I'll begin by saying that this might be an obscure book or reason for a book to people outside the University of Washington or the sundial community.I'll begin by saying that this might be an obscure book or reason for a book to people outside the University of Washington or the sundial community. Or maybe not; what do I know?
Woody Sullivan is ... well... he looks a bit like an eccentric scientist, with his scraggly beard, hiking shorts, and high socks. I took his History of Science, Physics, and Astronomy class at the UW my first official quarter at the school, and boy was I intimidated. He's hella smart, and I felt totally out of my element when I tried to follow all of his lectures about the history of science and about how this scientist led to that scientist, and this theory interwove with that theory. At some point, though, I learned that he makes sundials, which is pretty cool.
But I didn't realize the grandness of his sundials until I was long out of the UW. I mean, Bill Nye! He's worked with Bill Nye the Science Guy (which, in the Seattle area, is WAY cooler than it is to the rest of the world. I mean, I understand that Bill Nye is impressive everywhere, but in Seattle, he's even more of an icon)! And put a sundial on Mars?!? His sundials are so spiffy that local media will do a story on him every now and then, which is a far cry from just the mad scientist teacher I thought he was (He made us shock ourselves with Leyden jars or some other contraption he showed us on a tour of the spooky basement of some crazy science building! I still don't know where we were that day or how we got there. But there it was: a spooky basement with crazy contraptions lining the hallways.)
Okay, so he makes sundials that are pretty cool and have gone to other planets. THAT is cool. But then I didn't know how even bigger he was in the science community, in general, until I was listening to a podcast (a local podcast, sure) earlier this year and he was mentioned in reference to the search for life in other parts of the universe, and his many books and articles were mentioned. What? He's written books? He's enough of an expert that he's referred to by other members of the science world? What? The crazy guy I had for that one class? Really?
So then I started looking up his work, and found this book: The New Astronomy: Opening the Electromagnetic Window and Expanding Our View of Planet Earth: A Meeting to Honor Woody Sullivan on His 60th Birthday. They had a conference in honor of his birthday! With scientists from around the world presenting papers! Holy crap! I was in the presence of greatness that quarter and never realized it!
So now the book: there are 18 articles about various topics in science and astronomy, including astrobiology, radio astronomy, and... sundials! Some of the articles are really good, some went over my head, some were brief overviews of a topic or a specific scientist, and some were just short and I wasn't sure why they were included. But my favorites, by far, were the two about sundials: sundials in history, making new sundials, making art out of sundials (The UW had an art/science class where the students learned about, and then made their own, sundials! I wish I'd been there!), and making other optics-related art.
So now everyone should look up Woody Sullivan and his sundials. They're pretty damn cool! And if you've ever thought about looking for life on other planets, think about Woody when you think about SETI....more
Holy moses. This book is LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. It's not that I mind long books, it's that this book is so dense! It's really about 4 major topics, anHoly moses. This book is LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. It's not that I mind long books, it's that this book is so dense! It's really about 4 major topics, and Hodges includes a whole lot of minutiae about each topic: Turing's life in general; cryptography/Enigma/WWII; the invention of the computer; and Turing's homosexuality (which, even though it's part of his life in general, it's such a large topic). So take 4 major topics, add EVERY little detail about each of them, and then smoosh them all into one book, and you get one LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG book.
So, on the one hand, this book is good because it's detailed, and so it makes a good biography. On the other hand, though, there are SO many aspects of Turing's life (his family, his personal life, his work, his friends), and with ALL those details, my eyes started to glaze over quite often. Plus Hodges makes a lot of outside references/analogies (I don't need you to keep comparing people and situations to characters and events in Alice in Wonderland), and includes SO much detail about the history of certain topics, that I personally felt like a lot could have been cut out.
Just for reference, if you're reading this book for specific topics, here's a rough guide (obviously each of these topics is mentioned in more than just the pages I'm listing, but the meat of the topics are in these pages): cryptography/Enigma: pages 185-331 invention of computers: starts around page 394 Turing's homosexuality at the end of his life (his "crime" and how it relates to the end of his life): pages 565-614 and he dies 50 pages before the end of the book!...more
This was SUCH a good book! I'd imagine almost every one knows the story of Apollo 13 -- if you weren't alive for it, you know of the Tom Hanks, "HoustThis was SUCH a good book! I'd imagine almost every one knows the story of Apollo 13 -- if you weren't alive for it, you know of the Tom Hanks, "Houston, we have a problem" movie. Even if you didn't see the movie, they've got a problem! You know they're in a spaceship, far, far from home, and they've got a problem! You know the story. And most likely, you've seen the movie, too, so you know what a harrowing experience it was, and all of the man hours, from the crew in the ship to the rooms of people in Mission Control and their pads of paper and MacGyver-like fixes for some of the problems, that went in to saving the astronauts.
And it was SUCH a good movie! But the book was good, too! The two are a great complement to each other. While reading the book, I never felt like I was wasting my time, like I got everything out of watching the movie. On the other hand, trying to imagine I'd read the book first, I still think watching the movie would be good because everyone in the movie is SO good at bringing the story to life! Reading the book, I can imagine that it was scary, and the book described how Jim Lovell kept his attitude calm most of the time, because that's his training. But to *see* Tom Hanks with those same emotions on his face or in his voice bring Lovell's and Kluger's words and descriptions to life.
SUCH a good book! SUCH a good movie! SUCH a great pair together! Read the book! Watch the movie! Do both!...more
The Frontline documentary based on this book was very thorough, and I don't feel like I would have missed anything substantial had I not read the bookThe Frontline documentary based on this book was very thorough, and I don't feel like I would have missed anything substantial had I not read the book -- the show was that well done. That said, the book is able to go into greater depth of backstories, explanations, and analysis. The book and the Frontline episode are definitely great companion pieces: both are intriguing and informative, working as standalone works or as a set. Neither makes you feel like you wasted your time with one or the other.
Based on the title, and knowing some about how the NFL handled the original "concussions=>brain damage" studies, you'd think that there are two major sides/players in this: 1) the NFL, which doesn't want to believe that football-related head injuries lead to long-term brain damage; and 2) the scientists who study football players' brains and see that the injuries *do* lead to brain damage. Just two sides? Haha! You're wrong! It's amazing HOW MANY different segments there are. It's not just NFL officials vs. doctors; it's NFL officials; NFL's doctors (the first round); the scientists who discovered the chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players; .... wait, the NFL officials ousted their first set of doctors, so now there's a second set; ... oh, and a different set of doctors who study the disease and, like the first set of scientists/doctors, still think the NFL is wrong, but they're warring against that first set that said the NFL was wrong. Oh my God! Not only is this book about science/the workings of the brain and about the clash between Big Business Football and the scientists who are trying to make a point about head trauma, but there's also the soap opera of one faction against another, so there are now around 6 different groups to keep track of! (And since the Frontline documentary wasn't three days long, it could only touch on this fact of competing groups, but the book can go so much more in-depth, which just leaves me really confused trying to keep track of all the groups, especially when they keep changing! Person A is part of group A; then group A ousts person A; then Person A goes to group B; on and on and on. It's a soap opera!) The only thing that's certain in this back-and-forth is that the NFL seems to be trying to cover up the notion that concussions lead to an increase in brain damage, and that NFL players tend to get a LOT of concussions. (Although, even the "NFL" changes, because they bring in or get rid of scientists who did or go on to be on the "concussions cause brain damage" side. Can't the whole saga just be one side vs. another side, with no back-and-forth and no third and fourth sides?!? Concussions bad. Brain damage bad. Fix it.)...more