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81. The Human Record: Sources of Global
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82. Statistics for Experimenters:
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83. Causality : Models, Reasoning,
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84. Einstein 1905 : The Standard of
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85. The Next Fifty Years : Science
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86. Demon-Haunted World
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87. The Mars Pathfinder Approach to
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88. Salt: A World History
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89. The Code Book: The Science of
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91. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission
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97. Statistical Computing : An Introduction
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99. Applied Spatial Statistics for
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81. The Human Record: Sources of Global HistoryVolume II: Since 1500
by Alfred J. Andrea, James H. Overfield
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Asin: 0618042474
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Sales Rank: 152431
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Review of The Human Record: Sources of Global History
The Human Record: Sources of Global History is an excellent introduction for History students in analyzing and discussing primary source material. The editors have selected not only the most interesting but also the most useful sources in World History. Selections range from the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Book of Genesis, Code of Hammurabi, the Analects, Bhagavad Gita, etc. The only critque I have is that some of the selections are rather short but if used in conjunction with a text book like Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, and other supplemental material this book will prove beneficial to instructors and students of any World History course. ... Read more

82. Statistics for Experimenters: An Introduction to Design, Data Analysis, and Model Building
by George E. P.Box, William G.Hunter, J. StuartHunter, William Gordon Hunter
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Asin: 0471093157
Catlog: Book (1978-06-22)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 65310
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Introduces the philosophy of experimentation and the part that statistics play in experimentation. Emphasizes the need to develop a capability for ``statistical thinking'' by using examples drawn from actual case studies. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Get a more recent title for the important modern advances
A solid excellent DOE book, however due to it's age, it obviously does not cover more recent topics, such as mixture experiments. I've run into a few chemical engineers that have read only this book and have no idea what mixture experiments are, and why they are important in their DOE work. Also, I do not remember seeing any material on split-plot designs, and this topic is very important in industrial experimentation since most experiments are split-plots whether you know it or not, and you cannot evaluate them as normal. This is no fault of the book due to its publish date, but a newer book, such as Montgomery's or Hamada & Wu should also be read through to learn about the more recent advancements in DOE.

5-0 out of 5 stars very useful
A great book to understand the theory and the application of statistics. The examples used in each chapter are very useful in understanding the concept.
I suggest this book to every researcher and instructer to keep it on their desks. "This" is the reference.

5-0 out of 5 stars Immediate usability in practice.
This is an excellently written book with clear examples of how to apply statistics to everyday experimental settings. Box delves deep enough into the underlying theory to give an engineer such as myself an appreciation for the "reality" of the mathematics, but sticks to concrete examples and putting theory into practice. Each chapter follows the previous one, but each is also reasonably self-contained. Terminology is easily clarified with a quick use of the comprehensive index.

Additionally, don't let the print date fool you... the book is timely.

5-0 out of 5 stars classic but unconventional and practical book on design
This book was published in 1978 but as other reviewers have noted its practical methods and advice are timeless. George Box and Stu Hunter are both very famous statisticians who are also great teachers and lecturers. Bill Hunter is now deceased. All three authors have made major contributions to the design of experiments. The book is written for practitioners and in the simplest language possible. Emphasis is placed on practical designs and not optimal designs because optimal designs are very sensitive to model specification.

It does not include the robust designs of Taguchi which came later and could easily be included if the authors choose to revise it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still the "Bible" of practical design of experiments.
More than twenty years after its publication, this seminal work is still the undisputable "Bible" for users of statistical experimental design. The practical insights sprinkled throughout this book are invaluable especially to non-mathematical statisticians. This book will never be out-of-date! ... Read more

83. Causality : Models, Reasoning, and Inference
by Judea Pearl
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Asin: 0521773628
Catlog: Book (2000-03-13)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 37252
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written by one of the pre-eminent researchers in the field, this book provides a comprehensive exposition of modern analysis of causation. It shows how causality has grown from a nebulous concept into a mathematical theory with significant applications in the fields of statistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, cognitive science, and the health and social sciences. Pearl presents a unified account of the probabilistic, manipulative, counterfactual and structural approaches to causation, and devises simple mathematical tools for analyzing the relationships between causal connections, statistical associations, actions and observations. The book will open the way for including causal analysis in the standard curriculum of statistics, artifical intelligence, business, epidemiology, social science and economics. Students in these areas will find natural models, simple identification procedures, and precise mathematical definitions of causal concepts that traditional texts have tended to evade or make unduly complicated. This book will be of interest to professionals and students in a wide variety of fields. Anyone who wishes to elucidate meaningful relationships from data, predict effects of actions and policies, assess explanations of reported events, or form theories of causal understanding and causal speech will find this book stimulating and invaluable. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Pioneering Book on Causality
This is a pioneering book dealing exhaustively with the subject of causation. Its contribution to the field of "Uncertainty in AI" is unmeasureable. It dealt with graphical models for reasoning in depth. For computer scientists looking for an encyclopedia of algorithms and applications on causation, there can not be a better book. I highly recommend this book for researchers in UAI. A word of caution: This is not a book for starters and those who do not have a well developed concept of uncertainty.

3-0 out of 5 stars A review of "Causality"
First off, the rating of three stars is relative to my expectations that this book would provide me with some insights in how to use graphical models for purposes of making inferences from statistical data and, in general, to facilitate the process of (machine) learning from data. And although Pearl and his colleagues have made great progress in this area, this book seems more targeted for researchers in areas outside of AI, such as economics, statistics, and medical research. Although the author gives a number of rigorous definitions to help support his notions of causality, the book is written in a somewhat abstract manner with few if any nontrivial examples (although enough trivial ones to satisfy a more general audience) to support the definitions and concepts. References to the literature are favored over mathematical proofs. Thus, aside from the references, I found this book of little use, but on the other hand, I do recommend it for its intended audience, for I do believe that graphical models can be of great use in these other areas.

Finally given the controversy and general misunderstanding about "causality", I wonder why Pearl would even use definitions like "causal model" and "...variable X is a causal influence of variable Y". His justification seems that researchers still think in terms of cause and effect, and thus it would serve them well if they had a mathematical foundation to fall back on.
Even if I did not have issue with some of the techniques and algorithms endorsed in this book, it would still seem much more appropriate to supply fresh, distinguished definitions (devoid of the "cause" word and its synonyms) and thus when future researchers use and make reference to Pearl's structural methods, they will call them as such and hopefully avoid confusion and controversy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "Radically New perspective on Causation"
Choice (November 00) calls both Pearl's Causality (and Juarrero's Dynamics in Action, which Choice reviews together with Pearl), a "radically new perspective on causation and human behavior... Pearl critically reviews the major literature on causation, both in philosohy and in applied statistics in the social sciences. His formal models, nicely illustrated by practical examples, show the power of positing objectdively real causation connetions, counter to Hume's skepticism, which has dominated discussions of causality in both analytic philosophy and statistical analysis. Probabilities, Pearl argues, reflect subjective degrees of belief, whereas causal relations describe objective physical constraints. He reveals the role of substantive causes in statistical analyses in examples from medicine, economics, and policy decisions. "Both works are highly ambitious in rejecting traditional views. Although the arguments ar meticulous and represent intensive research, their criticisms of mainstream traditions are destined to arouse controversy... Juarrero and Pearl's books will greatly interest philosophers and scientists who are concerned with causality and the explanation of human behavior."

5-0 out of 5 stars The best and only on the topic
A great text, if for no other reason than the fact that it fills an important niche. Pearl does an excellent job of delineating causal models as both philosophical and statistical problems. I found the coverage of latent variable models particularly useful.

My only complaint is Pearl often makes assumptions without justifying them sufficiently. Usually, the assumptions made are reasonable or of negligible consequence, but at other times, the veracity of the assumptions is arguably core matter of the discussion. The net effect is a feeling of reading a brilliant, detailed exposition of what causal models imply observationally, undermined by doubts about the appropriateness of causality as a concept at all.

Overall, however, this a wonderful text that should be useful to anyone interested in causality or statistical modeling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Understanding causality poses no danger!
I take issue with the previous reviewer. Pearl does not assume that the modeller is able, a priori, to determine what the correct model is. Instead, Pearl asks what conclusions can be drawn if the modeller is able to substantiate only parts of the model. By systematically changing those parts, he then obtains a full picture of what modeling assumptions "must" be substantiated before causal inferences can be derived from nonexperimental data. An anslysis of assumptions is not a license to abuse them. ... Read more

84. Einstein 1905 : The Standard of Greatness
by John S. Rigden
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Asin: 0674015444
Catlog: Book (2005-01-15)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 273425
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Book Description

For Albert Einstein, 1905 was a remarkable year. It was also a miraculous year for the history and future of science. In six short months, from March through September of that year, Einstein published five papers that would transform our understanding of nature. This unparalleled period is the subject of John Rigden's book, which deftly explains what distinguishes 1905 from all other years in the annals of science, and elevates Einstein above all other scientists of the twentieth century.

Rigden chronicles the momentous theories that Einstein put forth beginning in March 1905: his particle theory of light, rejected for decades but now a staple of physics; his overlooked dissertation on molecular dimensions; his theory of Brownian motion; his theory of special relativity; and the work in which his famous equation, E = mc2, first appeared. Through his lucid exposition of these ideas, the context in which they were presented, and the impact they had--and still have--on society, Rigden makes the circumstances of Einstein's greatness thoroughly and captivatingly clear. To help readers understand how these ideas continued to develop, he briefly describes Einstein's post-1905 contributions, including the general theory of relativity.

One hundred years after Einstein's prodigious accomplishment, this book invites us to learn about ideas that have influenced our lives in almost inconceivable ways, and to appreciate their author's status as the standard of greatness in twentieth-century science.

... Read more

85. The Next Fifty Years : Science in the First Half of the Twenty-first Century
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Asin: 0375713425
Catlog: Book (2002-05-14)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 22989
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Scientists love to speculate about the direction research and technology will take us, and editor John Brockman has given a stellar panel free rein to imagine the future in The Next Fifty Years. From brain-swapping and the hunt for extraterrestrials to the genetic elimination of unhappiness and a new scientific morality, the ideas in this book are wild and thought-provoking. The list of scientists and thinkers who participate is impressive: Lee Smolin and Martin Rees on cosmology; Ian Stewart on mathematics; and Richard Dawkins and Paul Davies on the life sciences, just to name a few. Many of the authors remind readers that science has changed a lot since the blind optimism of the early 20th century, and they are unanimously aware of the potential consequences of the developments they describe. Fifty years is a long time in the information age, and these essays do a credible and entertaining job of guessing where we're going. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite an eclectic mix but came good in the end
When I started this book, my first reaction was - who are all these authors? I only recognised 20% of the names. Hardly had I thought this then the Introduction told me exactly who they were - very timely.

However, as I progressed through the book, there was quite a variance in the quality of the writing. Some authors, such as those on Cosmology, communicated well, but then others were far too high-level for a general audience. It was the latter chapters that brought me considerable delight & education when discussing the Mind, Psychology etc (not my favourite subjects I may add).

If all the contributors had tuned their work to the same general audience, then this would have deserved 5 stars; if it wasn't for the redeeming work by the psychologists & neuroscientists I'd have probably rated the book as 3 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thinking about the next fifty years
John Brockman has brought together a group of thinkers to create an online think tank called the EDGE. In an attempt to overcome the great divide between literary intellectuals and scientists that C.P. Snow defined as the "Two Cultures", Brockman created the EDGE to be "The Third Culture".

The Next Fifty Years, is a collection of essays from some of the thinkers from the EDGE. They explore the next fifty years on different topics ranging from Csikszentmihalyi's engineered IQ and Dawkin's thoughts on the genome to colonization on Mars and the importance of Mathematics in the year 2050.

