This was a bit of an odd read. It started out well, very comprehensible and quite interesting, addressing the topic at hand effectively. It certainly...moreThis was a bit of an odd read. It started out well, very comprehensible and quite interesting, addressing the topic at hand effectively. It certainly sparked my already present interest in the topic of (mathematical) chaos. However as the book went on, it began to wander quite a bit, and near the end it almost felt like the author's mind wasn't quite there. There is a point where the author goes off on a tangent about how the reader clearly no longer wants responsibility for the creation of the universe... it comes off as quite odd and out of place, and the last several chapters offer only bits and pieces of interesting or useful information.
The book is certainly enough to give one an idea of what chaos is in mathematics (and to an extent in a few specific other fields), but it should be noted that it does not attempt to actually teach it (which could never be done in so few pages). In the goal of explaining it, I would say that the book does a decent job. What the book could really have used, however, is an editor who could detect and help to correct the points where the book begins to wander off its trail and keep the whole thing on topic and interesting.(less)
This is a very quick read, almost over before it even began. The writing is perhaps best described as quaint, and yet, despite that not being a style...moreThis is a very quick read, almost over before it even began. The writing is perhaps best described as quaint, and yet, despite that not being a style I would typically interest myself in, it is well executed here. The story is mainly focused on the mystery of the bell itself, and I never really felt that I came to know the characters more than a little, except perhaps for Ysabo. Still, the mystery element is well played, and so this only detract from the story a little; the story does run a bit slow in a couple places between plot points.
That said, the novel was interesting, and I was prompted to keep reading it to find out what happened next. It does a good job of instilling a sense of curiosity in the reader, not through frustrating cliffhangers, but rather through simply making one wonder what's about the next corner. Though I probably won't read the others in the series any time soon, this was a pleasant surprise for a random pick off of the library shelves.(less)
This was much more readable than a lot of the longer popular science books that I've encountered. Though still quite long, it varied a lot in topic, a...moreThis was much more readable than a lot of the longer popular science books that I've encountered. Though still quite long, it varied a lot in topic, and didn't dwell too much on any given detail. The history was given succinctly, and with a small dose of humour as well.
This isn't a book I'd suggest you pick up from the library and try to rush through though, it's more of something that you'd want to be able to read at your leisure a chapter or two at a time, so that you don't have to rush through it. There is a lot of information packed in these pages -- more than even the largish page count might intimate -- and it is helpful to let it settle after a chapter or two before pressing onward.(less)
A lot of people get confused -- and rightly so! -- upon hearing concepts like something being both dead and alive, something being everywhere (and/or...moreA lot of people get confused -- and rightly so! -- upon hearing concepts like something being both dead and alive, something being everywhere (and/or nowhere) at the same time, or things blinking into or out of existence. These very vague ideas that float around about what quantum physics is tend to lead people to disregard it or at least to give up on trying to understand it simply because it's too strange -- and too unbelievable.
The most amazing thing about this book is that you will be able to understand it. Maybe not every word, maybe not every concept, but Stephen Hawking does an amazing job at explaining the core ideas behind the concepts of quantum physics and M-theory that make it accessible to people who have never taken a college physics course in their lives.
Perhaps just as valuable, however, is the way he explains how modern scientific theory is formed. Great detail is given to the concept of model-dependant realism and on the value of a scientific theory lying in its ability to accurately measure that which we, humans, sense.
This is an excellent book for anyone curious about quantum physics who has not yet begun to study it, as well as for anyone who would like to get a glimpse of how modern scientific theories are selected for (or against). (less)
I've got to say, I initially wanted to give this book five stars, I really did, but there were just parts that were so arbitrary, almost annoying to r...moreI've got to say, I initially wanted to give this book five stars, I really did, but there were just parts that were so arbitrary, almost annoying to read. Bits and pieces about Canadians or Americans that seemed there just for the sake of including stereotypes. The argument about whether God existed seemed forced, and thrown in as an afterthought.
That said, these bits aside, the book was another great one. The story picks up smoothly from where it left off, and remains a solid one. Webmind's development is natural and makes sense as described. There continue to be interesting facts and theories presented in the book that satisfy one's nerdier side as well, of course. I personally can't wait for the third book.(less)
This book has some really interesting stuff in it, but it was just plain a slog to read through. The chapters have loads of details that are of, at be...moreThis book has some really interesting stuff in it, but it was just plain a slog to read through. The chapters have loads of details that are of, at best, passing interest, and it feels as though the book could have been condensed immensely. I found myself zipping through other non-fiction reads by comparison.
If you know how to speed read or how to skim effectively then this book is a bit better of a read. Things improved when I stopped trying to read every word cover to cover and just skimmed through the pages picking up the important details as I went. Moreover, it is around the last hundred pages of the book where the truly interesting information is held -- up to this point mostly deals with the history of various scientific fields that build up to this point.
Though there is a lot of interesting science in this book, it's worth noting that there's also a bit of supposition. Ideas like consciousness only arising within the last few thousand years makes one wonder, if true, how it was that it did so everywhere on the globe at once. Evolution would not act in that way -- such evolutionary traits would develop within larger regions, but clearly consciousness developed in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia (the native tribes thereof), etc. without any interbreeding taking place. At the very least, it still holds burden of proof.
That said, many of the ideas set forth do make perfect sense under today's science and knowledge, and the book contains enough of these to be more than worthwhile, if you can manage to dig your way through enough of it to get at them.(less)