This review will be in draft mode for a while. I actually got this book way back in 2002 when it was first pub'd. What a confusing mess!
I haven't read...moreThis review will be in draft mode for a while. I actually got this book way back in 2002 when it was first pub'd. What a confusing mess!
I haven't read any of Barrows' other books, so I can't say whether he can't (IMO) write clear books in general or whether the lack of clarity is an issue with Constants... In the first chapter -- heck, even in the Preface -- the author should LIST off (bullet, number, letter, etc.) the Constants (symbol and all) followed by a one- or two-sentence description. Next, and to a lesser degree perhaps, one chapter should be dedicated to each Constant. Finally, a Glossary should be provided with brief definitions for each constant. That's the LEAST an author needs to do to treat a topic as important and potentially complex as "the Constants of Nature".
Barrow has done none of that ... this book was frustrating!
If you go thru some of Barrow's YouTube videos and articles in New Scientist, you'll note that he's not really a bad communicator. The video lectures are clear and structured and worth watching. The same clarity needs to given to a topic as important as the Constants of Nature ... not sure this book will ever be revised ... but all we need is someone to dedicate a Blog or Wiki article to the topic. Books are kinda inconvenient nowadays anyway.
In 2007, the Journal NATURE reported: Physicists whittle down the number of truly fundamental constants. "How many physical constants does it take to describe the Universe? The answer, according to a team of physicists in Brazil, is just two.
The two can be chosen, according to taste, from a list of three: the speed of light, the strength of gravity, and Planck’s constant, which relates the energy to the frequency of a particle of light, say George Matsas of the São Paulo State University and his colleagues.
Once two constants have been chosen from that list, they say, those are the only parameters that need have units of measurement ascribed to them. Everything else — for example, the charge or the mass of an electron, or the strength of nuclear forces — can be described in relation to these two 'dimensional' constants." More here: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/07122...(less)
This is a review-in-progress. First, SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you don't want spoilage -- not that you'd lose much given my OVERALL opinion of the n...moreThis is a review-in-progress. First, SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you don't want spoilage -- not that you'd lose much given my OVERALL opinion of the novel.
REALLY disappointed by very end -- it ends with one of weakest fiction devices known: a romantic vow and kiss -- aka the happily-ever-after plot device . Never thought Asimov would succumb to this. Then again this one was written a few years before he bought the farm ... seems as if his noodle was already on its way out ... out to lunch, that is.
Otherwise well written, but inconsistent, uneven and a bit immature.
I know he tries to tie Prelude into his other series, but IMO his ROBOT series was the best, esp. the 50s-70s stuff. His stand-alone novels were decent, too: Gods Themselves, Nemesis, etc.(less)
For me, Forever War is turning out a bit hard to swallow ... for a couple of reasons ... The audiobook narrator -- George K. Wilson -- is 'bad' (=borin...moreFor me, Forever War is turning out a bit hard to swallow ... for a couple of reasons ... The audiobook narrator -- George K. Wilson -- is 'bad' (=boring). He's same performer as some Crichton audios and I didn't care for his perf. on those either. In its orig tradit./textual (= silent read) format -- the fmt in which I started this read -- I STILL found the novel BORING (reason I switched to audio -- its my personal approach to experimenting with reads, switching [even combining] fmts to see which strategy 'reads' best). Maybe I simply never found military sci-fi all that interesting and/or Haldeman's style is just not my cup of tea ... I may end up NOT completing this novel -- in any format.(less)
Mostly formulaic. Some good writing ... but WEAK story and plot. ABANDONED after 100 pages. THIS is Lescroart's top-rated?? Not even worth further com...moreMostly formulaic. Some good writing ... but WEAK story and plot. ABANDONED after 100 pages. THIS is Lescroart's top-rated?? Not even worth further comment!(less)