The essays were stimulating and I found this book to be well worth the effort to read. Any book that triggers new thoughts and ideas is one that I will treasure. As many of the scientists point out, trying to predict the future is a futile endeavor, but for me it gives a great insight into the present to see what these minds are pondering today. The ideas that might shape the next fifty years, might not turn out to be accurate, but the ideas and research that are happening today will effect us one way or another in the next 10 years. As humans we over estimate what can be achieved in year, but under estimate what can be achieved in a decade, and in general completely miss the mark when trying to estimate anything that exceeds those time lines. But I think Brockman chose fifty years, to give the thinkers some creative freedom.

If you are interested in science, and you are interested in what some of our best brains are mulling over at present, then you will enjoy this diverse collection of essays on the future.

3-0 out of 5 stars A fairly good overview
The making of predictions is necessary and important, for it can instill both optimism and caution. There is only a modest collection of predictions in this book, but they do give a fairly good representation of the different scientific fields and what to expect in these fields by the end of the fifth decade of the 21st century. Here is a brief summary and commentary of a few of them:

- "The Future of the Nature of the Universe" (Lee Smolin). The author predicts that quantum computing will become a reality in 50 years, as long as quantum mechanics remains true when extrapolated to macroscopic systems. COMMENT: Due to studies in decoherence and more honest interpretations of experiments testing the phenomenon of entanglement, quantum theory will instead be viewed in more "classical" terms in its formalism and foundations. Research into quantum computation, as understood presently, will fade from the scene.

- "Cosmological Challenges: Are We Alone, and Where?" (Martin Rees). The author is optimisitic about the SETI project and other attempts to detect the presence of life external to the Earth. COMMENT: Due to advances in solid state device physics, life on other planets will be detected via the by-products they put into their atmospheres. The information theory behind the SETI searches will become more refined also, increasing the probability of understanding a real message from another civilization.

- "Son of Moore's Law" (Richard Dawkins). The author predicts an exponential increase in DNA sequencing power, which he labels as the "Son of Moore's Law." The author also expresses a fear that there will still be theologians in 2050, this being done in the context of ethical debates on the genetic sequencing of "Lucy" and the possibility of the reintroduction of dinosaurs. COMMENT: The sequencing projects and the number of sequenced organisms will increase hyperexponentially. In addition, tens of thousands of new "transgenic" organisms will appear, all of them optimized to carry out certain biological functions. The field of horticulture will explode, with thousands of new species of ornamental plants appearing before 2050. The university will meet its demise by 2050, but theologians will not disappear. On the contrary, and perhaps unfortunately, the major religions will be with us for many centuries to come, and they will accompany humankind on their voyages to other worlds, for better or worse.

-"The Mathematics of 2050" (Ian Stewart). The author predicts major revolutions in mathematics, due partially to the increasing influence of the computer, bioinformatics, and financial engineering. He also predicts that the current split between "pure" and "applied" mathematics will end, with the result being just "mathematics". He mentions also the "Milennium Problems", one being the Riemann hypothesis, which he predicts will be solved by 2050, its solution being hinted at by considerations in physics. The P/NP problem will be proved undecidable, the Hodge conjecture will be disproved, the Birch/Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture will be proved, the Navier-Stokes equations will turn out not to have solutions in certain circumstances, the Yang-Mills mass gap problem will be settled but will be deemed irrelevant by physicists, and the Poincare conjecture will be "wide-open". Interestingly, the author is one of the few who have mentioned the role of "quantization of mathematics" via quantum algebra, quantum topology, and quantum number theory. COMMENT: The Poincare conjecture will be resolved by 2010 with its resolution being in the context of the "quantization of mathematics" mentioned by the author. In fact, the quantization of mathematics will be the driving force behind whole new areas of mathematics. Pure mathematics will continue to be viewed as disjoint from applied mathematics. In fact, there will be an intense effort, as evident from the last two meetings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, to keep pure and applied mathematics as separate disciplines. Mathematical finance will continue to explode and there will be intense competition between financial firms to develop highly sophisticated algorithms for financial prediction and portfolio manangement. Financial mathematics will also have more overlap with physics and meteorology, as energy and weather derivatives take on even more importance. The next fifty years will see the rise of financial firms, and others, managed, staffed, and run completely by intelligent machines. In addition, due to hardware advances and the development of highly sophisticated algorithms in mathematical biology and bioinformatics, the entire biosphere will be sequenced by 2050. Complete mathematical models of the entire human body will be developed by mathematicians working in the biotechnology industry, and drug discovery will be viewed as essentially mathematical, with the actual physical chemistry and manufacture being essentially automatic. In this same light, combinatorial chemistry will become a branch of mathematics in its own right, attracting the attention of hundreds of mathematicians. Advances in artificial intelligence will bring about, with indications by the year 2040, of intelligent machines able to construct original concepts and theories in pure mathematics. Skepticism as to the possibility of thinking machines will be alleviated because of these developments. "Artificial" mathematicians will begin to become competitive with "natural" ones by the year 2050. Further, cryptography will continue to explode as a field of mathematics, due to the increasing need for online security and individual privacy. Increased computer power will fuel this need, and the competition between encryption and de-encryption algorithms will become very intense. lastly, by 2050 it will be accurate to say that mathematics will enter into every phase of human and machine activity. There will be no process, no business transaction, no entertainment function, no leisurely activity, that will not depend predominantly on mathematical structures or algorithms.

5-0 out of 5 stars An exciting glimpse into the future
As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." However, if anyone can make meaningful predictions, it's the twenty-five leading scientists and authors whose essays grace The Next Fifty Years.

It's an exciting book. Almost every piece is enlightening, stimulating, and remarkably well written. I read a lot of books and articles about science, but still came across dozens of new ideas, convincing arguments and sparkling insights. Here are a few items that got me thinking:

Physicist Lee Smolin points out that subtle changes in light waves as they cross space may provide the first test of quantum theories of gravity--we won't need to build accelerators the size of the solar system to gain this information.

Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller speculates that gene activation chips will soon allow researchers to map the changes in our brains caused by "every state of mind lasting more than a few hours." The result will be a far richer understanding of human consciousness.

Mathematician Steven Strogatz expects that new methods for creating complex, evolving systems on computers will mean that we humans will "end up as bystanders, unable to follow along with the machines we've built, flabbergasted by their startling conclusions."

Richard Dawkins predicts that by 2050 it will cost just a few hundred dollars to sequence one's own personal genome, computers will be able to simulate an organism's entire development from its genetic code, and scientists may even be able to reconstruct extinct animals a la Jurassic Park.

Computer scientist Rodney Brooks thinks wars may be fought over genetic engineering and artificial enhancements that have the potential to turn humans into "manipulable artifacts."

AI researcher Roger Schank foresees the end of schools, classrooms and teachers, to be replaced by an endless supply of virtual experiences and interactions.

In many cases, the bold ideas of one writer are challenged or balanced by another, making the book a kind of high-level dialogue. Cosmologist Martin Rees, for example, takes on Smolin's idea of evolving universes, and neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky is much less optimistic about our ability to conquer depression than is psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

It's not all perfection, however. A few of the essays seemed relatively uninspired. These included psychologist Paul Bloom's pessimistic view of our ability ever to understand consciousness or the nature of thought--"We might be like dogs trying to understand calculus." And I found computer scientist David Gelernter's essay on the grand "information beam" that will transform everyone's lives an unconvincing one-note techno-fix. Also the book really needs an index--that simple addition would have made it much more useful.

However, it's a book that tackles big questions about our future in as thoughtful, insightful and well informed a manner as I've ever encountered. It's worth reading and re-reading.

Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (Wiley, 2002).

2-0 out of 5 stars Why good scientists rarely make good futurists
A wonderful example across the sciences as to why people working in a field have excellent visibility over the next 5 years, and very poor visibility (or at least very unoriginal) when asked to speculate over longer time periods. For those of you familiar with the research of these people, their vision of the future looks extraordinary like the work they do, only extrapolated in ways that are obvious to those in the field. What I expected was the "creative destruction" by people of their own agendas. All the computer scientists (Brooks, Holland, Gelernter and Schank) disappointed in this regard. Richard Dawkins was the only intriguing one.

Just to calibrate the thought again. If you want to learn the views of some pretty good scientists on the larger backdrop of their research, this is a good book to read. However, other than the fact that they are working on what they are working on, there is no convincing argument as to why the world will turn out the way they envision. Not to mention, good scientists tend to be spectacularly wrong on long term visions (remember Lord Kelvin's claim about the end of chemistry a century ago).

I still look forward enthusiastically to a book with this same title, but a different cast of contributors. ... Read more

86. Demon-Haunted World
list price: $14.95
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Asin: 0345409469
Catlog: Book (1997-02-25)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 6993
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought."

 *Los Angeles Times

"POWERFUL . . . A stirring defense of informed rationality. . . Rich in surprising information and beautiful writing."

 *The Washington Post Book World

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.

Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.


 *USA Today

"A clear vision of what good science means and why it makes a difference. . . . A testimonial to the power of science and a warning of the dangers of unrestrained credulity."

 *The Sciences


 *San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

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Reviews (302)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sagan's Best Work
I haven't read all of Sagan's books but out of the ones I have read, this is the one I enjoyed the most. As in his other works, Sagan comes off sounding more like a friend telling a story than an intellectual teaching science. In a very concise manner he deals with many of the nonsensical beliefs that permeate our society, such as alien abductions, the so-called face on Mars, demonology, etc. He even spends a whole chapter using the fantastic invisible dragon analogy which basically states that although you may not be able to disprove my claim that there is an invisible dragon in my garage, this does not prove that it does exist. This is a principle that should be taught in every school in America. Not being able to disprove something, whether it be the existence of Superman, Santa Claus or any one of numerous gods, does not prove that they do indeed exist. What comes through most in this book is Sagan's wonder of nature and cosmology, and his desire that the scientific method be applied to all subjects so that truth may come forward and so that ancient myths and fairy tales can be dispelled. As is evidenced by other reviews on this page, this book will cause some people great discomfort as they find their childhood beliefs obliterated with such clear and concise reasoning. Although it's interesting that Sagan's character gets criticized more so than his actual work, it's not unusual to see such knee jerk reactions occur. I'm often baffled to find that those who attack Sagan on a personal level are the same people who hold murderers like Moses, King David, and the prophet Elisha in high regard.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life changing book
Many are turned off by science since they find it to be cold, desenchanting or even a bit nihilistic. With a clever sense of humor and easy-to read writting style, Sagan proves that science can be an awe-inspiring spiritual experience, when we are confronted with the immense complexity of nature and our universe. He reminds us how to be a good skeptic: one who is open minded to new information, but will only believe after receiving proof. (Which consists of much more than anecdotal evidence )As Sagan states "I believe that the extraordinary should be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." He urges everyone to think skeptically and to express our opinions while being respectfull of others' beliefs. Unfortunately those who would benefit from more skepticism are the ones less likely to pick up this book. It takes courage to abandon the comforts of an "all-loving" ever present god, immortality, and belief in psychic powers in exchange for the truth. However, Sagan shows us how science has greatly improved the quality of life throughout history, and how the systematic search for truth can be more rewarding than blinded-faith. We should be open minded("Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence") without being gullible. And we must remember how "wishfull thinking" does not make something true.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astronomer or Sociologist?
Although Carl Sagan made a prominent name for himself as an Astronomer in the 1970's, his final contribution to the academic world was a piece that was very Sociological in nature. The thesis of the book is that America's obsession with science fiction and popular myth has curtailed the growth of the United States as a scientifically literate society. As such, Sagan's final work is laudable as one of the most poignant and effective commentaries on the Zeitgeist of American society at the turn of the 21st century.

