Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature by Gordon Kane

Filed under:Science — posted by Randolph on July 25, 2022 @ 11:27 am

This is a light-weight book on particle physics with no math, touching on elements of quantum chromodynamics. It starts with basics of quantum mechanics and a basic introduction to Feynman diagrams. It discusses basic mechanics of the standard model, why it needs extensions and how we can get there. Dr. Kane goes into the capabilities of different colliders and their different technologies, then dives into supersymmetry particles, the search for the Higgs particle and string theory.

In spite of the topic, it is a fairly easy read, written well and is interesting, written at a good level for anyone interested in the material but not extremely versed in the science itself.

Dr. Kane is a professor at the U. of Michigan, director emeritus at the Leinweber Institute for Theoretical Physics and is a leader in string theory.

Anansi Boys by Neal Gaiman

Filed under:Fantasy — posted by Randolph on July 14, 2022 @ 3:47 pm

This book is billed as a sequel to American Gods but bears little resemblance to the former other than the theme that gods walk on Earth among men.

This is the story of Charlie Nancy, Fat Charlie, who dislikes his father whom he regards as extravagant and irresponsible. Nancy is getting married, his fiancé wants him to invite his father to the wedding. This precipitates a road of discovery into his own past and his family, including an unknown brother.

Charlie’s and his brother have an unusual relationship, uncomfortable, maybe untrusting, but grows as they are thrust together.

Charlie is a rather weak character, both literary and his personal character. Not particularly likable, but his growth through the book changes him greatly.

The writing is above average and is engaging. And the book is funny. There are only a few primary characters, interesting and mysterious, and Charlie meets a number of peculiar characters in his journey.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the French* (But were Afraid to Ask) by Gaspard Chevallier

Filed under:Nonfiction — posted by Randolph on July 8, 2022 @ 2:26 pm

The book discusses the French culture by providing a brief introduction to numerous topics and then supporting anecdotes. The topics are grouped by chapter discussing subject including love, fashion and art, cusine, wine, nationalism, sports and international relationships among others.

It starts with a series of weakly-related anecdotes that left me dry, suspecting the book wasn’t going to deliver much of value. But after getting into the book, the character seemed to change and became much more interesting.

It could have used some editing, most of it was pretty good but there were a few typos-into-other-words that tend to get missed by spellcheckers and perhaps less aware editors. For instance, on page 20 the text indicates that Jaques-Yves Cousteau redacted a treaty for protecting Antarctica, if so, he should be ashamed! The problems are few and sometimes amusing.

The book is informative and amusing, a fun and fairly quick read.

Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey

Filed under:Science Fiction — posted by Randolph on July 3, 2022 @ 8:02 am

This is the seventh book in The Expanse series, it takes place thirty years after the events in Babylon’s Ashes. Earth and Mars are part of a coalition and the Belt has come into its own power governing trade through the gate.

The Roci is sent on an incidental mission to Freehold, where Holden renegotiates the Transport Union’s demands on Freehold, who would have died from those demands. Holden brings back Houston, their leader as prisoner. On returning, Holden and Noami decide to retire leaving the Roci to Bobbie as captain.

The main plot revolves around Laconia, who has been experimenting with the protomolecule and developing new technologies. The Laconians invade with one ship, quickly taking over the Medina station, leaving Santiago Singh as governor, then heading for the inner planets, with another ship on-way to the gate. The Roci crew don’t have access to their ship and join Saba in the underground. Jim Holden is ultimately taken prisoner and transported to Laconia. The first Laconian ship was defeated in a costly series of battles, but not destroyed. The book closes with Holden arriving on Laconia as prisoner and the Laconians still a looming thread with their second ship near to arriving.

Another twist is that when the Laconians use their protomolecule-based technologies, an odd black sphere appears on their primary ship and moves completely with the ship. Holden identified it as belonging to the people who destroyed the civilization that made the protomolecule.

One problem is that after 30 years from the last book, the characters have aged, but there doesn’t seem to be any character growth in that time. It’s still the same characters, the book could have taken a month and it would be the same, the time frame only seems to provide an opportunity for the Laconian technology development.

Aside from that, this is one of the better books in a while. It is a lot of action with some weird technologies thrown in.



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace