Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

February 25, 2013

Sundiver by David Brin

Filed under: Science Fiction,Series — Tags: , , — Randolph @ 10:07 am

Sundiver by David Brin

David Brin has a degree in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in space science from UCSD. He writes hard science fiction, and has won 2 Hugos (Startide Rising 1984, The Uplift War 1987) and 1 Nebula award (Startide Rising). Half of his books are part of the Uplift series for which he is famous.

Sundiver is the first in the Uplift series. It introduces us to the concept of the uplift, which is where a senior species with space travel selects a primitive race. Then through training and genetics, helps that species advance to the point of space travel. That species then owes service to the senior.

In Sundiver, the self-uplifting humans work with a team of aliens to dive into the Sun to explore a new sentient species unknown to the galaxy. The first dive ended in disaster, and a subsequent trip has problems that suggest sabotage. The story has intrigue and borders on being a mystery, except that the reader does not have sufficient backstory information to attempt a solution and must follow the story line.

The book sets up some interesting politics and potential for further stories, evidenced by the large number of books in the series. We are introduced to a new Earth with restrictions on travel, some odd cultural subgroups, and alien zones. Since humanity is self-uplifted, there is some resentment among other species who owe debts for having space travel and being part of a galactic community. We only experience a few aliens, they are unique and well thought out.

I had difficulty understanding the main character, Jacob Demwa. His character was not well defined for me, maybe I missed something. The book opened with him working with some sentient dolphins, when he was invited to join an expedition to study the solar chromosphere. It wasn’t clear why this character was important to the project. In spite of this weakness, the story is well told, the technology is interesting, and the pace is very good.

February 21, 2013

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

Filed under: Science — Randolph @ 10:55 am

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss

Laurence Krauss is a theoretical physicist doing work in cosmology and teaching at the Arizona State University. He is doing research into the nature of General Relativity, dark matter, and nuclear physics. In this book, he discusses the beginning and end of the universe, bringing to light the current theories as to why there is anything, why the physical laws are as they are, and what will come of it all.

He does a good job of discussing complex physics in terms that anyone can understand. The book goes into details about how empty space has energy and its consequences, touching on string theory, extra dimensions. Dr. Krauss walks us through his argument on why nothing is unstable, so there must be something. Its enough to warp the mind!

The book is entertaining and enlightening. You will walk away with a better understanding of our universe, even if it doesn’t have practical applications.

February 7, 2013

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Filed under: Favorites,Science — Randolph @ 2:55 pm

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who earned the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics. He has done research into our decision-making processes uncovering a wealth of information about how we make bad decisions and why. This book delves into that research.

The book explores our brain in two different aspects, we have an intuitive mind that makes quick decisions based on generalizations, and an analytical mind that tries to analyze information. Each of these methods works very well in many cases, but both fail extraordinarily in many specific cases. Daniel Kahneman explores these, uncovering many ways we make bad decisions and revealing why.

The book is full of interesting anecdotes that really drive the points home. He discusses a lot of research and the conclusions that can be drawn from them. The hope is that with an understanding of why we make bad decisions and recognizing them in others will help us recognize them in ourselves.

Overall, the book is very informative and easy to read. Everyone should consider reading this to improve your own decision-making abilities.

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