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Book Recommendation
Posted: 18 May 2013 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I saw an author talking about his book on Book TV. It sounds fascinating and one that people on AVC might like.  It’s called The Violinist’s Thumb, with the subtitle: And Other Tales of Love, War anHd Genius as Written by our Genetic Code, by Sam Kean, a physicist. 

From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes more incredible stories of science, history, language, and music, as told by our own DNA. 

In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In THE VIOLINIST’S THUMB, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.

There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK’s bronze skin (it wasn’t a tan) to Einstein’s genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.

Kean’s vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species’ future.


—-
I notice that the Book TV segment where Sam Kean, author of The Violinist’s Thumb, speaks about his book should be on again at 9PM Pacific Time, today, May 18th,  on CSPAN 2, though it’s hard to say exactly when he’ll be on since it says this segment will be on from 9 PM to 5 AM! (Someone on the channel said it would be on at midnight, whatever that means in terms of time zones). Worth seeing, though, if you can catch it.  It’s on the segment filmed at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. 

Lois

[ Edited: 18 May 2013 12:27 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 18 May 2013 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I just finished that book.  Not my normal reading but my dad sent it to me. It’s broken into several different stories of history, and science.
Kind of reads like a cross between Ripley’s Believe it or Not and a History textbook.
For me personally, it was ok…I found myself skimming in places.  It’s that kind of book…It doesn’t have to be read from front to back.
I’d give it a 3 out of 5.

[ Edited: 18 May 2013 12:56 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 09 June 2013 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I just finished listening to a very interesting audiobook. Not sure if I liked t so much because it hit on two key interests of mine ( space flight and figuring out how to fix things and solve problems) but I thought I would post it here. Its called “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Without giving too much away its a story about an astronaut who gets left behind on the third Mars mission and how he uses his head plus the available tools and materials to stay alive.

Its not so much a science fiction novel as it is a science “what if” since most of the technology discussed is stuff we already have. Its like a cross between Survivorman, Apollo 13, and Macgyver ( OK there’s a little nepotism there) on steroids.

What’s really fun about this book is that they don’t just show you the solution they show you how he works through it right down to the calculations and the science behind his ingenious solutions but with a sense of humor that makes you forget the drudgery of the brief number crunching. If you’re not into the math you can tune out for the 30 seconds it takes to go over it and not miss anything but for those who find it interesting its there.

I found it very educational ( should I ever land on Mars) and entertaining at the same time. Its demonstrates that no matter how much you plan you can’t anticipate every possible problem but if you recognize that fact you can prepare for failures in a way that allows you the chance to survive them. Cool stuff.

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Posted: 09 June 2013 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I enjoy most of what we call “science fiction”, but I think that we should call most of it “science fantasy”’ as it is generally, based on projections of what we might know or what could happen too far out into the future.  Fiction that is based on what we do know now and on current cutting edge technology, IMO, could more correctly be called “science fiction”. I certainly wouldn’t mind if this part of the genre became more popular and prevalent.

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Posted: 11 August 2013 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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macgyver - 09 June 2013 11:12 AM

I just finished listening to a very interesting audiobook. Not sure if I liked t so much because it hit on two key interests of mine ( space flight and figuring out how to fix things and solve problems) but I thought I would post it here. Its called “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Without giving too much away its a story about an astronaut who gets left behind on the third Mars mission and how he uses his head plus the available tools and materials to stay alive.

Its not so much a science fiction novel as it is a science “what if” since most of the technology discussed is stuff we already have. Its like a cross between Survivorman, Apollo 13, and Macgyver ( OK there’s a little nepotism there) on steroids.

What’s really fun about this book is that they don’t just show you the solution they show you how he works through it right down to the calculations and the science behind his ingenious solutions but with a sense of humor that makes you forget the drudgery of the brief number crunching. If you’re not into the math you can tune out for the 30 seconds it takes to go over it and not miss anything but for those who find it interesting its there.

I found it very educational ( should I ever land on Mars) and entertaining at the same time. Its demonstrates that no matter how much you plan you can’t anticipate every possible problem but if you recognize that fact you can prepare for failures in a way that allows you the chance to survive them. Cool stuff.

I just finished this book, and its the bee’s knees, IMHO. Reads like early Heinlein, only with more swearing, but that only adds to the realism, since if you’re in that kind of situation, you’re probably going to be doing a lot of swearing. A dead tree version is due out next year, for those who might be interested in reading it. Hopefully, someone like Christopher Nolan will pick up the film rights and turn it into a decent movie.

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Posted: 22 May 2014 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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macgyver - 09 June 2013 11:12 AM

I just finished listening to a very interesting audiobook. Not sure if I liked t so much because it hit on two key interests of mine ( space flight and figuring out how to fix things and solve problems) but I thought I would post it here. Its called “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Without giving too much away its a story about an astronaut who gets left behind on the third Mars mission and how he uses his head plus the available tools and materials to stay alive.

Its not so much a science fiction novel as it is a science “what if” since most of the technology discussed is stuff we already have. Its like a cross between Survivorman, Apollo 13, and Macgyver ( OK there’s a little nepotism there) on steroids.

What’s really fun about this book is that they don’t just show you the solution they show you how he works through it right down to the calculations and the science behind his ingenious solutions but with a sense of humor that makes you forget the drudgery of the brief number crunching. If you’re not into the math you can tune out for the 30 seconds it takes to go over it and not miss anything but for those who find it interesting its there.

