reductionism and scientific realism (in the senses both that science means to describe the real world, and that science in fact makes progress towards the one true description), and, in at least one brilliant essay, to argue that physics points in the opposite direction as religion. The quality of philosophical thought in the essays is not exceptionally deep, but Weinberg does offer the reader what I think is a healthy dose of common sense.

5-0 out of 5 stars Defending science
This collection of twenty-three essays by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist are drawn from various publications and talks that Professor Weinberg has given over the last few years. The subjects range from defenses of reductionism and Zionism to spats with social constructionists (including his essay on the Sokal Hoax), to debates about the history of science and the prospects for utopia to the anthropic principle and final theories in physics. They have in common, besides Weinberg's well-mannered and modest (but not self-deprecating) prose, a belief in the advancement of scientific knowledge, and a criticism of mysticism, religion and ignorance. I found myself in substantial agreement with Weinberg on almost every subject, and in admiration of his measured, fair and very wise expression.

In the essay, "Confronting O'Brien" (that's the O'Brien of Orwell's 1984), Weinberg makes it clear where he stands on the possibility of two plus two equaling five, or on the so-called "strong" social constructionist view of scientific knowledge. He writes that while "there is no such thing as a clear and universal scientific method", nonetheless, "under the general heading of scientific method" there is "a commitment to reason...and a deference to observation and experiment," and "Above all...a respect for reality as something outside ourselves, that we explore but do not create." (p. 43)

In the chapter, "The Non-Revolution of Thomas Kuhn," Weinberg writes that "the task of science is to bring us closer and closer to objective truth." It is here that I demur. I think it would be better to say that science more and more allows us to better manipulate the environment to our advantage (or disadvantage!) and to see further into that environment--to smaller phenomena, more distant objects, and more clearly into the past and the present--rather than to speak of "objective truth," which in this context is little different from "ultimate truth," or a "final theory of everything." The dream of "objective truth" is the dream of religion and is anathema to Weinberg's sentiments elsewhere in the book. Note, however, that he carefully writes, "closer and closer to objective truth." That's a nice qualification, but I think he should have qualified the notion of "objective truth" as well.

But Prof. Weinberg is not without the means for having fun with his listeners and readers. He writes on page 87 from a talk to the National Association of Scholars about the scientific method, that "There is one philosophic principle that I find of use here...[that] there is a kind of zing--to use the best word I can think of--that is quite unmistakable when real scientific progress is being made." Clearly he is playing with the notion of a "philosophic" principle. Indeed, on the last page of the book he confesses, "I don't believe it is actually possible to prove anything about most of the things (apart from mathematical logic) that they [philosophers] argue about."

Proving that he is not hopelessly locked into a finite but unbounded universe, he notes several times in the book that the universe may be infinite; indeed one of the chapters is entitled, "Before the Big Bang." He also writes, "Chaotic inflation has in a sense revived the idea of a steady state theory in a grander form; our own Big Bang may be just one episode in a much larger universe that on average never changes." (pp. 176-177)

Weinberg's sense of humor is rather dry. While scolding journalists for writing that the Big Bang theory is unraveling, he observes (p. 175), "Journalists generally have no bias toward one cosmological theory or another, but many have a natural preference for excitement." Or, his take off on Kuhn's repeated and grandiose use of the word "paradigm" (after noting a paradigm shift from Aristotelian to Newtonian physics): "Now that really a paradigm shift. For Kuhn it seems to have been the paradigm of paradigm shifts..." (p. 204)

Also: "Any possible universe could be explained as the work of some sort of designer. Even a universe that is completely chaotic...could be supposed to have been designed by an idiot." (p. 232) Or (same page), "The human mind remains extraordinarily difficult to understand, but so is the weather."

Weinberg's critique of religion takes no prisoners. He writes (p. 241), "...on balance the moral influence of religion has been awful." He adds, "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil--that takes religion." (p. 242) He got a lot of flak for that, but considering the situation in the Middle East, his words seem prescient, although he was merely glancing back at history.