At the beginning of "Demon-haunted", Sagan comes across as a "killjoy", who is bitter about the seemingly innocuous pleasures that many Americans indulge themselves in (Star Trek, Atlantis, Crystal Power, etc.). He points out that at the time of the book's release, "Dumb and Dumber" was the number one movie in the box office. He also spins a wonderful anecdote about his cab driver who, upon finding out that Sagan is an Astronomer, tries to demonstrate upon Sagan his scientific "fluency" through his knowledge of "Atlantis". It all seems quite funny, until Sagan points out that the cab driver got quite frustrated when Sagan challenged his belief systems about the mythical island continent. With this wonderfully concrete example, Sagan renders the reader aware of how dangerous popular myths about science can be.

As the book progresses, Sagan continually points out that a little diversion can be a dangerous thing. He points out that Americans in the 1990's would rather spend a day watching the X-files than studying real stellar constellations; or reading tripe about Atlantis, as opposed to reading scientific books about continnetal plate shift. Eventually, the "candle in the dark" analogy is revealed as an analogy for science in America, where beliefs in the supernatural often publically usurp real scientific fact.

I think the thing that shocked me the most about this book was the fact that it wakes the reader up to the "dumbing down" of the American educational system, which Sagan implies, is a factor of the general American's willingness to believe just about anything that's entertaining.

Of the more forboding points that Sagan makes, there is one that he is rightfully salient about. This is that "pure science" (that is science in its abstract form) is becoming replaced by "profit-oriented" science. To back his argument, he points out that almost none of the technology that we enjoy today would have been discovered if it were not for the pursuit of pure science. For example, he points out that without abstract study of magnetism and electricity, things such as radio and television would not be here.

Like any good social theorist, Sagan ends this book with a series of solutions that could be enacted to further the pursuit of true science. First, he calls for a return to funding initiative for non-profit oriented scientific study. Second, he comments in passing that several opportunities are being missed by the educational system to teach children the priniples of true science by using the world around them as examples. For instance, at one point, he shows the applicability of basketball to physics. In sum, Sagan proves to be a brilliant Social Theorist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review "Science hmm" from June 14, 2004 is really funny!
Firstly my take is that Carl Sagan was a brilliant man and a great author with an exceptional ability to concisely and clearly present rationality at its best.

The book, as many of the reviews have already stated, does a great job debunking many of the highly notorious fallacies in society whose foundations lie on "myths". Sagan does this by offering a skeptical approach based on pure rational and emphirical thinking. He does an even better job in conveying how society, and government specifically should operate based on informed rationality, and the "deamons" which haunt this world result when governments and people specifically (as civilizations / governments are merely a manifestation of its inhabitants) act in irrational and self-seeking ways.

Obviously this is an extremely complex and controversial subject matter; one whose essence no single book could ever truely cover effectively. That is why I think bringing up religion and faith in general detracts from his focus as I find faith is an alltogether different characteristic than irrational behavior. It may cause one to do irrational things, but it is because that person find solace in knowing what they are doing has higher purpose.

Proponents of the Truth, i.e. wisdom and the pursuit of wisdom, such as Plato and Socrates, have always treated religion and God separately, or stated that it was God's divine purpose for Man to be Just, which is an attribute that can only come from knowing the essence of a situation before acting.

And so if that aspect of Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark annoys you, I recommend Plato's Republic (as an exceptional work for morality and the pursuit of truth and wisdom).

Other than that this is a great book that provides rational explanations for of some the most famed subjects of pseudoscience.

As an aside about skeptism (not about this book):
Some people see skeptisim as form of close-mindedness, and the writer of the review from June 14 "Science hmm" exemplifies that type of person. Obviously anyone can tell that person is speaking without any basis, and its a very funny post, but also the reason why this book needs to be read (I'm sure that person, if he even read Sagan's book at all, did it with ingrained preconceived notions of the "evils of science") This guy claims all of science is narrow minded and fascist (haha) but even many who aren't completely off their rocker, think skepticism is bad. The skeptic mindset is to only take facts at face value, and only believe when sufficient evidence is provided. This is the only way to promote a rational mindset. Those who think skeptics are narrow minded truely don't understand its purpose.

Skepticism is the best way to gain knowledge and wisdom, and prevents from deviating from that cause; which leads to fallacies about our reality such as all the myths Sagan debunks.

Going back to the poster of "Science hmm" who said that all science does is bring up "more and more unanswered questions"; although I agree that "science" that is, the pursuit of knowledge and truth, does bring up more unanswered questions, the only hope for us is in finally being able to answer some of the more fundamental ones.

To end this corny (and probably obvious arguement) with a quote:
"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike--and yet is the most precious thing we have." Albert Einstein

5-0 out of 5 stars A Candle in the Dark
Demons, UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, fairies and the like are all investigated in this incredible non-fiction book by the late Carl Sagan. Pseudoscience, and those who perpetuate it, find their place in today's society among those who want to believe in the impossible. In fact, Sagan too admits that he would love to find life on other planets, among other things (he was, after all, an advocate of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). However, science today has not been able to prove that such things exist. As the book states, "the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms."

This book challenges the reader to critically scrutinize information professed by supposed experts, and be more of a skeptic. Sagan states early on in the book that "some 95 percent of Americans are scientifically illiterate." By using the scientific method combined with a little bit of logic and common sense, one should find that it is much more difficult to be mentally taken advantage of by pseudoscience "experts." Intelligent inquiry and analysis of information presented, and those presenting it, proves to be an invaluable tool.

Nonetheless, stories regarding crop circles, area 51, and other such nonsense still abound. Sagan runs through various examples and places them under the hypothetical microscope. Once examined more closely, most of these theories and fallacious postulations crumble quite easily. What some people don't realize, and what Sagan points out, is that things just as mysterious and awe-inspiring can be found all around us, and they are indeed factual and are being investigated by those in science fields. We need not look elsewhere to find mysticism and intrigue. People are still trying to completely understand viruses and the molecular building blocks in gas in space, and if people were equally as drawn to understand real phenomena as they are fallacious theories, then more people would be working to unravel the true mysteries that are much more worthy of our efforts.

I truly feel that this is a book everyone should read. Not only does Sagan do an excellent job of attempting to popularize science, but he also tries to teach people how to think for themselves rather than to be force-fed information from less-than-trustworthy sources. The demons in this demon haunted world are both those who perpetuate such celebrated fallacies, as well as those who believe them without question. Sagan attempts to teach, in this book, how to distinguish "real science from the cheap imitation." Indeed, he does just that. ... Read more

87. The Mars Pathfinder Approach to "Faster-Better-Cheaper"
by Price Pritchett, Brian Muirhead
list price: $9.95
our price: $9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0944002749
Catlog: Book (1998-03-30)
Publisher: Pritchett & Hull Associates, Incorporated
Sales Rank: 368585
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

There's a new market battle cry being sounded around the world: Faster-Better-Cheaper. Organizations everywhere are in a competitive war trying to pick up speed, improve output, and do it all for less money.

Actually, "improvement" per se isn't too hard to come by with all of today's technological advancements. The tricky part comes in doing things faster, better, and cheaper all at the same time. That takes creativity. Ingenuity. Innovation. To help your employees grow in this regard, they need role models. Good examples. It helps greatly to see living proof of "faster-better-cheaper" in action.

Price Pritchett's latest title, The Mars Pathfinder Approach to "Faster-Better-Cheaper" provides that proof, and breaks it down into 13 high-impact guidelines your employees can use to drive your organization to spectacular success.

Co-authored with Brian Muirhead, Flight Systems Manager of the JPL Mars Pathfinder Team, this book shows how a small group of dedicated people-tapping into the spirit of ingenuity and innovation-proved "faster-better-cheaper" works in deep space as well as it does on Earth.

Most important, the book draws the "faster-better-cheaper" business messages out of this intriguing story, and shows your employees how to apply them in your organization. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Where Brian Muirhead when you need him?
What an incredible book! Brian Muirhead's story of developing, launching, and landing the successful Mars Pathfinder Mission is an incredible story of vision, hard work, attention to detail, and because of it all, success.

The professionalism exhibited by Brian and his team continue to inspire me months after I read the book.

In the current days of failed missions to Mars, I can't help but think that if Brian Muirhead had been in charge of those failed missions, they too would have been a success.

5-0 out of 5 stars At last a simple powerful book on how to perform in groups
You were so impressed by the Mars Pathfinder mission, and you are definetely interested by people management issues: get this great little book, you will appreciate the conciseness, precision, and high value of all the concepts it expresses.

If history is to teach us how to be 'better' in the present and the future, such short and enjoyable summaries of what was done well, how and why, is THE way to learn, grow and improve.

What a mission, what a book ! I missed two metro stops while savoring each of its words ! Bravo !: 5 stars !

2-0 out of 5 stars A management, not science book
This book is an advertisement for Pritchett Associates. It is not a book about Pathfinder science. The amount of real information about Pathfinder and the team is minimal. There is more Pathfinder information on NASAs web site. Unless you have never read a quality or other management book in the past few years, this book is nothing special.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great ideas for finding new ways to do more with less!
Outstanding book showing how the Pathfinder team put a rover on Mars in less time and with a fraction of the money than it took to put up Voyager. Great ideas for how to look beyond the status quo and do things better, faster, cheaper. A great team leadership book.

2-0 out of 5 stars A management, not science book
This book is an advertisement for Pritchett Associates. It is not a book about Pathfinder science. The amount of real information about Pathfinder and the team is minimal. There is more Pathfinder information on NASAs web site. The management information contained is not outstanding. ... Read more

88. Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142001619
Catlog: Book (2003-01-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 2009
Average Customer Review: 3.44 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions.Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky's kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece. ... Read more

Reviews (34)

4-0 out of 5 stars Salt as focus of world history
The book tells the story of salt throughout world history: how it was made, how it was traded, how it was used, and the effect the salt industry has had on villages, cities, and regions.

The book starts and ends in China, first describing the brine wells and the advanced drilling techniques the Chinese invented centuries ago. The text then moves to how salt was used in Roman times describing a sauce called garum made from pickled and fermented fish parts. Kurlansky then continues with Mediteranean fish industry. Salt's main use was in preserving fish. The next big change came when cod was found off the coast of Newfoundland. Cod's low fat meant more salt was needed.

Eventually, the American colonies developed their own salt and cod industries. Kurlansky describes the importance of salt in the American Civil War, how salt works led to the marketing of Tabasco sauce, how canals were dug through New York state to take salt from the Great Lakes to the coast.

After a quick recounting of how salt was used by Ghandi to spark India's revolution, the book ends back in China and how the salt industry there has moved into the modern age. The old traditional derricks are gone; no one wanted to pay to preserve even the most important ones as historical landmarks.

Kurlanski gives a good outline of how salt was taxed in various parts of the world. His description of how the salt tax was an important factor in both the French and Indian revolutions deserves special mention.

As he describes how salt was traded and produced, Kurlanky peppers his narrative (sorry...) with short recipes that illustrate how salt was used in different parts of the world and at different times of our history.

If you love food and history, you'll love this book. If you love one and only moderately like the other, you'll find the book bogs down a bit.

3-0 out of 5 stars Taking a love of Salt to its logical extreme
Salt is one of those things that turned up all over the place in my high school studies. It turned up in chemisty (sodium chloride), in biology (the amount of salt in our bodies and what we do with it), in history and English (check out the root of the word: "salary"). So sure, salt's important. But does it merit its own entire book about its history? Turns out the answer is both yes and no...

