Entertaining for those of us who like to see differential equations applied to cooking. Using his own home-brewing (outlined in the 2nd chapter) as aEntertaining for those of us who like to see differential equations applied to cooking. Using his own home-brewing (outlined in the 2nd chapter) as a guide to the steps of brewing,he describes the population dynamics of the yeast, the thermodynamics of heating the mash (also considering the heat generated by the metabolism of the yeast themselves), bubble formation (a complicated matter in beer due to the surface acting agents that derive from the mash), and some information about the pumping (in bars and commercial breweries) and commercial distribution of beer. Even the last item involves math; since the 1960s university business programs have used a beer distribution game (available on-line or as an iPad app) to teach supply chain management. The contents are not entirely mathematical. The first chapter relates the history of brewing, and the differences between top-fermented, bottom-fermented, and Belgian (which uses the yeast present in the environment) beers. How hops came to be used in brewing also is described. The growth and use of the yeast within the wort is more complicated than I had realized, because yeast can either reproduce quickly when oxygen is present, or slowly without oxygen, in which case alcohol is byproduct. Also home or craft brewed beers may continue to ferment a bit after bottling if the yeast hasn't been filtered out. Commercial breweries often add artificial carbonation or also, if the head of foam needs to be made more visually appealing, nitrogen gas to the bottles. Nitrogen gas, and also the pasteurization that commercial beers may be subject to in order to preserve them for delivery, alter the flavor. ...more
Mary Roach focuses on the science, medicine & technology intended to keep US military personnel alive, or at least repair them, rather than on weaMary Roach focuses on the science, medicine & technology intended to keep US military personnel alive, or at least repair them, rather than on weapons ( with the partial exception of attempts to develop a nonlethal stink bomb). Topics include the effects of sleeplessness, heat stress, shark repellents (no luck in developing such, and as sharks invariably prefer corpses and shark attacks on the living are much rarer than expected, probably should't be a priorty), training scenarios intended to reduce mistakes due to stress (by training Navy corpsman [don't know if there a gender neutral term to substitute] in a repurposed Hollywood studio with very realistic special effects and actors), hearing protection that screens out bangs but assists in hearing voices (real not imaginary ones, that is), and, for the non- squeamish, diarrehea, genital reconstruction (men only considered) and the use of autopsies to determine if treatments for traumatic injury & blood loss had been correctly applied. As is usual with Her writing, Mary Roach is both alarming and amusing....more
Agnes Smith Lewis (1843 - 1926) and Margaret Dunlop Gibson (1843-1920) were identical twin Scottish sisters who made important contributions to our knAgnes Smith Lewis (1843 - 1926) and Margaret Dunlop Gibson (1843-1920) were identical twin Scottish sisters who made important contributions to our knowledge of the Bible. Their most important contribution was bringing to attention of the world an ancient manuscript copy of the Bible which they found in 1892 at St. Catherine's monastery on Mount Sinai. They also provided Solomn Schecter, an Orthodox Jewish scholar then at Cambridge University with the retrieval of the Jewish documents found in the Cairo Genizah.
The Biblical manuscript they found was a palimpsest, a book written on vellum that had been scrapped so the vellum could be reused another book, a popular (judging from how well it had been thumbed) and apparently racy collection of lives of early female saints. Apparently the older written becomes visible again after been exposed to the atmosphere for a sufficiently long time after the vellum has been scrapped. The manuscript was written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken. Ironically the Gospels were written in Greek, so this Syriac Bible was a translation. Although at the time discovery Agnes, the main instigator of this particular venture by the sisters and the only one of the twins who at the time could read Syriac, was not familiar with paleography, the study of ancient writing, luckily the scribe who had written the overlying text had dated it upon completion in 697.
This discovery was not really an accident. Agnes had been told by the Cambridge scholar Rendel Harris that when he had previously visited the monastery here was a cupboard filled with Syriac manuscripts that he hadn't had time to look over. Agnes had been studying Aramaic in preparation for their trip.
The sisters photographed the manuscript, and it was these photographs that attracted the attention of other scholars at Cambridge. A return trip to the monastery to copy out the manuscript by hand was organized, this time to include besides the sisters the Cambridge scholars Robert Bensly, his ally Francis Burkitt, and at the twin's instigation Rendel Harris. Agnes Bensly and Amy Persis Burkitt , the wives of Robert and Francis, also came along. Unfortunately, there had been no attempt to put anyone in particular in charge of this expedition, which combined some private letters being shown to the press, other collectively written letters not being delivered and thus not making it into the press, and sexism, led to a priority dispute between the Bensly and Burkitt camps on one side and the Harris and the twins on the other. During this trip burktt, Bensly and Harris copied out the manuscript, while the twins cataloged the monastery's books, the first time that had been done.