My favorite essays are the ones on the argument from design, the critique of Thomas Kuhn's thought, and the chapter on utopias. In the first he makes a neat distinction between anthropic reasoning that is "mystical mumbo jumbo," and that which is "just common sense." (p. 238) In the latter, while denigrating the prospect of a technological utopia, he writes that a world without work, a world in which people instead pursue the arts, science, etc., would be unsatisfactory (actually he mentions "general misery") because "there is only so much new literature...only so much new music," etc. to see and hear, and with so much competition, our work would get but scant notice. I really didn't understand this because people will make work where there is none, even if it is only working on their psyches and those of their friends, their bodies, etc. And besides, where is the end of exploring and of learning? Furthermore, the real joy is in the doing, not in the being noticed.

Perhaps this reveals part of Steven Weinberg's personality to us. He is a man who has done the very best work while being noticed at the highest level. What he writes is very much worth our time and consideration.

4-0 out of 5 stars 'Fessing up
Echoing 'Dreams of a Final Theory', this collection is perhaps an answer to the critics and a declaration of non-repentance for stubborn reductionism. One wonders, how many string theorists does it take to produce a final theory? With the same question for screwing in a lightbulb and for an eschatological vision of the 'end times of theory'. Ay, there's the rub. We can preach the reductionist religion, but how do we know if the things that don't reduce are better off not being explained by a 'transient state of theory'?
Judging the brouhaha over mere quibbles from the 'science wars', the age of Big Science is not ready for either the Spenglerian 'end of science', Buddhist 'irrationalists', Darwinian heretics, or resurgent Romanticism. In fact, overconfidence reigns: science cannot explain consciousness, has no claim on a science of society, and can't seem to realize the nature of its failure to produce a serious theory of evolution. Time to fess up, reductionism is a great idea, but it has failed its first great test. It may be time to deprive Science of its founder, who was, as a matter of fact, the very type of irrationalist now the object of scorn. Newton was the real founder of the geisteswissenschaften and the age of Big Science doesn't deserve him for a mascot.

5-0 out of 5 stars Made me smile and laugh out loud
I just graduated from UT in 2002, I've seen Weinberg once and have heard many stories about him. None of the stories are positive with the possible exception that he is too smart for his students to understand (although there is a quote in his book that shows he's been trying to improve "It never was true that only a dozen people could understand Einstein's papers on General Relativity, but if it had been true, It would have been a failure of Einstein's, not a mark of his brilliance." This is on page 141 responding to an extremely funny quote from a deconstructionist). I've read his Discovery of Subatomic Particles and The First Three Minutes. They were okay readings with good information especially the former. I thought I'd give him another try with Facing Up. I was pleasantly surprised of how funny he is. The humor is dry, but I couldn't help smiling and sometimes laughing at some of his comments about philosophers and religious leaders. Maybe this is because I agree with him; I can imagine someone getting mad at some of the things he says. In any case, this book really makes you think about some philosophical issues relating to science and its value to us.

1-0 out of 5 stars Facing Up has to be turned down
I bought this book because it was touted as an imformed examination of the dialectic between science and its cultural adversaries. Science lost when I turned to essay 15 "Zionism and Its Adversaries". Here the author presents us with his distorted view of the reality of the Zionist project in Palestine. His negative comments regarding the October 2000 condemnation by the United Nations Security Council of Israeli violence against Palestinians in their Occupied Territories is especially offensive. Mr. Wienberg is ill-informed and wrongfully chooses to use his book billed as about science to propagandize for the Zionist project. The reader who paid for his book deserves far better. ... Read more


57. Acquainted with the Night : Excursions Through the World After Dark
by Christopher Dewdney
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 1582345996
Catlog: Book (2005-06-04)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Sales Rank: 244853
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58. Genoma - La Autobiografia de Una Especie En 23 Capitulos
by Matt Ridley
list price: $16.15
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Asin: 9681908112
Catlog: Book (2002-02)
Publisher: Taurus
Sales Rank: 1356136
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59. The Throwing Madonna: Essays on the Brain
by William Calvin
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
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Asin: 0595160492
Catlog: Book (2001-01-01)
Publisher: Backinprint.com
Sales Rank: 670165
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Book Description

These essays on the brain leap from the philosophical to the comical, from the scientific theory to mundane events of everyday life.The Throwing Madonna provides a window through which the average person can peer into the elusive world of neurobiology and find greater understanding of the human race. ... Read more


60. The Dream of Spaceflight: Essays on the Near Edge of Infinity
by Wyn Wachhorst
list price: $13.50
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Asin: 0306810484
Catlog: Book (2001-05-08)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 678410
Average Customer Review: 4.77 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First time in paperback: In the tradition of Loren Eisley-"[A] beautifully written book" (Sir Arthur C. Clarke) on the human drive to explore space.