I like these small, focused histories (as you've probably guessed if you've read any of the other reviews I've written). I've read many of them, including another one by Mark Kurlansky, Cod (which I rather enjoyed). So when I ran across Salt, I was certain I wanted to read it. I liked Kurlansky's style, and I already knew that the subject matter would be interesting.

And it was. In Salt, Kurlansky walks through both the history of salt and the influence of salt on history, presenting a wide and varied picture of one of the [now] most common elements in our modern world. And he does this in the same engaging fashion that he used in Cod; although, with fewer recipes. So why not give it five stars? Well, it has a couple of noticable flaws that tended to detract a bit from the overall presentation.

The first flaw was in the sheer number of historical snippets that were included. While I'm certain that salt has been important in the broad span of human history, there are a number of these historical anecdotes where he was clearly reaching to demonstrate the influence of salt. Salt may have been involved in these incidents, but it was peripheral at best, and the overall tone sounds too much like cheerleading. Cutting a few of these out would have shortened the book without detracting from the presentation at all.

The second flaw was the meandering path that he takes through the history of salt. He generally starts early in history, and his discussion moves along roughly as history does as well; however, he has a tendency to wander a bit both forward and backward without effectively tying all of this together. I'd have preferred to either walk straight through history while skipping around the world (effectively comparing the use and influence of salt around the world) or to have taken more time to discuss why we were rewinding (effectively following one thread to its conclusion and then picking up another parallel one). To me it made the presentation a little too choppy.

There have been other criticisms as well; for example, the chemistry is incorrect in a number of places, but if you're using this as a chemical reference, then you've got serious issues with your ability to library research. Of course, that begs the question of what errors are in there that we didn't catch. And it does tend to be a bit repetitive in parts; although, this could have been used to good effect if historical threads had been followed a bit more completely.

While I had a few dings on the book, overall I liked it. The fact that I read it end-to-end and enjoyed the last chapter as much as the first is a testament to my general enjoyment of it. It wasn't the best book I read last year, but I'll certainly keep it on my bookshelf. So, back to my original question: does salt merit its own book? Yes, it does, but perhaps in a somewhat shorter form.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book
This is a gem of a book. It discusses and intertwines the history and importance of salt from prehistoric times until now in the context of the various types of salt, preserving and brining meat, fish and other foods, cooking, cheese making, health, geology, geography, place names, world trade, world history, warfare, art and investments, to name a few topics.

The descriptions of the role of salt in the American Civil War and the Caribbean islands were fascinating. Then there were the Romans, the Mayans, The Aztecs, the Chinese, the French, the Germans, the English, the Dutch, the Russians, the Scandinavians and others and their involvement with salt.

The recipes for cooking with salt are aptly chosen from about 4000 years of recorded history and are remarkably similar to those in use today. The colorful view and history of the San Francisco salt ponds from an airplane were always a bit of mystery to me, but no longer. The origin of towns and cities whose name ends in "wich" was enlightening, to say nothing of Salzburg and the many salt mines in the world.

In short, this book is a grand, well-written, informative and often amusing world panorama of salt filled with a host of pearls of learning. It is hard to put down and makes 449 pages pleasantly fly by, leaving you with a taste for more. If you have ever used salt, you really should read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth his salt . . .
It's become a party cliche to comment on our need for the results of combining a poisonous gas [chlorine] and a volatile metal [sodium]. Kurlansky passes quickly over such levity to seriously relate the role of sodium chloride in human society. While at first glance his account may seem overdone, a bit of reflection reveals that something so common in our lives is easily overlooked. Salt is essential to our existence. Our need is so strong and enduring that we tend to take its availability for granted. As a global history, this book is an ambitious attempt to re-introduce us to something we think common and uninteresting. It's immensely successful through Kurlansky's multi-faceted approach. He combines economics, politics, culinary practices, tradition and myth in making his presentation. About the only aspect ignored is the detailed biological one explaining why this compound is so necessary to our existence.

Because our need for salt is so fundamental, its history encompasses that of humanity. Salt was basic to many economies, Kurlansky notes. It's acted as the basis of exchange between traders, was the target of empire builders and even paid out to soldiers as a form of "salary" - hence the term. Venice, a coastal city tucked away from the main tracks of Mediterranean trade, bloomed into prominence when it discovered it could garner more profit by trading in salt than by manufacturing it. The Venetian empire and later renaissance was founded on the salt trade.

Empires may be built on salt, but can be felled by misguided policies on its trade and consumption. One element leading to the downfall of the French monarchy was the hated "gabelle", or salt tax, which imposed a heavier burden on farming peasants than it did on the aristocracy. The reputation of tax evasion borne by the French relates to the resentment expressed over the salt tax. A British regulation on salt resulted in similar reaction leading to the breakup up their own Empire. It was a "march to the sea" led by Mahatma Ghandi to collect salt that galvanised resistance to British rule. Over a century after the French Revolution, the British were displaced from India for similar reasons - greed.

While acknowledging the importance of salt in our lives, Kurlansky notes that determining how much is "too little" or "too much" is elusive. Many people today claim to have "salt-free" diets while remaining ignorant of how much salt is contained in our foods, both naturally and through processing. Yet, as Kurlansky records, salt has appeal beyond just the body's needs. He records numerous commentators from ancient Egypt, China and Rome who express their admiration for salt's flavour-adding qualities. Sauces based on various ingredients mixed with salt permeate the book. He notes that the salt dispenser is a modern innovation, supplementing the use of salt in cooking processes.

Salt's decline in conserving food, which changed the amount of salt we consume directly, came about due to increased world trade, displacement of rural populations into cities, and, of course, war. "The first blow" displacing salt as a preservative came from a Parisian cook; a man so obscure that his given name remains disputed. Nicolas [Francois?] Appert worked out how to preserve meat by "canning". Adopted by Napoleon's armies, the technique spread rapidly. The technology of the Industrial Revolution led to effective refrigeration. Kurlansky gives an account of Clarence Birdseye's efforts to found what became a major industry.

Although the topic seems overspecialised, the universal application and long historical view of this book establishes its importance. Kurlansky has successfully met an immense challenge in presenting a wealth of information. That he graces what might have been a dry pedantic exercise with recipes, anecdotes, photographs and maps grants this book wide appeal. He's to be congratulated for his worldly view and comprehensive presentation. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

2-0 out of 5 stars Tintinabulation?
Mr. Kurlansky had a great idea to wrap a world history around the discovery, usage and evolution of salt. There are many fascinating tales around this substance, but unfortunately you can't get away from the fact that you can only read the word "salt" so many times in one sentence or paragraph before you begin to yawn.

This, I think, leads to a certain desparation by the writer in attempting to find something - anything - to amuse the reader. One great example is a sentence containing the word "tintinabulation" which, if looked at carefully, is totally meaningless and serves only for the author to exercise his ego in being able to say that he used the word in a published sentence.

Another problem is the easy way that Mr. Kurlansky throws untruths into his story to back up some odd facts .. for example, he says that French is a language that "does not use apostrophes" during a store-naming story. Considering that the apostrophe is liberally used in French (c'est la vie!) these kinds of assertions cast doubt on the rest of the "facts" presented.

I felt the book was a way for Mr. Kurlansky to attempt to impress us with his perceived worldliness and culinary expertise - to the extent that the book wraps up with a recipe for butter cookies.

Sorry, don't bother, ego gets in the way of what may have been a good story. ... Read more

89. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385495323
Catlog: Book (2000-08-29)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 2601
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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People love secrets. Ever since the first word was written, humans have sent coded messages to each other. In The Code Book, Simon Singh, author of the bestselling Fermat's Enigma, offers a peek into the world of cryptography and codes, from ancient texts through computer encryption. Singh's compelling history is woven through with stories of how codes and ciphers have played a vital role in warfare, politics, and royal intrigue. The major theme of The Code Book is what Singh calls "the ongoing evolutionary battle between codemakers and codebreakers," never more clear than in the chapters devoted to World War II. Cryptography came of age during that conflict, as secret communications became critical to both sides' success.

Confronted with the prospect of defeat, the Allied cryptanalysts had worked night and day to penetrate German ciphers. It would appear that fear was the main driving force, and that adversity is one of the foundations of successful codebreaking.

In the information age, the fear that drives cryptographic improvements is both capitalistic and libertarian--corporations need encryption to ensure that their secrets don't fall into the hands of competitors and regulators, and ordinary people need encryption to keep their everyday communications private in a free society. Similarly, the battles for greater decryption power come from said competitors and governments wary of insurrection.

The Code Book is an excellent primer for those wishing to understand how the human need for privacy has manifested itself through cryptography.Singh's accessible style and clear explanations of complex algorithms cut through the arcane mathematical details without oversimplifying.--Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (201)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sound, Entertaining, and Informative Introduction
The fine popular science writer Simon Singh (author of _Fermat's Enigma_, about the proving of Fermat's Last "Theorem") has just put out _The Code Book_, a quick survey of the basics of cryptography from a historical perspective.

Singh's book is an enjoyable and well-done overview of the basics of cryptography. He begins with a story about how Mary Queen of Scots was doomed because her crypto was bad, and continues up to the present day. He describes the 16th Century French Vigenere cipher, World War I cryptography, including the Zimmerman telegram, and lots of detail about Enigma. There is a fascinating side branch into the related issue of deciphering ancient languages. He does a good job describing the Rosetta Stone and the work in deciphering that, and a good job discussing Linear B. The concluding chapters discuss computer based cryptography, particularly the Data Encryption Standard, Public-key Cryptography, the RSA algorithm, and Pretty Good Privacy. I was a bit disappointed in the final chapter, on Quantum Cryptography, which didn't explain things as clearly as I would have liked. Their is also a set of ciphers in the back, and a contest for readers to try to decode them.

Singh does a good job describing the characters involved, in the best tradition of popular science. And though I've known a bit about this subject for some time, he still taught me lots of new stuff. I was particularly surprised to learn that British researchers had invented both Public-key Cryptography and an equivalent to RSA several years before the more famous inventor, but that the British government had classified their work, denying the researchers credit for their discoveries.

This is a sound, entertaining, and informative introduction to the basics of cryptography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Historical and Mathematical intrigue
Simon Singh can describe tails of drama, history, and common mathematical sense into a great book. While most people take cryptography for granted, Singh provides historical and simple examples to illustrate it's importance to mathematics and history. He details it's use in wars, especially World War 2, and commerce. He even delves into the political ramifications of strong versus weak encryption when discussing PGP.

Singh also provides easy to understand ways on how encryption works and even more intriguing, how to break it. He shows how all various encryption algorithms are done, and then how code breakers can decipher them, both in practical and historical consequences.

In the end, he even provides a challenge for would be decipherers out there. Granted, it's already been solved, it's still education and exciting that he offered a considerable amount of money for this challenge ($15000).

All in all, it's a fascinating book that will capture anyone's imagination, even if they hate history or math.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece!
This book is truly an achievement! SimonSingh takes up a seemingly esoteric, difficult, mysterious, exhaustive subject of Cryptography (or in simple terms Coding and decoding) and backed up by exhaustive research , he has written an engrossing book; The 400page read is a fascinating journey for the reader. The journey spans a broad range and time period. The hallmark of this book apart from the wealth of information it has, is the facile style of writing of SimonSingh which doesn't smother the lay reader with verbiage or technicalities; The structure of chapters is period wise, starting with the basic codes used during the middle ages, with the advancement of monoalphabetic ciphers and then polyalphabetic ciphers (including the vignere ciphers); then the automation of ciphers which happened during WWII with the famous Enigma machine; Then comes the intresting phase of cat and mouse game between the cryptographers and cryptoanalysts, which has always happened, but took a intense phase during the WWII, primarily between the camp at BletchleyPark,London (which housed a motley crowd ranging from Mathematicians to Linguists, all in a hectic pursuit to break the German code) and the Germans. The simple explanation behind the logic of Enigma is a demonstration of SimonS's ability to express the technical in the simplest of terms.

