jazzy_dave: (bookish)
John D. Barrow "The Book Of Nothing" (Vintage)

He may use flowery language to convey his thesis on the aspect of nothing and that to some he tried to cover so much stuff that it never lingered anywhere but when you are dealing with the vacuum of space in a non technical way to lay readers then you have to take time (in both senses of it as well as spactime) to convey such complex cosmological information. It may be heavy going at times but i did enjoy this book.

Perhaps not the best book to describe such things as the vacuum state,inflation, black body radiation , the cassimir effect or the value of the cosmological constant (lambda), so with this caveat i would suggest other books to read first.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Lisa Randall " Warped Passages : Unravelling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions" (Penguin)

Lisa Randall is a theoretical physicist who specializes in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. She explains the particles and forces depicted in that model, and where the model fails as a picture of the real subatomic world. For example, it does not explain gravity's weakness compared with electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Randall's proposed solutions to the deficiencies in the Standard Model, unlike some of the other propositions of string theory, can be experimentally tested.
Randall writes as clearly as possible, I think; but to follow the text is made much easier if one is already acquainted with some basic principles of theoretical physics.
One awaits eagerly the results of the tests at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN, which will or will not support her theories. If she turns out to be right, we will know that there is at least a 5th dimension to our universe and that the 'branes' of String Theory are real.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Richard A. Fortey "Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution" (Flamingo)

I started this with no idea how interesting I'd find it as geological or palaeontological subjects are not my normal cup of tea.

Trilobites were a group of arthropods which lived during the pre-Cambrian to Permian time periods from approximately 540-250 ma (million years ago). They ranged in size from a less than a millimeter to that of a dinner plate. They were salt-water creatures, some deep water crawlers and blind, some free-swimming, some along shallow shorelines. Their eyes (of those who had them) were made of calcite. Fossils abound worldwide, and that's what makes them particularly interesting even to the layperson: because of how long this class of animals survived, and their easily-fossilised exoskeleton, they have been of crucial help in plotting the movements of continental masses through several comings together and breakups, including Pangaea, about 300 ma, and the previous super continent, Pannotia (about 600 ma). For instance, did you know that England and Wales used to be part of a land mass which included eastern (but not western) Newfoundland? The land grouping is now referred to as Avalonia (who said scientists have no sense of humor?) Western Newfoundland was an ocean away. During the Ordovician (say 485 ma), the Laurentian continent, including North America and Greenland, lay along the equator - at a 90-degree angle to today's position. Northern Africa was at the South Pole.

The author, a British palaeontologist, uses biography, natural history, geology, and even a bit of travelogue to reel in the reader. I was enchanted.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Jan Zalasiewicz "The Planet in a Pebble : A journey into Earth's deep history" (Oxford Univ. Press)

Geologist Zalasiewicz tells the story of how a pebble is created. It could be any pebble, but for purposes of illustration, this one is from a beach in Wales. In telling that story, he tells the geology story of the entire earth. He starts with the stardust from which the planet was created and goes through to the pebble tossed along the Welsh shore, and then into the future and the eventual destruction of the planet.

What was great about this book is that it was not written in an academic tone, but instead is very readable and at times even funny. I think about what I learned from this book, I have a feeling that it is one of those books that taught me more than I could actually put into words, despite having done some geology in the science foundation course with the Open University way back in the late seventies.

Recommended for: geology geeks, and armchair geologists, and definitely recommended for anyone interested in the topic.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Michael White "The Science Of The X Files" (Legend)

This Book is an absolute must if you are interested in science and the paranormal and have been an X Files fan of long standing. It challenges all types of paranormal phenomena from time travel, aliens, ghosts to spontaneous human combustion. Michael White, a well respected scientist and author tackles paranormal beliefs with cold hard scientific knowledge without trying to explain them away.

It explores a number of different phenomena, suggestion how these might be possible - then equally highlighting the issues that would pretty much preclude the possibility. It then re-examines the issue and then really leaves it up to you to decide what you believe in.

jazzy_dave: (Default)
Book 16 - Philip Ball "Branches : Nature's Patterns" (Oxford University Press)

As part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at the form and growth of branching networks in the natural world, and what we can learn from them.

Many patterns in nature show a branching form - trees, river deltas, blood vessels, many patterns in nature show a branching form - trees, river deltas, blood vessels, lightning, the cracks that form in the glazing of pots. These networks share a peculiar geometry, finding a compromise between disorder and determinism, though some, like the hexagonal snowflake or the stones of the Devil's Causeway fall into a rigidly ordered structure. Branching networks are found at every level in biology - from the single cell to the ecosystem. Human-made networks too can come to share the same features, and if they don't, then it might be profitable to make them do so: nature's patterns tend to arise from economical solutions.

It is a slim volume that is generously illustrated with photographs, charts and mathematical models. For me though, there is Too much geography and biology, and not enough of the chemistry and physics.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
The sound of gravitational waves.


