After reading Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I became very interested to learn more about some the historical figuresAfter reading Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I became very interested to learn more about some the historical figures around whom the story revolved – Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, John Wilkens, Christopher Wren, …, and Isaac Newton, the founders and early members of the Royal Society. Given my interest in physics, optics, and math, especially Isaac Newton.
Fortunately for me, James Gleick’s biography of Newton, simply titled Isaac Newton, was published earlier that year (2003). Gleick was not new to me – both Chaos: Making a New Science and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, have a place on my bookshelves – so I had high hopes for his biography of Newton. I was not disappointed.
Chances are you’ve heard of Isaac Newton, if for nothing else than the fact that he came up with the idea of gravity when he saw an apple fall from a tree. (Which, by the way, is a vast oversimplification.) You may have even heard of his 3 laws of motion or that he invented – some might say discovered – the calculus. You may even think that he invented calculus so he could figure out his laws of motion. (As it turns out, he used geometry.)
Newton didn’t actually publish – or care to publish – his work in mathematics, or anything else, until someone else published similar work. Unlike the rest of the fellows of the Royal Society, who were interested in sharing their new found knowledge as much as possible, Newton experimented and discovered and wrote to satisfy his own curiosity, not that of anyone else. Only in the very recent past have the many documents of Newton come to light, and it is through these many documents that Gleick tells this unique story of arguably the greatest mind ever.
Considering the subject, the book is relatively short with just under 200 pages of main text and about 50 pages of notes. It is a pretty quick read, though I did find that flipping back and forth to the end notes tended to slow me down. And if you are looking for detailed discussion and analysis of the actual content of Newton’s various writings, this is not your book.
If, however, you want to gain an understanding of what drove Newton, of why he wanted to figure things out, and get a glimpse into his incredible mind, this is an excellent book with which to begin....more
The best book I read in 2010, I would put it easily in the top 10, maybe top 5, of the most important books that helps me understand the nature of knoThe best book I read in 2010, I would put it easily in the top 10, maybe top 5, of the most important books that helps me understand the nature of knowledge work and how to best facilitate it. I really need to write a thorough review, but not tonight. ...more
If you are looking for an in depth study of the world's religions, this is not the book (nor is it intended to be). If, however, you would like to gaiIf you are looking for an in depth study of the world's religions, this is not the book (nor is it intended to be). If, however, you would like to gain a basic understanding of the history and purpose/goals of the eight "great" religions, this is a great place to start.
The underlying theme of God Is Not One is that all religions are not just the same thing in a different wrapper. In fact, Prothero says, you cannot understand a religion that is not yours by looking at it through the lens of your own religion. For example, Christians will never understand Islam or Daoism if they look at those religions in terms of how you can find salvation. (You can't).
All in all, an important book that would benefit anyone who wants to understand the rest of the world. You may even learn something new about your own religion....more
An excellent telling of the story of Nicholas Copernicus, the development of his heliocentric theory, and how it almost didn't see the light of day. AAn excellent telling of the story of Nicholas Copernicus, the development of his heliocentric theory, and how it almost didn't see the light of day. Along the way, Dava Sobel provides context of the age, specifically the political and religious conflict between the Roman Church and the "heretical" Lutherans. I was already familiar with Copernicus and his story, but learned quite a bit new.
I have read several of her other books, so I had high expectations that I would enjoy this one. (And it is about math and astronomy!) I wasn't disappointed. My only quibble with the book is her use of a play, a speculative one at that, to tell the middle part of the story. I understand why it is speculative, since there really is no record of what actually happened. And though I enjoy plays, and would probably enjoy hers, I've just never been a fan of reading plays.
I would also like to have seen a bit more of the scientific and mathematical details of Copernicus' ideas, but this was not the book for that. And rightly so. This book is something that anyone could read - should read - as a way to understand the scientific mind and the impact the environment can have on achievement....more
If you are interested in the history, and future, of money - specifically cash - this is a book you should read. A good intro to national currencies,If you are interested in the history, and future, of money - specifically cash - this is a book you should read. A good intro to national currencies, how money works in the international realm. Also some ideas from folks that many will think are, to use a word, crackpots. Do away with cash? What, are you nuts?
As much as I like the casual narrative style of the book, this is one case where I think I would have really enjoyed a bit more rigorous, if not quite academic, approach to help me better understand the issues and the arguments....more
An excellent critical analysis and commentary of the "books" of what Prothero calls the "American Bible", the seminal texts that have gotten us whereAn excellent critical analysis and commentary of the "books" of what Prothero calls the "American Bible", the seminal texts that have gotten us where we are and will likely guide us to where ever it is we are going. ...more
Well written for the most part, with the occasional detour into a personal rant. Presents a compelling case for Constitutional amendments that would rWell written for the most part, with the occasional detour into a personal rant. Presents a compelling case for Constitutional amendments that would return more power to the several States, but does not make the case that the States should have this power. If you believe the States should have this power, this book will help you better understand why and how. If you are of a more Federalist bent, this book gives you a good idea of what you are up against....more