I found the description and concept of DES , the breakthrough of asymmetric ciphers , the concept of public key and Private keys, digital signatures especially illuminating.

The background leading to the development of PGP by Zimmerman and its features is an highlight and very topical. Next time I buy anything from the Web, i will appreciate the technology of security which happens in the backend;

The politics of encryption between the camps for free speech vs Government control is fascinating and becomes all the more urgent in the light of 9/11 and Govt attempts to curtail and control.

Even if you have a passing intrest in science, you will find this book worthwhile to spend time on . Don't get intimidated by the term Cryptography. This is a not-to-be-missed books. There is history, politics(Zimmerman telegram; Navajova talkers;Hans-Schmidt; )I was mesmerised enough to read it twice in a month's span.


5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject!
This author did a fantastic job of taking what could be a very dry subject and making it quite interesting. As the subtitle indicates, he traces the history of cryptography and cryptanalysis from the late 1500's to the modern time.

Singh gives examples throughout, and does a great job of explaining them as well. You don't have to be a math major to follow what he's talking about.

The end of the book contains a "Cryptography Challenge" in which he offers $15,000 to the first person to correctly crack ten encrypted messages. Don't set your heart on the prize; it's already been won. Most of the messages can be decrypted by the average (but tenacious) reader; several of the latter require significant computer skills, however.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book
I'd like to put this out there first. If you dont like math and science, get a clue you wont like this book. I however do enjoy math and science, especially computers. This book captivated me from the beginning I very much enjoyed how the material was presented in the codemaking, codebreaking chronology. There was however a section on language as code that I did not care for, but in all honesty Simon Singh writes at the beginning of the chapter that it is a bit of a detour and you do not have to read it. It's a very good book if you would like get a general understanding about cryptography. Or you just love interesting scientific fact and advances. ... Read more

90. Mathematical Circles: Russian Experience (Mathematical World, Vol. 7)
by Dmitri Fomin, Sergey Genkin, Ilia V. Itenberg
list price: $34.00
our price: $34.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0821804308
Catlog: Book (1996-07-01)
Publisher: American Mathematical Society
Sales Rank: 332198
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"This is a sample of rich Russian mathematical culture written by professional mathematicians with great experience in working with high school students ... Problems are on very simple levels, but building to more complex and advanced work ... [contains] solutions to almost all problems; methodological notes for the teacher ... developed for a peculiarly Russian institution (the mathematical circle), but easily adapted to American teachers' needs, both inside and outside the classroom."

--from the Translator's notes

What kind of book is this? It is a book produced by a remarkable cultural circumstance in the former Soviet Union which fostered the creation of groups of students, teachers, and mathematicians called "mathematical circles". The work is predicated on the idea that studying mathematics can generate the same enthusiasm as playing a team sport--without necessarily being competitive.

This book is intended for both students and teachers who love mathematics and want to study its various branches beyond the limits of school curriculum. It is also a book of mathematical recreations and, at the same time, a book containing vast theoretical and problem material in main areas of what authors consider to be "extracurricular mathematics". The book is based on a unique experience gained by several generations of Russian educators and scholars. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book for young students.
I bought this book to help me learn how to solve problems. However, when it arrived, I realised it was destined as a book for 12 to 14 year old students. Still, I gave it a try ( I am 19 years old). The problems are well stated, easy to do, and methodologicaly sound. I found the problems too easy, but my little brother ( 9 years old ) had trouble. It's great for some young students who would like to learn the basics of problem solving.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Russians do Math Right
In sharp contrast to standard US math education, which
is generally a death march from algebra to calculus, this
book suggests a wonderful new way to organize the ideas
of elementary mathematics. The organizational principle
here is around fundamental ideas that underlie
every mathematical proof ever conceived: parity, the
pigeonhole principle, induction, counting (combinatorics),
etc. Each section starts off with easy problems that anyone
can get, and leads you through to more and more challenging
illustrations of that section's principle; the last problems
of each section are often quite sophisticated and rewarding.
Do the problems in this book, and you can't help but just
be smarter for it.

When I was a kid, I was mystified by puzzle problems that I
had no idea how to tackle, and intimidated by kids who could
solve those types of problems. Had this book been available
back then, it would have de-mystified those problems for me,
and I would have acquired the kinds of skills and insights
that make a real mathematician. Whatever your age, if you
are interested in developing your core competencies in math,
I can't think of a better endeavor than to do all the problems
in this book. If I were the US Secretary of Education, I would
make solving all the problems in this book a mandatory
requirement for all math teachers, and all graduating high
school students. Even a partial implementation of such a
policy would make this country mathematically literate in a
way that we can't even conceive of today. It would de-mistify
mathematical "genius" on a global scale. ... Read more

91. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Thorndike Paperback Bestsellers)
by Gene Kranz
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0425179877
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 10591
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A breathtaking, first-hand account of the early days of the NASA space program, through the eyes of the man who held it all together... ... Read more

Reviews (73)

5-0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK ROCKED
I first learned about this book after I saw Apollo 13. I was inspired by Kranz's (Ed Harris in the movie) zealousness to bring our asronaughts home. I then purchased this book. As I got into it I found that I could not put the book down.. There is NEVER A DULL MOMENT.. somthing always seems to go haywire.. and when it does, The good ol boys at mission control with the skill of the astronaughts do their damnest to fix it. a Truly awe inspireing book not only for space buffs but for any one who needs a good pick er upper. A true tribute to our Space Program. Kranz inspired by Kennedy's words "ask not what your country can do for you .. ask you can do for your country" and "We choose to go to the moon - in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard." A true Patriot Kranz is. I wish there were more people like Gene Kranz out there. I salute you Gene Kranz!

4-0 out of 5 stars Tour de Space
Using his extensive files (over 7 file cabinets) and numerous sources, Gene Kranz reviews each launch and narrates his participation in the space program from Mercury through Apollo. An amazing amount of detail is given for the numerous difficulties that were encountered in each phase of the space program. The recognition of problems, troubleshooting them and quick resolution is the driving force in this text. Readers remember Apollo 13's fuel cell crisis and the excellent job done by both Mission Control and the crew to safely return the space craft home. However, while not as dramatic as Apollo 13's potential for astronauts being lost in space, several other incidents that could have resulted in tragedy are detailed along with the actions taken to overcome each difficulty.

The text is an account of Gene Kranz's career from procedure writer to Flight Director and details the history of the development of NASA's Mission Control organization. There being no previous experience, the book outlines how the Mission Control organization was developed from scratch. The text illustrates that in space, team work and training was mandatory to be able to evaluate a problem and initiate action often within 60 seconds. This required a high degree of commitment and competence for all persons involved.

Kranz's accounts of training through simulation is fascinating. Malfunctions were programmed into the training without prior knowledge of the persons in the training session. In one case the simulated collapse of the mission doctor was so real that after the training session others had to be told the doctor was fine. Such detailed and stressful training and the actual mission performance required a detailed knowledge of systems by each person for their area of responsibility plus knowledge of adjoining areas. This training frequently revealed problems where such knowledge later paid off in successful missions.

The author briefly outlines the background of each person as they appeared in the narration. They were basically a mix of young engineers and aviators some having test pilot experience. All parties had to live by a time line whether it was during planning, training, launch, flight or recovery. The text clearly states that participation in the space program demanded discipline, commitment and risk. Some readers may criticize Gene Kranz for his strict military attitude, discipline and unwavering commitment but the question must be asked what other alternatives would have worked in situations where decisions had to be made in seconds for malfunctions involving life and death? I am reminded of the old saying "A camel is a race horse designed by a committee." As the author clearly illustrates, in space there was no margin for error or time for debate.

Also covered are several non-flight activities such as upper management, debriefings and press conferences. Each debriefing was critical to the success of the next mission especially if critical malfunctions had to be addressed. The text states that the space program was covered by a dedicated, well-informed, and highly professional press corps who "....knew the difference between objective reporting of news and hyping things up to entertain the audience...." Kranz notes that "The press conference was almost as much of an ordeal as the mission" and further states "They asked the tough questions, but they respected us and the work we did as long as we didn't try to mislead them."

Flight directors worked rotating shifts. Gene Kranz was a flight director for Apollo 11 during the actual first lunar landing and later led the team that developed the program to recover Apollo 13 after it suffered the fuel cell explosion. The text gives much interesting information about both flights. The last moon landing was Apollo 17 where once again Kranz was a flight director.

The book concludes with the usual chapter Where They Are giving an update of the history for the major players.

The book provides a tremendous amount of information. Readability may be a minor weakness of this work, but a most helpful appendix Glossary of Terms defines the many acronyms used in the text and helps the reader to move ahead. While not difficult to read, at times it is slow reading unless the reader is just skimming.

While some may take issue with Gene Kranz's stern, disciplined, military approach to the challenges faced, the results confirm the effectiveness of this approach to life and death situations where decisions must be made in seconds and there is no turning back once a decision was made.

A must read for those interested in a time when the United States successfully met a major challenge.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read after reading all the astronauts' books.
Gene Kranz's book tells a similar story, as told in books by Eugene Cerman, Scott Carpenter, and Chris Kraft, without being dominated by the author's ego. The others wrote good books. But Kranz avoids using personal attacks to tell his tale. The antidotes differ from those in other stories, as Kranz does not have a Boy Scout image to preserve. However, Kranz covers mission control only through Apollo 17.

This book is an excellent story of the space race from the ground.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mercury to Apollo: the inside scoop on the US space program
In my boyhoood, I collected news clippings of space flights like some others collected stamps. While I knew of the the complete or near-disasters of Apollo 1 and 13 which never escaped media attention, I could not imagine how many more instances of nervous questions there were on the ground at Mission Control Center (MCC) during many of the celebrated successful space shots.

Gene Kranz's book provides an insider's view into the inner workings of MCC, all the way from the Mercury program to the final Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Probably better suited than almost any one else to tell this story on how things looked from the ground, Kranz worked his career in NASA up to Flight Director, including for the memorable Apollo 11 and 13 flights which provide some of the most dramatic passages in the book. While the world savored the euphoria of the first men landing on the moon, Kranz tells of how he and his team were worrying about near fatal computer problems with the lunar lander. Most readers will be familiar with the Apollo 13 episode which was well enacted on the big screen with Tom Hanks , but Kranz's book provides some of the finer detail that the movie misses.

The book not only provides flight details of the manned spaced shots, but discuss some of the important management and technical issues which need to be resolved to move from Mercury through Gemini and Apollo. Kranz's epilogue concludes with some of his broader observatons and recommendations for future space policy.

Readers will be struck by the authoritarian and disciplined management style in the program, which Kranz does not easily hide. The author would probably have done well to use a ghostwriter or good editor. But apart from its prose which lacks elegance and an easy flow, this book provides an illuminating insight into how such a complex management feat was accomplished.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I consider myself an afficianado of the U.S. space program of the 1960s and early '70s, so I eagerly anticipated the arrival of Kranz's book.

Kranz has always seemed to be a man of the utmost integrity, dedication and competence. But a page-turning writer he is not. If he used a ghost writer on this book he was ripped off, seeing as how the prose is dry as dust.