One of few truly gifted essayists who have turned their talents to science, Wyn Wachhorst here fashions a luminous meditation on the meaning of space exploration from a montage of images and reflections on humanity's dream of spaceflight. In a survey of major figures from Johannes Kepler to Wernher von Braun, he sees in the rise of spaceflight a metaphor of modern history as a recurrent story of transformation and rebirth. Other essays offer new perspectives on the nature of wonder, recall the romantic vision of the decades prior to Sputnik ("nostalgia for a bygone future"), and look at the larger meaning of the moon landing, seeing in spaceflight not only a spiritual quest in the broadest sense of the word, but a cure for the withered capacity for wonder that afflicts the postmodern mind. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wachhorst's magic realized
If every politician in Washington had read this book we would not only have saved the Pluto-Kuiper Express mission but might well be revitalizing our whole space effort in the direction of actual exploration. Wachhorst gets beyond the nuts and bolts and tired histories to the real meaning of spaceflight-what it feels like to dream the dream. My wife and I are avid readers, and this is simply the best non-fiction writing we have ever encountered.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking essays
"The Dream of Spaceflight" is a charming little collection of essays on the past and future of spaceflight and space exploration. More lyrical than substantial, "Dream of Spaceflight" is designed more to stimulate that place in the imagination that initially made man reach for the stars and seems to have been stymied recently as spaceflight has now become a glorified courier service instead of pioneering endeavor that it was intended to be. Why is it that it only took us eight years from the first astronaut orbiting the Earth to reach the Moon, but almost 30 years since the last moonflight, we barely reach beyond our own atmosphere anymore? Author Wyn Wachorst wonders this and seeks to have readers ponder the same questions and re-ignite their desire to reach beyond the bounds of Earth.

Certainly not a fast read, "The Dream of Spaceflight" tells the story of scientific pioneers like Johannes Kepler and Werner von Braun, as well as the brave men of the Apollo program. It remembers the imagination of past explorers while seeking to provoke the desires of the future explorers. This collection of essays may prove quite valuable in the future of our dreams.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Call To Balance The Spiritual And Technical Plus More
Wyn Wachhorst has written some beautiful essays with the core theme of spaceflight and has collected them in his book The Dream Of Spaceflight. The essays aren't perfect. Wachhorst often takes disparate insights from others and tries to connect them, when leaving them to contrast with each other would have been fine. He is critical of the postmodern [which is fine by me], but he often uses terms in fuzzy and metaphorical ways reminiscent of many postmodern authors. But ultimately the purpose of any good essay is to get the reader to think and Wachhorst succeeded with this reader admirably. The deep and wonderful insights in the essays [e.g. The whole person must have both the humility to nurture the Earth and the pride to go to Mars.] come often enough to recommend the book with a four star rating.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reflections of The Dream of Spaceflight
Not what I expected. This is a philosophical rather than a technical book. It is very well written and quite enjoyable.
It has an engaging literary style.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Visionary Scope
I have been a space buff ever since I got my first telescope for Christmas, 1968, and got to use it on Christmas eve 1968 and looked at the crater filled moon as Apollo 8 orbited the moon, what magic, a time long gone. So I can relate to Wyn Wachhorst as he narrates this journey through our coming of age in the cosmos, from Kepler, Goddard, and others, to the present, always writing in symbolic and poetic style, neat to say the least.

I particularly loved the chapter "Abandon In Place", anyone well versed in space lore will instantly know what that term means, but in this chapter Wachhorst laments in great detail the lack of vision people in our society exhibit, and it's causes. Ask yourself this: how many people do you know, personally, that appreciate anything beyond normal everyday occurances, beyond the mundane, beyond the simple utility of everyday life and what is on television tonight, and if you are like me you will be able to think of perhaps one or two people only. This is a topic that Wachhorst discusses extensively and he writes that we need to have a sense of wonder, and the need to explore, and the craving for personal transcendence at the leading edge of evolution, in order to thrive as a species.

In this book you will read about the lives of several visionary people, and I think the tribute to Carl Sagan was the best anyone could ever write about another person. This volume is a jewel that is rarely encountered in the literary world, a joy to read. ... Read more


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