I found it very educational ( should I ever land on Mars) and entertaining at the same time. Its demonstrates that no matter how much you plan you can’t anticipate every possible problem but if you recognize that fact you can prepare for failures in a way that allows you the chance to survive them. Cool stuff.

[Professor Farnsworth] Good news, everyone!  Ridley Scott’s interested in directing! [/PF]  (Those of you familiar with Futurama will know that whenever the Professor says, “Good news!” there’s always a catch.  In this case, the catch is that he wants Matt Damon to star in the film.)

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“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me’.” ― Philip K. Dick

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Posted: 23 May 2014 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Violinist’s Thumb sounds interesting, Lois.  It also sounds as if it vaidates much of what George has been saying about the power of genetics on our behavior as well as structure for quite a while.

Occam

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Posted: 23 May 2014 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Coldheart Tucker - 22 May 2014 07:16 PM
macgyver - 09 June 2013 11:12 AM

I just finished listening to a very interesting audiobook. Not sure if I liked t so much because it hit on two key interests of mine ( space flight and figuring out how to fix things and solve problems) but I thought I would post it here. Its called “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Without giving too much away its a story about an astronaut who gets left behind on the third Mars mission and how he uses his head plus the available tools and materials to stay alive.

Its not so much a science fiction novel as it is a science “what if” since most of the technology discussed is stuff we already have. Its like a cross between Survivorman, Apollo 13, and Macgyver ( OK there’s a little nepotism there) on steroids.

What’s really fun about this book is that they don’t just show you the solution they show you how he works through it right down to the calculations and the science behind his ingenious solutions but with a sense of humor that makes you forget the drudgery of the brief number crunching. If you’re not into the math you can tune out for the 30 seconds it takes to go over it and not miss anything but for those who find it interesting its there.

I found it very educational ( should I ever land on Mars) and entertaining at the same time. Its demonstrates that no matter how much you plan you can’t anticipate every possible problem but if you recognize that fact you can prepare for failures in a way that allows you the chance to survive them. Cool stuff.

[Professor Farnsworth] Good news, everyone!  Ridley Scott’s interested in directing! [/PF]  (Those of you familiar with Futurama will know that whenever the Professor says, “Good news!” there’s always a catch.  In this case, the catch is that he wants Matt Damon to star in the film.)

That’s great assuming the “catch” doesn’t get in the way of healing. Where did you see the news?

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Posted: 23 May 2014 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/ridley-scott-direct-matt-damon-703887

I’d rather see Chiwetel Ejiofor from 12 Years a Slave as Watney.

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The Atheist in the Trailer Park

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Posted: 23 May 2014 07:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks for the link CT. I’m looking forward to this. I just hope they don’t water down the science so much as to make the whole thing a silly adventure movie. Watney’s ingenuity and his command of the basic scientific principals are what made the book great.

[ Edited: 23 May 2014 07:15 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 24 May 2014 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Matt Damon played the math genius in Good Will Hunting.  He can probably pull it off…  So, good news, everyone!

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 10 June 2014 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I just finished this fascinating read on the leading edge thoughts in cosmology.

THE COSMIC COCKTAIL
Freese, Katherine (2014-05-04). The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter (Science Essentials). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

An interesting read for those of you who follow such stuff

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“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.”—Voltaire

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Posted: 12 June 2014 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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For you non-fiction fans
The Story of Earth, the first 4.5 billion years from star dust to living planet.  Robert Hazen ©2012
“The testimony of rocks.”


Delves into the complete story of the evolution of life,
this time not neglecting the development of the minerals that formed the building blocks for life,
which then became the building blocks of more advanced life.

For those who have followed the development of our understanding of evolution and have always had
an inkling that the “boring billion”, that early period when conventional wisdom tells us nothing happened
on Earth, weren’t so boring after all, this book is a gratifying and enlightening read… {listen red face }


http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13483740-the-story-of-earth

just stumbled on this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6OPsxTa2P0
Robert Hazen presents his lecture “Genesis” spring 2007 - haven’t listened to it yet, but it’s on the list.

[ Edited: 12 June 2014 07:27 AM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 12 June 2014 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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For you non-fiction fans
The Story of Earth, the first 4.5 billion years from star dust to living planet.  Robert Hazen ©2012
“The testimony of rocks.”


I have to be pretty Picky about what I buy, limited funds being an impediment, but this one sounds interesting CC. I’m definitely going to add it to my Kindle. I read a few reviews and an excerpt and liked what I saw, also checked out Hazen’s bio. Impressive. Thanks for the tip.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 12 June 2014 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 12 June 2014 12:03 PM

I have to be pretty Picky about what I buy, limited funds being an impediment, but this one sounds interesting CC. I’m definitely going to add it to my Kindle. I read a few reviews and an excerpt and liked what I saw, also checked out Hazen’s bio. Impressive. Thanks for the tip.

Me too. That’s why I’ve become a regular at the library.  cheese

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 12 June 2014 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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My problem with the local libraries, and I can visit them in three States, is their limited amount of science related books and almost no books on religion save Bible commentaries. They can do inter library loans but sometimes it’s a fairly long waiting period. I’m also a verrrry slow reader and hate time limits on reading materiel. We do have some excellent college libraries though and I can check out books for a full semester if I want.


Cap’t Jack

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