The book is likely a valuable contribution to history, but it will probably be more referenced in future books than it will be read in its entirety. ... Read more

by Mitchell M. Waldrop
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0671872346
Catlog: Book (1992-01-15)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 9585
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Why did the stock market crash more than 500 points on a single Monday in 1987? Why do ancient species often remain stable in the fossil record for millions of years and then suddenly disappear? In a world where nice guys often finish last, why do humans value trust and cooperation? At first glance these questions don't appear to have anything in common, but in fact every one of these statements refers to a complex system. The science of complexity studies how single elements, such as a species or a stock, spontaneously organize into complicated structures like ecosystems and economies; stars become galaxies, and snowflakes avalanches almost as if these systems were obeying a hidden yearning for order.

Drawing from diverse fields, scientific luminaries such as Nobel Laureates Murray Gell-Mann and Kenneth Arrow are studying complexity at a think tank called The Santa Fe Institute. The revolutionary new discoveries researchers have made there could change the face of every science from biology to cosmology to economics. M. Mitchell Waldrop's groundbreaking bestseller takes readers into the hearts and minds of these scientists to tell the story behind this scientific revolution as it unfolds. ... Read more

Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars this book should get 6 stars
In one word, this book was awesome. Waldrop's account of the development of the science of complexity is both compelling and spell-binding. His historical account of the Sante Fe Institute and its members was an inspiring story. Written like a novel, this book was very simple to read and understand and very easy to follow. Even the casual reader could follow its simplifying explanations of the complicated theories invovled in the science of complexity. This book is also a great follow-on to James Gleick's "Chaos - Making a New Science". I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in complex adaptive systems theory, especially its applications in the realm of economics. Waldrop's work here is outstanding!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read!
This book is not about a mathematical explanation of complexity. This book will not teach you how to construct a neural network or create autonomous cellular automata.

This book is about the process that some of the world's best scientists went through to realize why a theory like complexity is needed. The book will give any reader a deeper understanding for, and appreciation of how such a broad and information rich topic like complexity is becoming better understood. Insights are also given into how this new understanding of emergent behavior may soon be applied to what were once considered unsolvable problems of Economics, Artificial Life, Biology, Physics, etc.

Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos is the story of a group of humans trying to understand the very nature of nature itself, a superhuman task. An exciting drama that just happens to be about cutting edge science instead of science fiction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reading for every science enthusiast!
The cover of the book says " If you liked Chaos, you will love complexity". I just finished reading the book, that validated the claim. While Chaos is written as story of discovery of a new science, Complexity excels as a saga of men who ventured into previously unchartered domains addressing for the first time issues like:

What is life? What is driving force that caused cells to appear from a primordal soup of all elements, when the probability of so happening is infinitesimal? What causes evolution? Do nice guys finish last? What makes evolution, coevolution, adaptation, extinction work? Why do we organize ourselves into families, cultures, nations?

Why do stock markets crash, boom? What controls the emergence of economies? Why can USSR go from one of strongest nations/economies to the state of divided helplessness in less than a few years?

Why are we here? What is life? Artificial Life? Are we still evolving? What is the cause of increasing complexity?

On mundane level: What is non-linearity? What is Chaos? If this science is all that important, why did we wait this long for recognizing it?

What are the paradigms in which sociology and physics settle into same patterns? How neural networks were born, brought up and mastered?

This novel/book is as much about these questions as it is about the scientists who engaged in unravelling many of these mysteries. It speaks about their failures and successes, their approach, ethic and driving force, their fears, fights and friendships. For most part it reads like a thriller, and by the time you are done, you find yourself searching for another book on Chaos, complexity, life at the edge of chaos, genetic algorithms, artificial intelligence. After just 358 pages, your imagination and knowledge of science leaps from Newton's linear models to the twentyfirst century stuff.

1-0 out of 5 stars Good for Science groupies - no description of theory here!
I found it impossible to tolerate the hundreds and hundreds of pages of oggeling the great men of science and the mundane minutia of thier careers, personalities and personal lives. There's not a single equation or chart in the whole book.
Look elsewhere if you want to get up to speed on the "new science".

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read, Powerful To Ponder
Complexity is one of those rare science books that manages to teach the reader a great deal without boring them to tears. Using the Santa Fe Institute and many of it's founding players as the backdrop for the story, Waldrop tells stories about people, while exploring their science. The result is a book that is fun to read, and that makes you think at a deep, deep level.

The gist of complexity is the notion that nature really does explore, all by itself, the continously evolving boundary between order and chaos. If you've ever explored the boundaries of fractal patterns, such as the Mandelbrot Set, you've seen a visual example of complexity at work. When you're done, you realize that you have a better intuitive understanding of how the universe operates, how evolution works, and how societies organize themselves...all without having to solve a single mathematical equation! I loved it!

This is one of those books that reshaped my world view, and it is one that I highly recommend to any reader, regardless of their scientific background. ... Read more

93. Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (Great Discoveries)
by Michio Kaku
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
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Asin: 039305165X
Catlog: Book (2004-04)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 7041
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A dazzling tour of the universe as Einstein saw it.

How did Albert Einstein come up with the theories that changed the way we look at the world? By thinking in pictures. Michio Kaku—leading theoretical physicist (a cofounder of string theory) and best-selling science storyteller—shows how Einstein used seemingly simple images to lead a revolution in science. Daydreaming about racing a beam of light led to the special theory of relativity and the equation E = mc². Thinking about a man falling led to the general theory of relativity—giving us black holes and the Big Bang. Einstein's failure to come up with a theory that would unify relativity and quantum mechanics stemmed from his lacking an apt image.

Even in failure, however, Einstein's late insights have led to new avenues of research as well as to the revitalization of the quest for a "Theory of Everything." With originality and expertise, Kaku uncovers the surprising beauty that lies at the heart of Einstein's cosmos. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Concise Review of Einstein's Life and Work
There are many Einstein biographies out there, and I've read a number of them. In my opinion, this is one of the most concise and readable ones. The writing is clear and engaging, thus making the book difficult to put down. Einstein's theories are clearly explained for anyone to understand, amidst the main highlights of his life and times. I recommend this book to a wide audience, from science buffs to Einstein fans to anyone wanting to understand what is was that made Einstein so famous, and why. ... Read more

94. The Tao of Physics
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
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Asin: 1570625190
Catlog: Book (2000-01-04)
Publisher: Shambhala
Sales Rank: 5662
Average Customer Review: 3.94 out of 5 stars
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First published in 1975, The Tao of Physics rode the wave of fascination in exotic East Asian philosophies. Decades later, it still stands up to scrutiny, explicating not only Eastern philosophies but also how modern physics forces us into conceptions that have remarkable parallels. Covering over 3,000 years of widely divergent traditions across Asia, Capra can't help but blur lines in his generalizations. But the big picture is enough to see the value in them of experiential knowledge, the limits of objectivity, the absence of foundational matter, the interrelation of all things and events, and the fact that process is primary, not things. Capra finds the same notions in modern physics. Those approaching Eastern thought from a background of Western science will find reliable introductions here to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism and learn how commonalities among these systems of thought can offer a sort of philosophical underpinning for modern science. And those approaching modern physics from a background in Eastern mysticism will find precise yet comprehensible descriptions of a Western science that may reinvigorate a hope in the positive potential of scientific knowledge. Whatever your background, The Tao of Physics is a brilliant essay on the meeting of East and West, and on the invaluable possibilities that such a union promises. --Brian Bruya ... Read more

Reviews (62)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and Inspirational Classic
This is one of the most wonderful books relating modern science to Eastern philosophical traditions. I have always combined an interest in physics as well as an interest in eastern philosophies, so it was natural that I get attracted to this book. I have read the second edition nearly 15 years ago, and can certify that this book delivers what it promises. Recently it has become a phenomenon to see "Tao of ..." or "Zen of ..." books that are really deficient in many respects: some books know little about the Eastern philosophies they claim to compare to, others know little about the Western science, and yet others fail to point to more than a flimsy relationship. It appears "Tao of something" has become a major marketing scheme and not much more.

"The Tao of Physics" however is free from those weaknesses. In fact, it is in a class of its own - possibly one of the most thought-provoking and inspirational texts in the modern world. Written by a world-class Indian physicist, this book exhibits the deep understanding of its author into the myriad complexities of modern physics. The beauty of it all is that some of the most complex ideas are explained in very simple language that even a high school student can understand: quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, particle physics, string theory, symmetries, etc.

This strength in physical understanding does not weaken the depth of perception regarding Eastern mysticism. Au contraire, the second part of the book, describing Eastern philosophy, is a tour de force of the various branches of Eastern thought: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc. Topics like the I-Ching, the mythology of the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and the Tao Te Ching are introduced in very clear language aimed at capturing a Western audience.

The third and largest part of the book is devoted to drawing parallels between the two traditions: the Western scientific and the Eastern philosophical. Of course, at this stage of human development one cannot reach certainties about such thing, and the discourse is restricted to pointing out the parallels and illustrating the convergence of thought. More questions are raised than are actually answered, which is perhaps the signature of a really good book. Since reading it I have become fascinated with modern physics and pursued a science education. My interest in Eastern religions has also been enhanced. Currently I am in the process of re-reading this gem. I definitely recommend it to everyone seeking substance in "Tao of ..." books.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is a classic
From the back cover:

"A brilliant best-seller... Lucidly analyzes the tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism to show their striking parallels with the latest discoveries in cyclotrons."
--New York magazine

"Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics, integration of the mathematical world view of modern physics and the mystical visions of Buddha and Krishna. Where others have failed miserably in trying to unite these seemingly different world views, Capra, a high-energy theorist, has succeeded admirably...I strongly recommend the book to both layman and scientist."
--V.N. Mansfield, Physics Today

Truly a worthwhile book. The man who wrote the Foreword to my own book, THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS, John Cantwell Kiley, M.D., Ph.D., attempted a similar feat in his doctoral dissertation, which did not have the popular circulation of Capra's book, of course, and was far more abstruse.

Kiley's book, EINSTEIN AND AQUINAS: A RAPPROCHEMENT, is an attempt to compare Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist, with Saint Thomas Aquinas, although they would seem to have little in common. Kiley studied at Princeton when Einstein was there, and so had a close up view of him, and he knew Aquinas from his studies of the Saint. He found the rapprochement he sought in their respective epistemologies.

Kiley says he is seeking to bring his book back into print, but it is a harder read than Capra's. I recommend Capra's book.

Joseph Pierre,

5-0 out of 5 stars A Profoundly Important Book
A Profoundly Important Book

I am aware of the much resistance of the ideas purported in this book, both from the scientist/skeptic league and mystic/philosopher league for diametrically opposed reasons. I will try to address them (please visit my website for a complete review) and highlight the biases of these people. Before I go further, I would like to comment on one of the reviewers here from Detroit who referred to quantum physics as objective and Eastern mysticism as subjective. This is an extremely, unbelievably inane comment from someone who apparently hasn't read the book thoroughly which in the first place talks about why physics or science can't be considered objective truth anymore. Capra, throughout the book, clearly and repeatedly speaks of cases and solid arguments in which science falls short of being called objective in the classic way. Today, no body can deny that science, with its strict boundaries and fragmented world-view, could merely talk about approximate descriptions instead of reality or truth.

One of the prominent critics of this book form the mystic/philosopher league happens to be Ken Wilber, whose genius is a source of my inspiration. It needs to be taken into account that Wilber's background is science (biochemistry), which he left because of its extreme limitation for an intense, scholarly study of consciousness. Let me quote what he said in Grace and Grit, "I disagreed entirely with books such as "The Tao of Physics" and "The Dancing Wu Li Masters," which had claimed that modern physics supported or even proved Eastern mysticism. This is a colossal error. Physics is a limited, finite, relative, and partial endeavor, dealing with a very limited aspect of reality. It does not, for example, deal with biological, psychological, economic, literary, or historical truths; whereas mysticism deals with all of that, with the Whole. To say physics process mysticism is like saying the tail proved the dog......Simply imagine what would happen if we indeed said that modern physics support mysticism. What happens, for example, if we say that today's physics is in perfect agreement with Buddha's enlightenment? What happens when tomorrow's physics supplants or replaces today's physics (which it most definitely will)? Does poor Buddha then lose his enlightenment? You see the problem. If you hook your God to today's physics, then when that physics slips, that God slips with it."

