Several readers have commented in disappointment about the lack of information about Leavitt. This book's title gives its true subject - the author inSeveral readers have commented in disappointment about the lack of information about Leavitt. This book's title gives its true subject - the author included as much about Leavitt as is available in the records (not much, but what there is, is fascinating...) but focused much more intently on Leavitt's discovery of the period/luminosity relationship and how it fit into the canon of astronomy, specifically in providing a kind of "measuring stick" to calculate distance to stars too far away to triangulate. Her discovery of this quality of variable stars led to the recognition of galaxies outside of our own and helped us estimate the size and age of the universe itself. I felt that Johnson did an excellent job of explaining the science behind calculating distance beyond what trigonometry can do, and showing how Leavitt's work fit into the question and the evolution of the answer: where are we in the universe?...more
This is the most beautiful play I've ever read, and everyone should read it. So many tears at the end, and a sense of the vastness of the universe andThis is the most beautiful play I've ever read, and everyone should read it. So many tears at the end, and a sense of the vastness of the universe and how tiny and fleeting we are....more
One can never tire of reading about Dr. Feynman and his insights into How We Do Physics. How Feynman did physics is so different from how most peopleOne can never tire of reading about Dr. Feynman and his insights into How We Do Physics. How Feynman did physics is so different from how most people do physics, and reading about it makes me wish for a way to jump into his mind and watch the way he thought about things from the inside out.
The narrator of the book, Dr. Mlodinow, was a young physicist when Feynman was nearing what was (sadly) to be the end of his career. While I read, I was partly envious of Mlodinow's opportunities to pester Feynman in his office at Cal-Tech, partly excited by Mlodinow's self-discoveries in his first year at Cal-Tech, and partly empathetic with Feynman over the annoyance of young, brash physicists barging into his office to interrupt the work. That's what makes me feel this is an excellent book - when an author creates several conflicting but true and reasonable feelings for a reader in one work, I feel the author has done a good job.
This book is an easy, quick read, and if you've ever wondered about what, exactly, physicists DO, how they go about their work and make these ground-breaking discoveries, this is a fair introduction to the life of a physicist/scientist. As a would-be scientist myself, I appreciated it, but I think even someone who does not want to be a scientist would enjoy this exploration of the culture of physicists.
I also appreciate that Mlodinow etches out that notion that scientists are all unimaginative logic with no creativity - you cannot be a scientist without imagination and creativity! Scientists have to use intuition for discovery, and rigorous logic for confirmation, but to discover anything at all, a scientist must first approach problems creatively, imaginatively. The book has some excellent passages illustrating the hows and whys of these facts.
To sum up, Feynman's Rainbow is an excellent book about physics, about scientists, about academic culture, and most especially about Feynman himself....more
I did not care for Phebe Mitchell Kendall's commentary, but the letters and journals of Maria Mitchell were wonderful to read. I was so sorry to reachI did not care for Phebe Mitchell Kendall's commentary, but the letters and journals of Maria Mitchell were wonderful to read. I was so sorry to reach the end of this book; I could have gone on reading Ms. Mitchell's words about astronomy, science, the education of women, and women's rights, forever. ...more