I found this book in the library in Southampton while looking for books and stories about Myanmar. It is a fascinated story of exploration in the remoI found this book in the library in Southampton while looking for books and stories about Myanmar. It is a fascinated story of exploration in the remote region of Northern Myanmar. It is also the personal journey and quest of a passionate and complicated man who in the depths of the winter, he learned that there was within him an invincible summer....more
Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. Lewis and ClarkMarie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? These and many other fascinating stories in.......more
Soddy argued that all life depended on energy. All energy came ultimately from the sun and could be converted to a form which couldInstead of review
Soddy argued that all life depended on energy. All energy came ultimately from the sun and could be converted to a form which could only be used by animals by the actions of plants. The tendency of this energy is entropic, it moves only in one direction, to imperceptibly warn the oceans. Periods of prosperity in the past have depended on finding new sources of power and new discoveries. The use of coal depended not only on the sinking of mines, but on the discovery that using it for fuelling machinery could develop new kinds of power and technical achievement. Whatever discoveries might be made, there would still be a dependence on sunshine, on revenue of energy.
Energy in a form which could be utilised for life could not be stored. Bodies need food and this food ultimately decays, therefore it must constantly be replaced and no discovery had (has?) yet been made which can replace the plant in this process, which Soddy labelled ‘life-use’. Populations come to the limit of expansion of food supply, even after attempting to expand this through colonisation and factory manufacture and artificial fertilizers.
This leads to a race for markets for the produce of factories which results in reducing capacity for food production. At this point he concludes “the aspects of this mad system which is now uppermost in the minds of many thoughtful people, its inevitable end in world-war’. ...more
Whatever we do to mitigate global worming by setting caps and trading carbon credits, the forces we have set in motion will radically change the worldWhatever we do to mitigate global worming by setting caps and trading carbon credits, the forces we have set in motion will radically change the world we live in over the next millennium.
As with the power of genetically modifying our offspring and, before that, domesticating plants and animals during the Neolithic period, we have set in motion transgenerational forces whose ultimate effects we simply cannot predict. Although much of the debate around global warming centres on models and predictions, with science at the fore, the fact that we have started something that will affect us in some form or another is a certainty. Global warming will probably be the biggest social challenge of the twenty-first century – and perhaps beyond – as we adjust to these climatic changes. And if history is a guide, these changes will be profound indeed....more
The book covers a lot of stuff, it provides a good scientific overview and examines the history and politics of climate change. I was particularly intThe book covers a lot of stuff, it provides a good scientific overview and examines the history and politics of climate change. I was particularly interested in Naomi Oreskes' piece "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?". Enlightening and easy to understand....more
It is quite rare to read a book about infection diseases and actually think that it could make a great detective story.
David Quammen has written thisIt is quite rare to read a book about infection diseases and actually think that it could make a great detective story.
David Quammen has written this fascinated book about zoonoses, the animal infections transmissible to humans, and has made epidemiology look like a super-exciting field. I almost regretted for not taking biology more seriously during my University years.
His vivid style and his ability to explain complex subjects clearly makes the book gripping and lively and the material accessible to everyone. Quammen examines the most important viruses HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Ebola, Hendra, Nippah (never heard of Hendra and Nippah before), SARS and Marburg, including the story of their outbreaks, the importance of their reservoir hosts and the environmental factors that altered the host’s ecology and facilitated the movement of viruses beyond their natural ecological niches. The chapter on HIV/AIDS is quite fascinated, it reads like a detective story.
Another interesting part of the book is the description of the places that Quammen visited while researching for the book. It makes the story more dynamic and animated, especially if you – like me – love to travel and learn about different cultures. It is also explains why isolating countries won’t keep viruses away. Travel advices or restrictions will not stop people to be curious and adventurous or simply to want to trade with each other. ...more
What happens to us Is irrelevant to the world’s geology But what happens to the world’s geology Is not irrelevant to us
Science has been trWhat happens to us Is irrelevant to the world’s geology But what happens to the world’s geology Is not irrelevant to us
Science has been trying to humble the hubris of humans from the start, in a series of what Sigmund Freud refereed as ‘dethronements’. The first dethronement was of the Earth as the centre of the universe. Second was our dethronement as a unique creation in the image of God. Third (in Freud’s op;inion was his demystification of the human mind’s deepest motivations.
Science is not often thanked for delivered such slights to our collective ego; though in fact these blows have been nothing like crushing enough. For when, we find ourselves standing on the brick of destruction it will be our arrogance, as much as the ignorance on which it feeds, that will prove our undoing.
Science cannot tell us everything that matters about being human, but it provides us with the only practical knowledge of the natural world in which we have any reason to believe. But science teaches us another important lesson – that there is no absolute knowledge of any kind - either about Earth, or anything else.
---------- Earth scientists often complain, with reason, that politicians underuse the full potential of their subject, especially for the benefit of the vulnerable (for which read ‘poor’) people living in unsafe housing in unstable places. But in dramatic situations, like the 2004 tsunami’s aftermath this feeling to a pitch higher than mere frustration. That feeling is despair:
that the world is still so ruled by the short-term, by superstition, inertia and irrationality, and their humane, possibilist long-term view of the world in not only ignored but even denied. ...more