It's clear that Wilber's objection is based on his adoration of mysticism, especially Buddhism, over science and motivated by his unnecessary "paranoia" that the dynamics of science will adversely affect the "reputation" of the "object of his fixation." Like Wilber, I am a number one fan of the Buddha but I don't see this observable fact -not a mere idea-- of parallelism as a threat to his unblemished integrity; nothing could be as 2500 years of his Dharma have proven its timelessness and sensibility beyond the shadow of a doubt. As Capra pointed out in his answer to this particular criticism, much of his concern is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of scientific research that it could arbitrarily change the results of previous researches (which is not the case at all). Nobody is trying to prove anything with anything else here, what Capra does is simply bringing to a coherent, systematic erudition something that many people could see for themselves the way they couldn't mistake the blaring morning sun. What I naturally object from these instant critics is that after someone has dedicated years of research and carefully transferred the results in over 350 pages, then out of nowhere, these people, with a modest one or two sentences, vehemently rejects his work. Excuse me? You need a whole bloody book in itself, or at least a thesis with a decent amount of pages, to refute it. You need to elaborate which points/parts of his book that are distorted and why and please provide the likely alternative explanation or argument to them.

What is rather perplexing is the fact that in "No Boundary," Wilber basically purports the same parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism so I wonder why he sort of changed his mind.

I didn't know anything about this book when I was in High School and trying to explain the Buddhist concept Anatta (without "I" or without soul) to a non-Buddhist friend. The interesting part was I, inevitably, always ended up using the analogy of the ever- divisible atom to describe this most profound concept because, even as a 16 year old who knew very little about physics or chemistry, I could see the striking parallel between the atomic principle and Anatta and knew no other more accessible way to describe the latter. In fact in the Buddhist metaphysics book, the Abhidhamma, Buddha talked about the smallest substance of matter that he termed paramanu, which he said didn't exist independently but composed of interdependent elements. And he, in relation to this no-basic-building-block-of-the-self-and everything-else-in-the-universe concept, further postulated that "all compounded things are impermanent, " the same exact conclusion that physicists reached 2500 years later to describe the dynamic nature of quantum phenomena. And are you going to just dismiss it by saying that both are mere coincidence? I don't think so. And for Wilber to have such a fragmented world-view -something that he through his books is very much critical of- that the world that modern physics talks about is entirely different than the world of mystics is most ironic. As Capra wrote and I very much agree with, there is only one world -this awesome and mysterious world. One might deal with the world infinitely small, and the other infinitely vast but both are different aspects of one and the same reality and that's why both speak in the same language. Remember, all parts have an intimate, harmonious and interdependent correlation with the whole. The fact that someone of Wilber's calibre -who is aware that opposites, in both scientific and mystical point of view, are the product of mind construct or abstraction that has little substance- could have missed it is mind-boggling.

1-0 out of 5 stars Do not trust this book
In the 70s it was an original book.
I was amazed to see that today, after the existence of quarks was proven by experiment (at CERN and Fermilab) the so called "new" editions still doubt the existence of quarks because they do not fit the grand scheme of the thesis of the book. Better avoid this book. Its not trustable.
(The author is a Physics Prof at the Weizmann Institute)

3-0 out of 5 stars interesting but somewhat over-reaching
I'm one of those who believe that Eastern philosophies and religions are, in many respects, superior to Western scientific knowledge and values. Although this is a very interesting book, the author appears to have tried too hard to find analogies for modern physical concepts about the universe in Eastern philosophies. ... Read more

95. Can A Smart Person Believe In God?
by Michael Guillen
list price: $17.99
our price: $12.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0785260242
Catlog: Book (2004-09-01)
Publisher: Nelson Books
Sales Rank: 7906
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Book Description

As Christians, we are often urged to turn away from scientific discovery and rely solely on the Bible as the source of our faith. On the other hand, many people in areas such as science, law, and education insist that Christian faith is lowbrow or unintelligent. But is it possible to reconcile science with what you believe about God? As someone who has grappled with the issues of science and faith in the public eye for more than a decade as a television journalist, Dr. Michael Guillen believes it is possible. In fact, by embracing the discoveries of science we can see God, the universe, and humanity in full, multidimensional glory.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a genius to enjoy this book. The bite-sized chapters are full of fascinating scientific tidbits in an easy-to-understand format. Captivating stories of the author’s childhood in the Mexican barrio of East L.A. and his work in television and research are woven throughout. There is even an entertaining SQ (Spiritual Quotient) test for readers to take.

... Read more

96. Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution
by Kenneth R. Miller
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0060930497
Catlog: Book (2000-09-15)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 10478
Average Customer Review: 3.86 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Question: Who made us?
Answer #1: God made us.
Answer #2: Evolution made us.

Which is it? What is the true answer to the age-old question of where we came from? Is it even possible to know for sure?

In Finding Darwin's God, Kenneth R. Miller offers a surprising resolution to the evolutionism vs. creationism debate.A distinguished professor of biology at Brown University, Miller argues that the genuine world of science is far more interesting than either the scientific mainstream or its creationist critics have assumed. He begins by systematically demolishing the claims of evolution's most vocal critics, showing that Darwin's great insights continue to be valid, even in the rarefied worlds of biochemistry and molecular biology. As he puts it, evolution "is the real thing, and so are we."

Does this mean that evolution invalidates all worldviews that depend upon the spiritual? Does it demand logical agnosticism as the price of scientific consistency? And does it rigorously exclude belief in God?

His answer, in each and every case, is a resounding No. Not, as he argues, because evolution is wrong. Far from it. The reason, as Miller shows, is that evolution is right.

In this lively, fast-paced book, Miller offers a thoughtful, cutting-edge analysis of the key issues that seem to divide science and religion. As his narrative shows, the difficulties that evolution presents for Western religions are more apparent than real. Properly understood, evolution adds depth and meaning not only to a strictly scientific view of the world, but also to a spiritual one. Miller's resolution of the issues that seem to divide God from evolution will serve as a guide to anyone interested in the classic questions of ultimate meaning and human origins.

... Read more

Reviews (65)

2-0 out of 5 stars Great start; disappointing end
As many of the reviewers below have eloquently noted, the majority of Miller's book is devoted to debunking the poor science of creationists and fundamentalists who attack evolution. Miller offers an excellent presentation of the basics of evolution and refutes the arguments of several recent detractors. The story is highly readable and builds towards the inevitable conclusion that religion must conform to the truths that evolution and science in general have discovered. Along the way, Miller demonstrates the futility of stuffing God into the gaps of scientific knowledge; doing so only leads to a new crisis each time science explains what was previously thought to be the domain of God.

Having presented a compelling case for a universe that evolved according to knowable rules, Miller then attempts to show how a personal God can be consistent with our apparently Godless universe. Where does this God go? You guessed it! Into the gaps of science! In this case, it's the

indeterminacy of quantum mechanics that provides the space for Miller's God.

After such a clear explanation of the science that compels us to reject fundamentalist cosmologies, it's surprising to see Miller fall into the silly quantum mechanics mysticism of such books as "The Tao of Physics" and "The Dancing Wu Li Masters." Many aspects of quantum theory are recent and presently evolving; perhaps some yet-to-be-articulated model will explain simply what today appears indeterminate. If so, yet another gap will be filled, displacing God in exactly the way Miller decries in the first part of the book!

But even if the indeterminism of quantum mechanics remains forever a feature of the theory, there's still no reason to insert God into it. Again, after so carefully explaining the _reasons_ to reject religious dogma and creationist pseudoscience, it's jarring to see Miller assert his religious speculations with absolutely no rational justifications whatsoever. His explanation of God-in-the-quantum-indeterminacy-gap offers no hints to the nature of this God; for that, the reader apparently must turn to one of the dogmatic religions Miller has previously defenestrated.

Ultimately, Finding Darwin's God reads like the ruminations of a smart guy who is trapped by his intellect: unable to justify dogma, he accepts the material world. But unwilling to let go of the seduction of religion, he relaxes his intellectual rigor to create a little space for a God he can't otherwise find.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucid, balanced guide to the challenges of science for faith
This book is a "must read" for anyone interested in a thoughtful analysis both of the most popular approaches for defending a belief in creation and also for those that oppose a belief in creation in light of the findings of modern science. Kenneth Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University and a committed Christian (although the book stresses the shared convictions of the major Western religions, rather than adopting a sectarian approach).

Miller considers first the arguments of young-earth creationists (Whitcome and Morris, Duane Gish, et al.) and answers these with an avalanche of scientific evidence. He then examines in two chapters the claims of old-earth creationists, especially Philip Johnson (who stresses a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record) and Michael Behe (who identifies what he considers are "irreducably complex" biochemical machines in the cell). In his careful analysis of these views, Miller helps the reader appreciate how both approaches are, in effect, misguided attempts to defend creation with a "God of the gaps." Each offers examples which, the authors hope, defy explanation by modern science. This (temporary) inability of modern science is then taken as evidence in support of the work of the Creator at that point. Miller shows the consistent failure of this mode of argumentation in the past and cites evidence published since the appearance of Johnson's and Behe's writings, which, unfortunately for them, fills in their hoped-for gaps.

One of the greatest dangers of a God of the gaps argument, Miller notes, is that each time science succeeds in filling one of these alleged gaps its success is misconstrued by atheistic scientists as proof that God must not exist. Miller turns his attention in the second half of his book to a refutation of the equally deficient views against creation that have been advanced by atheistic scientists.

In the end Miller affirms the wisdom of resting one's faith in a God who is the God of the stuff in between the gaps - whose handiwork is best seen in facts and qualities of the universe which are well known to science, rather than in those which are as yet undiscovered. Although he strongly affirms evolution, natural law, and chance, he sees these as means which God used for accoplishing His creative intention and safeguarding the genuine freedom and independence of His Creation. Miller affirms that the existence of the universe is not self-explanatory. Although he recognizes that the convictions of faith cannot be proven absolutely, he considers faith in the Creator to be reasonable and supported by such evidences as the anthropic principle. He also favors the possibility that God may utilize quantum indeterminacy and chaos as subtle means for interacting with His creation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific book
This is a tremendous book that will help any seeker reconcile both evolution and the existence of evil with a caring and loving God. This may help you believe in a Theist God but for me it falls short of the Christian God because it doesn't show the role and purpose of Jesus. Nevertheless, a great book for any theist or those considering theism.

3-0 out of 5 stars Best of Type
I have been intrigued by the on-going debate regarding evolution. As a result, over the last year I have read a range of books on the issue starting with Darwin's Origin of Species, and, including works by Pennock, Dawkins, Johnson, Behe, Dembski and others. Of recent works defending the theory of evolution Finding Darwin's God is the best that I have come across for a popular audience.

In the early portion of the book Miller provides a good and succinct case for evolution (something I find Dawkins incapable of). The author then addresses several of the different challenges to evolution (Young Earth Creationists (YEC), Johnson and Behe). He is most successful against the YEC, but his responses to the others challengers, if not decisive, are well articulated.

A point that is particularly well done is the discussion with respect to why evolution is such an emotionally charged issue. I agree with Miller that one of the causes of this is the extreme extrapolations atheists such as Dawkins, Gould et al make from what at the end of the day is a limited scientific theory (albeit an interesting one). For those unfamiliar with this aspect of the discussion, many "popularizers" of evolution attempt to use the theory to argue for materialism/determinism and eliminate the possibility of the supernatural.

