Books on the History of Science and Technology

I’ve discovered I like a certain kind of book. These books combine science or technology, politics, personalities, and history. In the past few years I’ve read a few books I thought combined these ingredients well.

ISBN is 0201328402 The first is The Inflationary Universe, by Alan Guth. If you’re interested in understanding what happened 10-36 seconds into the Big Bang (and who isn’t?), this is the book for you. Along the way, you’ll learn the politics of the modern university re publish or perish and getting tenure. Although The Inflationary Universe can be heavy slogging for those who don’t solve math problems to pass the time (and again, who doesn’t?), Guth recommends a chapter or two you can skip without missing anything more than a detailed exposition of inflationary cosmology. Highly recommended. I hope Guth decides to write another book.

ISBN is 061891868X The next book is The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next, by Lee Smolin. Trouble With Physics describes the history surrounding the various versions of string theory and why all of them are wrong, unprovable (“unfalsifiable” to be technically correct), or both. This book tends more to the politics of physics, deploring the near-religious fervor surrounding string theory and the excommunication of those who choose to research alternative theories. As Smolin is one of the heretics, Trouble With Physics sounds a little personal in places. Regardless, if you have half a “brane,” you’ll enjoy Trouble. (Ouch! That pun was so bad, it hurt!)

ISBN is 0670020338 The last book is Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking, by Charles Seife. Sun in a Bottle chronicles the history of fusion, starting with fusion bombs and moving to energy production, including magnetic- and laser-based hot fusion, cold fusion, and bubble fusion. World politics, national budgets, foreign espionage, and scientists’ personalities and political beliefs all contribute to fusion’s “strange history.” I remember my nuclear engineering professor in the early ’80’s saying fusion was a “dirty” process, generating tons of nuclear waste. After reading this book, you’ll understand why. Sun in a Bottle is not optimistic that fusion power can ease the energy crunch in the foreseeable future. Although that’s not good news, it’s important to keep in mind as politicians and environmentalists push us away from carbon-based production of electricity.

Take a look at these books. You might find you like them, too. I’m looking for similar books on different areas of science and technology. Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments below or using my contact information.

My Strengths According to Strengths Finder 2.0

My Top Five Strengths

Intel is making a big push in career development. The reasons are obvious:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Employee retention
  • Placing employees in positions where they will perform their best
  • Etc.

As part of this effort, I recently attended an eight-hour course on career development for managers. Throughout the course, the book Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath was repeatedly mentioned. As in, it would have been best if everyone had read the book and taken the associated test before attending the course. Oh well. No time like the present.

I took the test tonight, with the following results.

  • Input
  • Intellection
  • Adaptability
  • Learner
  • Arranger

Now I get to read the book and see what it all means.

Have you taken this test? Did it make any difference in your life?

Book and Blog: Gluten-Free Girl

ISBN is 0470137304

On the way home from guitar group last night, I stopped at Starbucks and Barnes & Noble. Very little compares to the relaxation of wandering through a bookstore with a hot drink in hand. I’ve been told that I need to visit the library more and book stores less, but I wasn’t particularly planning on buying much tonight. I wandered through the magazines, computers, technology, and science. I meandered down the center aisle to see the displays of new books. That’s when I discovered Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too, by Shauna James Ahern.

Gluten-free living is of interest in the Logan household because Suzi was diagnosed with celiac disease in the last year or two. We’d had an earlier brush with with it years ago when a doctor told us one of our daughters probably had it. Fortunately, he was wrong — the culprit was too much apple juice.

The book looked interesting, but remained on the shelf so I could do more research. Fortunately, Ms. Ahern has a blog, also called “Gluten-Free Girl.” I’m checking out her writing, recipes, and book tour schedule. She’ll be coming through Portland, Ore. in just a few weeks. Might be worth getting an autographed copy then.

I don’t know if you have celiac. According to the statistics a lot of people who do don’t know either. Either way, you might find Ms. Ahern’s blog and book worth a read.