The twins were not faculty at Cambridge and did not have a formal higher education. I think it would have been impossible for them to receive such an education in Britain at the time of their birth, because women couldn't get university degrees. None of this meant that the twins were ill-educated; in fact they were well-educated and in particular were excellent linguists. This circumstance, unusual at the time, arose because their father had basically raised them the way he would have raised boys, and in particular hit upon the happy expedient of rewarding them with a visit to a new country every time they learned a new language. I suspect he would not have done this had the twin's mother, Margaret Smith, not died two weeks after giving birth; her husband resolved not to remarry and to bring up the twins himself.
John Smith could afford to provide his daughters with an excellent education because he was a well-off lawyer in the Scottish city of Irvine, and he subsequently became much more wealthy do to the 1856 bequest of a childless distant relative (and legal client of Smith), John Ferguson. Ferguson had inherited his money from a parcel of childless uncles who made their money in the United States. Smith in turn was careful to craft a will which would ensure that his daughters, his only children, would continue to control their wealth should they marry.
The priority controversy arose roughly about the time the participants in the second trip to monastery had returned to Britain. Newspaper reports, based on private letters Harris had written to other scholars in the field, didn't mention Bensly and Burkitt's participation, and the agreed upon collective letters to the newspapers had never made it through the postal system of the Ottoman Empire to their intended recipients. Corrective letters to the press from the twins didn't change the coverage much, as the newspapers found the idea of twin widowed sisters in the 50s making the discovery all alone a better story. Bensly, who died shortly after returning to England, and Burkitt were understandably miffed by their lack of recognition, and also appear to have considered the sisters dilettantes who just happened to come across the manuscript (untrue, and in addition the twins had to steam the pages apart to look at it) and take a few pictures (400 pictures is not a small number). Somehow the story that the twins noticed the manuscript when a leaf of it was used to wrap their morning breakfast with the monks came into circulation (the twins never breakfasted with the monks and the monks weren't in the habit of tearing apart stuck together manuscripts to use as disposable dishes). Cambridge University was less welcoming of female scholars than more recently established universities in Britain; it would be several decades before women could receive degrees from Cambridge, though weirdly women's colleges had recently been established in the university and women could take the examinations for degrees (this last bit was a perennial source of embarrassment to the university when women came in with the highest examination marks).
The twins bulldozed on, producing a printed version of the manuscript, and establishing two series of publications through the Cambridge University Press devoted to texts from the monastery (including the lives of saints that had overwritten the manuscript) and texts in Syriac more generally. In 1897 the twins joined Schechter in Cairo, and assisted him in dealing with the Jewish manuscripts tored in the genizah of the oldest synagogue in the city. Agenizah is a room in which writings that contain the four letters of the name of God, or as time passed in Hebrew, are reverentially stored because they partake in the holiness of the divine. The documents in the genizah, which were very heterogeneous in subject matter, provide us with a much greater understanding of the medieval Jewish community in Cairo. The twins also made several more trips to the monastery.
The religious views of the sisters appear to have remained basically what you would expect from orthodox Presbyterians, though they did not believe that every word of the Bible has been transmitted to us, without error, as God intended. At one point their access to the monastery on Mt. Sinai was jeopardized when the Archbishop Porphyrios of St. Catherine's monastery read what Agnes had written about the monks in her book, How the Codex was Found.
The author, Jaet Soskice, writes wonderfully and the book reads more like a novel than a typical work of nonfiction....more
**spoiler alert** Of the 13, it's hard for me decide between the fate of, Emperor Nero's sex slave Sporus(whom he had castrated and married) or Anne B**spoiler alert** Of the 13, it's hard for me decide between the fate of, Emperor Nero's sex slave Sporus(whom he had castrated and married) or Anne Boleyn, beheaded at the behest of hubby King Henry VIII of England. Being Norman Mailer's spouse was also unfortunate but Adele Morales merely suffered attempted murder. Probably the best breakups were Debbie Reynolds and then Elizabeth Taylor being dumped by and dumping (respectively) Eddie Fisher, as also Reynolds was dumped so Eddie could marry Elizabeth, the 2 women were able to re-establish a friendship, based at least in part upon a shared dislike. Also Caroline Lamb and Byron probably enjoyed some of their fights. An entertaining if highly alarming book, with whimsical asides by the author that I enjoyed....more