Friday, January 30, 2015

Osborn, Stephanie. The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2013. ASIN B00FOR5LJ4. This book, available only for the Kindle, collects the first four novels of the author's Displaced Detective series. The individual books included here are The Arrival, At Speed, The Rendlesham Incident, and Endings and Beginnings. Each pair of books, in turn, comprises a single story, the first two The Case of the Displaced Detective and the latter two The Case of the Cosmological Killer. If you read only the first of either pair, it will be obvious that the story has been left...

Read more...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mazur, Joseph. Enlightening Symbols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-691-15463-3. Sometimes an invention is so profound and significant yet apparently obvious in retrospect that it is difficult to imagine how people around the world struggled over millennia to discover it, and how slowly it was to diffuse from its points of origin into general use. Such is the case for our modern decimal system of positional notation for numbers and the notation for algebra and other fields of mathematics which permits rapid calculation and transformation of expressions. This book, written with the extensive source citations of a scholarly work...

Read more...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Farmelo, Graham. The Strangest Man. New York: Basic Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-465-02210-6. Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born in 1902 in Bristol, England. His father, Charles, was a Swiss-French immigrant who made his living as a French teacher at a local school and as a private tutor in French. His mother, Florence (Flo), had given up her job as a librarian upon marrying Charles. The young Paul and his older brother Felix found themselves growing up in a very unusual, verging upon bizarre, home environment. Their father was as strict a disciplinarian at home as in the schoolroom, and spoke...

Read more...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here are my picks for the best books of 2014, fiction and nonfiction. These aren't the best books published this year, but rather the best I've read in the last twelvemonth. The winner in both categories is barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author's surname. Fiction: Winner: The Martian by Andy Weir Runners up: My Sweet Satan by Peter Cawdron Avogadro Corp. by William Hertling Honor Bound Honor Born by Steven D. Howe Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez Nonfiction: Winner: Miss Leavitt's Stars by...

Read more...

Robinson, Peter. How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. New York: Harper Perennial, 2003. ISBN 978-0-06-052400-5. In 1982, the author, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College who had spent two years studying at Oxford, then remained in England to write a novel, re-assessed his career prospects and concluded that, based upon experience, novelist did not rank high among them. He sent letters to everybody he thought might provide him leads on job opportunities. Only William F. Buckley replied, suggesting that Robinson contact his son, Christopher, then chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush, who might know of some openings...

Read more...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

All 25 of the public domain Tom Swift novels have been posted in the Tom Swift and His Pocket Library collection. I am now returning to the earlier novels, upgrading them to use the more modern typography of those I've done in recent years. The fourth novel in the series, Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat, has now been updated. Several typographical errors in the original edition have been corrected, and Unicode text entities are used for special characters such as single and double quotes and dashes. An EPUB edition of this novel is now available which may be downloaded...

Read more...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thor, Brad. Hidden Order. New York: Pocket Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4767-1710-4. This is the thirteenth in the author's Scot Harvath series, which began with The Lions of Lucerne (October 2010). Earlier novels have largely been in the mainstream of the “techno-thriller” genre, featuring missions in exotic locations confronting shadowy adversaries bent on inflicting great harm. The present book is a departure from this formula, being largely set in the United States and involving institutions considered pillars of the establishment such as the Federal Reserve System and the Central Intelligence Agency. A CIA operative “accidentally” runs into a senior intelligence official of...

Read more...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thorne, Kip. The Science of Interstellar. New York: W. W. Norton, 2014. ISBN 978-0-393-35137-8. Christopher Nolan's 2014 film Interstellar was eagerly awaited by science fiction enthusiasts who, having been sorely disappointed so many times by movies that crossed the line into fantasy by making up entirely implausible things to move the plot along, hoped that this effort would live up to its promise of getting the science (mostly) right and employing scientifically plausible speculation where our present knowledge is incomplete. The author of the present book is one of the most eminent physicists working in the field of general relativity...

Read more...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wade, Nicholas. A Troublesome Inheritance. New York: Penguin Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-59420-446-3. Geographically isolated populations of a species (unable to interbreed with others of their kind) will be subject to natural selection based upon their environment. If that environment differs from that of other members of the species, the isolated population will begin to diverge genetically, as genetic endowments which favour survival and more offspring are selected for. If the isolated population is sufficiently small, the mechanism of genetic drift may cause a specific genetic variant to become almost universal or absent in that population. If this process is repeated...

Read more...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weir, Andy. The Martian. New York: Broadway Books, [2011] 2014. ISBN 978-0-553-41802-6. Mark Watney was part of the six person crew of Ares 3 which landed on Mars to carry out an exploration mission in the vicinity of its landing site in Acidalia Planitia. The crew made a precision landing at the target where “presupply” cargo flights had already landed their habitation module, supplies for their stay on Mars, rovers and scientific instruments, and the ascent vehicle they would use to return to the Earth-Mars transit vehicle waiting for them in orbit. Just six days after landing, having set up...

Read more...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rawles, James Wesley. Liberators. New York: Dutton, 2014. ISBN 978-0-525-95391-3. This novel is the fifth in the series which began with Patriots (December 2008), then continued with Survivors (January 2012), Founders (October 2012), and Expatriates (October 2013), These books are not a conventional multi-volume narrative, in that all describe events in the lives of their characters in roughly the same time period surrounding “the Crunch”—a grid down societal collapse due to a debt crisis and hyperinflation. Taking place at the same time, you can read these books in any order, but if you haven't read the earlier novels you'll miss much of the back-story...

Read more...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Metzger, Th. Undercover Mormon. New York: Roadswell Editions, 2013. The author, whose spiritual journey had earlier led him to dabble with becoming a Mennonite, goes weekly to an acupuncturist named Rudy Kilowatt who believes in the power of crystals, attends neo-pagan fertility rituals in a friend's suburban back yard, had been oddly fascinated by Mormonism ever since, as a teenager, he attended the spectacular annual Mormon pageant at Hill Cumorah, near his home in upstate New York. He returned again and again for the spectacle of the pageant, and based upon his limited knowledge of Mormon doctrine, found himself...

Read more...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Schlosser, Eric. Command and Control. New York: Penguin, 2013. ISBN 978-0-14-312578-5. On the evening of September 18th, 1980 two U.S. Air Force airmen, members of a Propellant Transfer System (PTS) team, entered a Titan II missile silo near Damascus, Arkansas to perform a routine maintenance procedure. Earlier in the day they had been called to the site because a warning signal had indicated that pressure in the missile's second stage oxidiser tank was low. This was not unusual, especially for a missile which had recently been refuelled, as this one had, and the procedure of adding nitrogen gas to the...

Read more...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Rust to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Rust is now available for downloading. Rust is a systems programming language currently under development. It attempts to provide performance comparable to low-level programming languages such as C and C++ while avoiding common causes of crashes and security problems such as subscript and pointer errors, dangling pointers, memory leaks, and multi-thread race conditions. It is a compiled language with extensive compile-time checking which detects many errors which...

Read more...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Barry, John M. The Great Influenza. New York: Penguin, [2004] 2005. ISBN 978-0-14-303649-4. In the year 1800, the practice of medicine had changed little from that in antiquity. The rapid progress in other sciences in the 18th century had had little impact on medicine, which one historian called “the withered arm of science”. This began to change as the 19th century progressed. Researchers, mostly in Europe and especially in Germany, began to lay the foundations for a scientific approach to medicine and public health, understanding the causes of disease and searching for means of prevention and cure. The invention of...

Read more...


Powered by MovableType 4.23-en