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Blog #47

Christmas always arrives with intriguing gifts, jigsaw puzzles, communication devices, Eagles sweaters. Most interesting, usually, are books. This year I received a copy of Letters from an Astrophysicist, by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson operates out of the American Museum of Natural History, located in New York City. He’s known largely through his television show StarTalk. He’s written several books. This is the first one I’ve read, and I have to confess it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a science book this much. Most physicists seem to have a problem expressing ideas in plain English, though the problem might lie with the complexity of the ideas. In any case, Tyson’s book rolls through a l

Blog#46

People ask: “Where do you get your ideas for science fiction stories?” Harlan Ellison’s famous answer was ‘Sheboygan.’ I suspect, if Harlan had been caught in a serious mood, he’d have said something about science books. Some titles that have caught my attention: Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History by astrobiologist Lewis Dartwell. Changing conditions, land eruptions, climate changes, shifting circumstances of numerous types have led to the development of tools, agricultural techniques, weapons, and so on. Invisible Women: Data Bias In a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado-Perez, who shows the reader through statistical analysis, assorted data, social designs, and variou

Blog #45

Why You Say It, by Webb Garrison, is an intriguing collection of why certain phrases have taken hold in our language. For example, the term pipe dream was connected with the use of opium. People using opium talk crazy. So an idea that sounds crazy, like Einstein’s claim that the energy of a system equals its mass times light speed squared might easily be described, at its beginning, as a pipe dream. Or we might be talking about a real pipe dream. Kid McCoy was an exceedingly talented boxer during the 1890s. But he looked friendly and amiable. Certainly not threatening. And he lived in a time when there was no TV or movies. So bullies who ran into him in a bar were not likely to recognize him