Sabbatical Plans

My sabbatical starts when today ends. Wow! I still have too much to do or delegate…

I read recently about the concept of e-mail bankruptcy (thanks Josh for helping me find that link). Although it sounds tempting, I will process my e-mail inbox before sabbatical starts. Do or delegate is the plan.

My family and I will be traveling quite a bit, visiting family, friends, and interesting (and relaxing) locations. I will be taking my computer. After all, the camera’s flash card will get full and need to be emptied.

I’m also taking some books. Timothy Ferris’, The 4-Hour Workweek, seems appropriate sabbatical reading. I’m also taking Ray Kurzweil’s, The Singularity Is Near. I have some other unfinished books, but I’m also taking a sabbatical from politics, so that will limit what I take. History’s not politics, so that gives me some wiggle room. I might finish (I’ll probably have to start over) Lawrence Wright’s, The Looming Tower. We’ll see.

Blogging will be different — no politics. Maybe some travel pictures and maps. I’ll have to remember to take my GPS and see what I can do with it.

It’s going to be fun! ;-)

Books: Building a Contagious Church

ISBN is 9781400064281 I’ve been spending a lot of time doing a lot of different things; I’m not sure I’m finishing anything…

I recently started the book, Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It’s a very good book about communicating ideas so people will remember them. I had expected to be done reading it by now.

Instead, before I finished it, I got sidetracked. On the way out of town this last Friday to visit my in-laws for Mothers’ Day, we stopped by Christian Supply. My daughters “needed” some more books for the trip. And since it’s a bookstore, I had to find something for myself.

ISBN is 0521702658 ISBN is 0310221498 In addition to finding an NASB Bible with wide margins for taking notes, I discovered Building a Contagious Church, by Mark Mittelberg and Bill Hybels. You might not have heard of Mittelberg, but I bet you’ve heard of the Willow Creek church. Contagious Church explains how Willow Creek does evangelism or is evangelism in a step-by-step process.

ISBN is 0310210089 I am buying a few copies and passing them around to some people at church. Art, consider yourself warned.

There is a companion book, Becoming a Contagious Christian, that appears aimed more at the general church membership instead of the church leadership. Although I haven’t finished Contagious Church yet, I should finish it later this week (famous last words) and recommend it.

New Books

With my exercising, traveling, and reading, I haven’t taken much time to write here recently. I just updated my Books Page to list only books I bought within the last month or so. They are:

Reading now

On my shelf, not started

On my shopping list

Recommend something to me.

Recently read

Take a look at my Books Page for more information and handy (associate) links.

What have you read recently?

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The Da Vinci crock?

I plan to read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code as soon as one my friends can remember where he last put it. (No hurry, Steve. I already have too many titles on my bookshelf.) I have read (one of) its rebuttal(s), Cracking DaVinci’s Code: You’ve Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts, by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones.

Imagine my surprise to read that The DaVinci Code may be a work of plagiarism. Lewis Perdue, author of Da Vinci Legacy and Daughter of God, among many other books, is embroiled in a copyright suit with Dan Brown and Random House, Inc.

You can read about it on Perdue’s web sites or blog.

Looks like Perdue’s taking this one to the court of public opinion.

I Got My Free TNIV Bible

My free TNIV Bible came in the mail yesterday, just a few days after Rolling Stone ran Zondervan’s ad for it.

Here’s an excerpt:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17 TNIB

Tearing Through the Bible

I received The Message//Remix Bible for Christmas. I like it because it reads like a novel, not a reference book. There are no column notes, side notes, foot notes, end notes, nor cross references to distract me from the text. The text numbering is small and in the margins. I can pick it up and read a few chapters straight. It’s working: I’m up to 1 Kings 8.

In fact, I like this Bible so much, that I gave my parents one when I saw them a couple of weeks ago. While there, I learned that my mother is tearing through the Bible, too. Literally. Her Bible is in four pieces. She went to a conference having a section on reading the Bible through multiple times a year. We all have time. We just don’t have a Bible with us. The solution is to make the Bible small enough to carry.

What she did was quite simple.