In the second part of the book Miller goes on to argue that evolution and belief in God are not incompatible. In doing so, he touches on a range of scientific and theological issues including: deism, quantum theory, cosmology and apologetics. This part of the book was not as well done. I support Miller's general contentions but, believe that he tried to accomplish too much and got out of his intellectual depth. Although it had some good points the second half was repetitive and a bit disjointed. I will just offer a few comments on some of these latter arguments before closing.

First, Miller reads too much into quantum theory. Neither God's ability to act in the word nor free will are contingent on quantum indeterminacy. Readers seeking an introduction to free will can refer to sections in intro level philosophy books such as Pojam's Introduction to Philosophy (an excellent collection of essays on various philosophical questions). Additionally, similar to other scientific fields much work is on-going in quantum theory and many of the current limitations in this area could prove to be methodological.

Second, Miller's handling of cosmology and its theological ramifications are weak. Readers seeking a better understanding of this issue can seek one of Bill Craig's many excellent works in this area.

Third, it is not surprising that the author as a scientist approaches the issue from a classic modernist standpoint (i.e. science is the only source of truth). Much fascinating discussion has taken place around this issue and, some significant challenges have been raised by postmodern thinkers. For an introduction to postmodern philosophical work Stanley Grenz's A Primer on Postmodernism is simply outstanding.

Finally, the author gives to much credence to the threat evolution poses to religion. In contemporary apologetics the argument from design plays a limited role and, when used it revolves around the fundamental relationships in the universe not evolution (Miller touched on this issue). All but the most literal of Christians (YEC types) do not see evolution and a Christian worldview as incompatible.

In conclusion, good book, well worth the money. For those exploring the evolution argument I recommend it along with Behe's Darwins's Black Box and a work by Philip Johnson such as The Wedge of Truth (to get a fell for both sides).

2-0 out of 5 stars Contains many major mistakes
Although this book has much good material, it contains many major mistakes. For example,research by ophthalmologists has clearly shown why the human retina must be of the "inverted" design. Miller claims that this design is suboptimal because the photoreceptors are on the inside curvature of the retina, forcing the incoming light to travel through the front of the retina to reach the photoreceptors The photoreceptors (rods and cones) MUST face AWAY from the front of the eye in order to be in contact with the pigment epithelium on the choroid, which supply it with blood. The verted design claimed by Miller to be best would not place the photoreceptors in contact with their source of nutrition (the choroid). This is a serious problem because rods and cones need an enormous amount of energy for repair and they completely replace themselves at a very high rate (about every 7 days or so), due to phototoxicity, and other damage. Miller's design simply would not allow the rods and cones to function because of their extremely high rate of metabolism. Furthermore, placing the neural components of the retina in front of the photoreceptors does not produce any kind of optical handicap, since the neural elements are separated by less than a wavelength of light, so very little or no scattering or diffraction occurs, and the light travels through this area as if it was near-perfect transparency. ... Read more

97. Statistical Computing : An Introduction to Data Analysis using S-Plus
by Michael J.Crawley
list price: $121.00
our price: $121.00
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Asin: 0471560405
Catlog: Book (2002-05-15)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 399947
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Many statistical modelling and data analysis techniques can be difficult to grasp and apply, and it is often necessary to use computer software to aid the implementation of large data sets and to obtain useful results. S-Plus is recognised as one of the most powerful and flexible statistical software packages, and it enables the user to apply a number of statistical methods, ranging from simple regression to time series or multivariate analysis. This text offers extensive coverage of many basic and more advanced statistical methods, concentrating on graphical inspection, and features step-by-step instructions to help the non-statistician to understand fully the methodology.

  • Extensive coverage of basic, intermediate and advanced statistical methods
  • Uses S-Plus, which is recognised globally as one of the most powerful and flexible statistical software packages
  • Emphasis is on graphical data inspection, parameter estimation and model criticism
  • Features hundreds of worked examples to illustrate the techniques described
  • Accessible to scientists from a large number of disciplines with minimal statistical knowledge
  • Written by a leading figure in the field, who runs a number of successful international short courses
  • Accompanied by a Web site featuring worked examples, data sets, exercises and solutions
A valuable reference resource for researchers, professionals, lecturers and students from statistics, the life sciences, medicine, engineering, economics and the social sciences.

... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Teachers, students, and researchers - stop here!
This is far and away the best statistics book I have found for the non-statistician. As a researcher and introductory behavioral statistics teacher this book has proven invaluable to me.

Crawley explains the connecting ideas that foster understanding that so many others seem to omit. Teaching statistics graphically rather than formulaically using the free student version of s-plus, my students come away understanding the foundations of statistics including measures of central tendency, probability distributions, regression, and ANOVA.

The interesting thing is that when I need an introduction to survival analysis or non-linear regression, I'm able to pick up the same book. Crawley explains many more advanced analyses with the same care and thoroughness that he does the basics including log-linear analysis, mixed-effects models, Generalised linear models, and time series analysis to name but a few.

I originally picked up this book to learn how to conduct analyses using s-plus but what I found was so much more.

To those of you that are really only interested in learning s-plus this book does that elegantly as well and I prefer it to Venables and Ripley (Modern Applied Statistics with S). I suspect that statisticians will prefer the later title but if you are like me and want some help understanding the analysis and not just how to do it in s-plus then stick with this title. ... Read more

by Everett M. Rogers
list price: $32.95
our price: $32.95
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Asin: 0029266718
Catlog: Book (1995-02-01)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 43269
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Since the first edition of this landmark book was published in 1962, Everett Rogers's name has become "virtually synonymous with the study of diffusion of innovations," according to Choice. The second and third editions of Diffusion of Innovations became the standard textbook and reference on diffusion studies. Now, in the fourth edition, Rogers presents the culmination of more than thirty years of research that will set a new standard for analysis and inquiry.

The fourth edition is (1) a revision of the theoretical framework and the research evidence supporting this model of diffusion, and (2) a new intellectual venture, in that new concepts and new theoretical viewpoints are introduced. This edition differs from its predecessors in that it takes a much more critical stance in its review and synthesis of 5,000 diffusion publications. During the past thirty years or so, diffusion research has grown to be widely recognized, applied and admired, but it has also been subjected to both constructive and destructive criticism. This criticism is due in large part to the stereotyped and limited ways in which many diffusion scholars have defined the scope and method of their field of study. Rogers analyzes the limitations of previous diffusion studies, showing, for example, that the convergence model, by which participants create and share information to reach a mutual understanding, more accurately describes diffusion in most cases than the linear model.

Rogers provides an entirely new set of case examples, from the Balinese Water Temple to Nintendo videogames, that beautifully illustrate his expansive research, as well as a completely revised bibliography covering all relevant diffusion scholarship in the past decade. Most important, he discusses recent research and current topics, including social marketing, forecasting the rate of adoption, technology transfer, and more. This all-inclusive work will be essential reading for scholars and students in the fields of communications, marketing, geography, economic development, political science, sociology, and other related fields for generations to come. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Packed With Knowledge!
Why would a villager draw polluted drinking water from a canal where a dead donkey floats instead of using a nearby tap to get clean drinking water? Why did it take hundreds of years for the British Navy to give sailors oranges and lemons when tests had proven that citrus fruit cured the scurvy that killed sailors and left vessels under-manned? Why do eminently sensible things not happen? If you've ever wondered, this book will give you the answers. It's a thick, heavy, academic tome, but spiced with abundant anecdotes and observations that make it an easy, enjoyable read. This is the rare book that combines solid intellectual content with thought-provoking entertainment. We highly recommend this classic from 1962 to all audiences, but especially those whose business it is to understand and use the social mechanisms through which innovations must diffuse.

5-0 out of 5 stars great book for researchers
this is one of a kind book that researchers in sociology, psychology and business can use. great to be used in determining the audience impact, use of certain media, tools, ideas, etc. the model used is exactly an innovation that researchers can't resist in using. a new paradigm shift in research methodology. the book is full of illustrative stories to use in related literature of a study. E. Rogers is an excellent scholar. i give him a five star award for his innovation. From: Prof. Rudy P. Divino, DBA(cand)

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterful Treatment
Well organized and full of relevant real-world case illustrations, this book is exceptionally well-done. Both educational and thoroughly entertaining. As complete as a textbook on the subject yet highly readable.

1-0 out of 5 stars bleeahh.
Tedious psycho-babble, and a waste of time and money.

4-0 out of 5 stars Narrowly Focused, But Very Solid
Professor Rogers begins his book by really getting to the heart of the matter. "Getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is often very difficult," he writes. "Many innovations require a lengthy period, often many years, from the time they become available to the time they are widely adopted"

I have often wondered why getting new ideas adopted is so difficult, not only in business and technology, which is Professor Roger's primary area of research, but also in the arts, music, painting, and literature. It seems that whenever someone has a really innovative concept, it gets attacked, trashed, savaged, and often sabotaged by the mainstream? Why?

Professor Rogers never really answers this question, and this is my only complaint about an otherwise exceptional book. His primary interest is in figuring out ways to "speed up the rate of the diffusion of an innovation." Within a narrow context of business and policy objectives, he is successful. The strengths of this book are its very competent and exhaustive research, which include case studies, criticisms, and policy discussions. It is a worthy book if you are interested in the focused academic topics it attempts to address.

I thought that Malcolm Gladwell did a better job, with a much simpler book, in explaining why and how new ideas get introduced. Still, many questions remain to be answered about innovations. I'd love to read an equivalent book about innovations in the arts. If we are lucky, someone as competent and as thorough as Professor Rogers will take up the topic. ... Read more

99. Applied Spatial Statistics for Public Health Data
by Lance A. Waller, Carol A. Gotway
list price: $94.95
our price: $94.95
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Asin: 0471387711
Catlog: Book (2004-07-09)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 139659
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Book Description

While mapped data provide a common ground for discussions between the public, the media, regulatory agencies, and public health researchers, the analysis of spatially referenced data has experienced a phenomenal growth over the last two decades, thanks in part to the development of geographical information systems (GISs). This is the first thorough overview to integrate spatial statistics with data management and the display capabilities of GIS. It describes methods for assessing the likelihood of observed patterns and quantifying the link between exposures and outcomes in spatially correlated data.
This introductory text is designed to serve as both an introduction for the novice and a reference for practitioners in the field
Requires only minimal background in public health and only some knowledge of statistics through multiple regression
Touches upon some advanced topics, such as random effects, hierarchical models and spatial point processes, but does not require prior exposure
Includes lavish use of figures/illustrations throughout the volume as well as analyses of several data sets (in the form of "data breaks")
Exercises based on data analyses reinforce concepts
... Read more

100. Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 7, Military Technology: The Gunpowder Epic (Science and Civilisation in China)
by Ho Ping-YĆ¼, Lu Gwei-Djen, Wang Ling
list price: $190.00
our price: $190.00
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Asin: 0521303583
Catlog: Book (1987-01-22)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 450518
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Book Description

The Gunpowder Epic is one of three planned publications on military technology within Dr Needham's immense undertaking. The discovery of gunpowder in China by the 9th century AD was followed by its rapid applications. It is now clear that the whole development from bombs and grenades to the invention of the metal-barrel hand gun took place in the Chinese culture area before Europeans had any knowledge of the mixture itself. Uses in civil engineering and mechanical engineering were equally important, before the knowledge of gunpowder spread to Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Dr Needham's new work continues to demonstrate the major importance of Chinese science and technology to world history and maintains the tradition of one of the great scholarly works of the twentieth century. ... Read more

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