An explanation of what a gravitational wave is here -

jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
This could be awesome, The detection of gravity waves, and it is discovered by the collision of two black holes.

jazzy_dave: (Default)

Deborah Cadbury "The Dinosaur Hunters : A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery Of The Prehistoric World" (Fourth Estate)

This material, despite its inherent interest could easily have been dull in the hands of another writer. Thankfully, Cadbury keeps it very interesting, by turning it into a sort of group biography. This is the birth of paleontology, as told through the life histories of William Buckland, Mary Anning, Gideon Mantell, Richard Owen, Thomas Henry Huxley, and more. I particularly liked the story of Mary Anning, from carpenter's daughter to a key figure in paleontology, but always disadvantaged due to her class and gender. She sketches all these characters in with great deftness, and one enjoys learning little things about them as we go from "undergroundology" to the first instance of dinomania.

A well written, accessible, engaging popular science history that would appeal to most readers; possibly a little light for those with more interest or knowledge in the subject or more academic/intellectual tastes.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Dava Sobel "Longitude" (Fourth Estate)

This is a hard book to categorize. Is it history or science? In the end it does not quite fit into either category and that it is down to its brevity, about 176 pages long, which ultimately means that it lacks a certain depth. It tells the tale of a brilliant craftsman's battle against snobbery and vested interests to solve one of the biggest puzzles of his time. An uneducated Yorkshire man who ultimately succeeds against the London establishment.However, what is perhaps even more remarkable are the countless unknown sailors who were willing to cross vast oceans far away from the sight of land having no real idea as to where they were.

This is an easy as well as enjoyable read, a great introduction to the subject and there area a few interesting asides within as well. Harrison was certainly poorly treated by certain individuals however, I do feel that on a couple of occasions the author's own particular bias against the star gazers shines through a little too brightly to give a truly balanced feel. All the same give it a go, it might even make you look at your GPS enabled smart phone a little differently.

Overall, an enjoyable account of the development of methods to measure longitude, a fairly dry subject that she makes interesting.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
An article about the biggest quake that might happen in the next fifty years but uncertain as to when. And it is not the San Andreas faultline.

The Really Big One

jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
Explanation for why the shortest day was a day late -


Whilst it has been unusually warm , i fear that January and February will hit us with a real bang of cold weather, and as you know, i am an icy-weather hater!
jazzy_dave: (quantum who)
Just watched a BBC TB prog on the genius that was James Clerk Maxwell, a scientist who should be known better than he is. It was he who realized that electricity and magnetism were two parts of just one force, the electromagnetic force and that these forces are waves that eminate all of space.

"James Clerk Maxwell: The Man Who Made the Modern World
Professor Iain Stewart reveals the story behind the Scottish physicist who was Einstein's hero; James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell's discoveries not only inspired Einstein, but they helped shape our modern world - allowing the development of radio, TV, mobile phones and much more.
Despite this, he is largely unknown in his native land of Scotland. On the 150th anniversary of Maxwell's great equations, scientist Iain Stewart sets out to change that, and to celebrate the life, work and legacy of the man dubbed "Scotland's Forgotten Einstein".


\oint_{\partial \Sigma} \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathrm{d}\boldsymbol{\ell}  = - \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} \iint_{\Sigma} \mathbf{B} \cdot \mathrm{d}\mathbf{S}

Maxwell–Faraday equation - integral equation

\nabla \times \mathbf{E} = -\frac{\partial \mathbf{B}} {\partial t}

and the differential equation.

Meaning - The voltage accumulated around a closed circuit is proportional to the time rate of change of the magnetic flux it encloses.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)

As awesome as life on Mars could be I believe mostly self sustainable space stations would be a far more useful. These space stations could do research or even be massive production plants probably for various types of energy. Mars trips are cool for smaller space shuttles but the cost seems far too great to really colonize the planet effectively. What do you think of the idea of colonizing Mars?

Just one major problem with Mars , apart from others, is that it doesn't have enough nitrogen. Colonists there would develop severe protein deficiency and die. Titan may be a safer bet, except for it being even further away. Discuss.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
If you ever wanted to question your extant ontology then this will humble you -


Mind boggling isn't it.
jazzy_dave: (agent phil)
I slept really well last night. That journey must have tired me out. It was also a very nice pleasant sunny day after the last two dismal rain-soaked days.

Watched an Horizon science programme on the iPlayer last night about video games of all things. It was discussing whether violent video games were progenitors of violence in real life or not, and it was argued that it does seem to increase the propensity for violence, and that other factors such as frustration can also lead to such anti-social behaviour. They showed a version of Tetrus which was designed to increase frustration as the game designers introduced blocks into it randomly that would no way fit the rest of the blocks coming down. Anyway, a totally fascinating subject.

Link to programme here -


"Horizon -
2014-2015: 19. Are Video Games Really That Bad?
Horizon explores the differing opinions on video games. They frequently stand accused of causing violence and addiction in young people - but is there truth in the claim?"


jazzy_dave: (Default)

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