Archive for Books I Want

You and the Universe – some ALibris Discounts

Yesterday I didn’t just discover the book about string theory, but I also discovered two or three news links about astronomy. Which put me in the mood for some astronomy stuff. And I happened to get some ALibris discounts to offer to people who’d be interested in astronomy books too (or, for that mater, other ALibris books found through this blog**).

So first of all, if you do want to go grab some of these books, here are some codes you can enter upon checking them out, to get discounts:

BLAIR $2 off $20

BACHMAN $4 off $40

DODGSON $6 off $60

PORTER $8 off $80

AROUET $10 off $100

GEISEL $15 off $150

Looks good, doesn’t it? By the way, those all expire at the end of October.

I was browsing just to see what would come up if I put “astronomy” into the link finder. A few things came up:

That’s The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next.

Or this one:

That is, Theories for Everything: An Illustrated History of Science.

And oooh! I’d really like to get this one myself:

That’s The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design.

I could go on and on. I love this stuff. I should stop peeking at ALibris or I could spend all the rent money in a trice. But I dearly love books like this, and would fill my house full of them if I could. Anyway, if you’re interested, go have a look at those books and grab them.

(**If you’re not familiar with ALibris, it’s a website where you can find used books, textbooks, and out-of-print books. Often when you can’t find them anywhere else. So go have a peek.)

String Theory for Dummies

Another book I want! String Theory For Dummies, by Andrew Zimmerman Jones, with contributions by Daniel Robbins.

Yes, I know that so far, String Theory is really just a bunch of equations that haven’t been properly tested. (At least, last I heard.) But you know what? I love physics, and especially physics that deals with outer space or things at the atomic level. I love reading and talking about it, even if I  never did get that Astrophysics degree I entered university to get. So I really, really, really want this book.

This article explains the ideas that the author tries to cover in the book: Tying string theory together: a new book attempts to explain string theory to the masses. Scientists working on the “theory of everything” certainly produce some interesting ideas. And of course, String Theory demonstrates why I didn’t end up getting that degree: I can’t even imagine the concept of eleven different dimensions. Once I get past the fourth (time), I completely blank out.

Jones has a degree in physics, and also minored in philosophy and mathematics. So he seems pretty qualified to write a book like this. Sometimes, though, you can know a lot about a subject but still not know how to make it really interesting or clear to others. But Jones also has a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education. And I notice that the first review of the book, at its String Theory for Dummies Amazon page, is by science fiction author Robert Sawyer. And he seems to think Jones has made the subject of String Theory very understandable to the lay person.

You get a slight hint of how Jones approaches things by reading his bio on Here’s a sample:

In the 8th grade, I tested into Mensa, mainly because my favorite author, Isaac Asimov, was also a member. I remain a member to this day. I am also an Eagle Scout and a Master Mason in the Freemasons … which, in total, means that I have secret plans to take over the world, but will likely be a benevolent dictator. I’m also a member of Toastmasters International, so I’ll be a well-spoken one as well.

Put all these things together, and I gnash my teeth. Because I absolutely can NOT afford to get this book right now.

But String Theory! Oh, how I want this book! 🙂

Another book I want: The Great Typo Hunt

Another book I want with a deep, abiding want! The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time.

It’s about two friends, Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson, who drove around the U.S. for a little over two months, correcting typos on commercial signs whenever the owners would let them.

For anyone — like me — who has always wanted to do this, the trip sounds like a dream come true. I want to do this!

Two facts really interested me: 1) There were no parts of the country where there was a higher proportion of errors than any other; and 2) The errors tended to predominate on signs that did not come from corporations.

The latter fact, I’m sure, stems from another fact: that corporations view their communication materials like professionals, and pay to have them done right, with proper editing. Other companies and establishments think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter that much,” don’t bother having their materials edited, and their signs and other documents end up looking like crap.

Tsk tsk! Editing is one of the most important elements of a good marketing and communications strategy! And yes, that is a plug for Shiny Ideas Editing and Writing Services. Ahem.

Anyway, this is yet another book I yearn for with a deep yearning.

The Disappearing Spoon – I Want This Book!

As you probably recall, I am a light science dabbler, someone who wishes she knew a lot more and had had the chance to study her favourite scientific subjects. My main love is astronomy and astrophysics, but I’m fascinated by things at the other end of the spectrum too, in the atomic realm.

As a result, I am postively avid to get this book: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, by Sam Kean, writer for Science magazine.

Kean himself describes the contents of the book by referring to the “money, petty politics, quackery, sex, war, and, yes, science” connected to the Periodic Table. Who knew? Doesn’t that intrigue you?

But what drew my attention to the existence of the book is the fact that for a few weeks this summer, Mr. Kean is Blogging the Period Table for Slate. He’s already written about mercury (his own “gateway element” for getting into the Table), hydrogen, antimony, selenium (was it was Custer was defeated at Little Big Horn??), and several others. He’ll be doing eighteen in all. And he assures us that these aren’t just a rehash or reprint of what’s in the book. So this is bonus material!

In the meantime, you can have a look at the Table of Contents and read an excerpt from the actual book at the Sam Kean website. I’m going to be catching up on the blog posts already done, and following those still to come. And I really, really want to get the book!

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