A fascinating and informative book about Alan Turing. Starting the story with his parents, the books then tells the story of his childhood until his dA fascinating and informative book about Alan Turing. Starting the story with his parents, the books then tells the story of his childhood until his death from poison which was officially deemed a suicide.
The amount of detail on Turing's life covered in the book is enormous. During his childhood in public school, the book shows Turing to be an unusual boy, with a thirst for knowledge in both science and mathematics; and also developing an unusual relationship with Christopher Morcom. But it was to end in tragedy with the early death of Morcom.
Deciding between science and maths he decides to major in mathematics in Kings College. It is there that he writes his famous paper that was to feature the Turing Machine and its use in the 'Entscheidungsproblem', showing that it was not possible for a machine to determine whether a problem was solvable or not in a less than infinite time. It was not recognised at the time for the groundbreaking paper that it was in computers.
The book then covers his time at Princeton before his return to Britain at the start of World War II. It was here that his work in mathematics is recognised as important for helping to break the various encryption methods being used by the Germans, primarily the Enigma in its various forms. Turing concentrates mainly on the naval Enigma, and the book here gives an overall view of the efforts of many people at Bletchley Park to break the German's encryption, with the help of machines (like the Bombe) that Turing helps to create.
After the war, the book looks at Turing's efforts to create a computer based on the ideas he had developed earlier for the Turing machine. He designs the ACE, with ideas that many computer engineers would be familiar with nowadays, but would be considered ground-breaking at the time. But bureaucracy and Turing' lack of 'people skills' would see the project delayed and ultimately trimmed back from his initial vision.
In the 1950s, the book looks as his ideas and opinions about computer intelligence and how computers would be used in the future. And it is here that trouble develops. The book mentions his various homosexual relationships throughout the 1930 and 1940s but it would a relationship with a man whom he suspects to have robbed him that would cause the police to investigate him and then charge him for the crime of homosexuality. The tale then ends with his death, officially a suicide.
Written in the 1980s, the book thoroughly covers Turing's life, with plenty of footnotes and references. Some knowledge of computer science, computer engineering and mathematics is also needed to grasp and appreciate just how advanced Turing's ideas were at the time when computers as we know it were just being created and were still huge machines limited to research and large companies....more
A marvelous book about, Greg Egan, whom I consider one of 'hardest' of Hard-SF writers currently writing.
Egan is famously a very private person, withA marvelous book about, Greg Egan, whom I consider one of 'hardest' of Hard-SF writers currently writing.
Egan is famously a very private person, with no verified images of him online and known to very few people personally in the SF area. So it was interesting to read a book about him and to discover more about Egan personally, rather than what he shows through his works of fiction and website.
The first chapter gives an overview of Egan's work, showing his progression from writing initially more horror related stories, through works about biology to his current works on world and universe building.
Other chapters then cover Egan's thoughts on ethics, what makes a person, attitude towards science and how society sees science. Each chapter uses summaries and passages from Egan's works to illustrate how Egan sees the world.
As an introduction to the works of Egan and as a way to know the author better, this is an excellent book. But be warned that you'll need some knowledge of the physical and biological sciences in order to get a proper appreciation of his writing. Egan is one writer who expects his readers to be excited not just by the characters in his books but also by the science he uses to explain the environment the characters interact in....more
A fantastic book about the life of Arthur C. Clarke, as told by those close to him, his brother, Fred, various members of the BIS (British InterplanetA fantastic book about the life of Arthur C. Clarke, as told by those close to him, his brother, Fred, various members of the BIS (British Interplanetary Society) and other people who have worked with him from around the world.
Starting with his early life, it shows how intelligent and mischievous Arthur and his brother were; earning numerous spankings from their mother and disciplinary action from their school. His early addiction to science and science fiction were then sparked by American pulp SF magazines, used as ballast by ships coming from the USA.
Moving forward, it then shows the growing number of contacts with people with similar interests that he makes in Britain, culminating in the formation of the British Interplanetary Society, in which role as its Chairman, he would loudly and frequently promote the usage of rockets and science as a way to explore the solar system. His growing fame would make him well know to one and all, through his books (both fiction and non-fiction) and in the movies via his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick for "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Later chapters in the book show how influential Clarke would be in the promotion of science and space exploration and show him to be a person who cares about people; and that a lot of people care about him.
Not quite a biography, this book is more of a tribute book to Clarke, that shows how influential he was and continues to be to the people who know him....more
A fun, short, biographical book about three very important women: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas who studied chimpanzees, gorillas andA fun, short, biographical book about three very important women: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas who studied chimpanzees, gorillas and orang utans, respectively. It also shows the background influence of Louis Leakey, who meets and influences them to study the primates.
The book looks at their fascination for the primates and what they (and their companions) had to go through to be accepted by the primates in order to do their observations that would change how the world would look at them.
Told mostly in multiple first person viewpoints, the book starts with Goodall, moves on to Fossey and then to Galdikas before bringing them back together at the end. It also shows the differences in personality between the three with Fossey having the most confrontational approach which is probably influenced by the primates they studied: of the three, gorillas were the most under threat.
Nicely illustrated, this is a graphic novel that will quickly introduce you to three important women in anthropology and primatology and may leave you wanting to find out more about them....more
A graphic novel about one of the most entertaining scientists of the 20th century. If you already know about Feynman and read some of his books (eitheA graphic novel about one of the most entertaining scientists of the 20th century. If you already know about Feynman and read some of his books (either the entertaining general ones or the entertaining scientific ones), then you will probably not find much that is new.
For somebody who doesn't know about Feynman, this book gives a good introduction to one of the most colourful Nobel Prize winning physicists of the 20th century.
The book covers Feynman's early years to his death, skimming over many of the significant events of his life but giving emphasis to some events like his first marriage to Arline (Arlene) Greenbaum, his work on the atomic bomb, his healthy dis-respect for authority, his famous work on QED (quantum electrodynamics) that lead to his Nobel Prize, the commission investigating the Challenger Shuttle disaster, his failing health and his attempts to get to Tuva.
A long list of books and references is provided at the end and you should go and read some of them to get a better insight into Feynman.
The story-line is a bit jumpy (episodic) and the artwork is simplistic (not very detailed) and at times I had trouble identifying the people represented in some of the illustrations. The artist also recreates some photos of Feynman found in many books and it is an interesting exercise to find them and put them in context.
Overall, an average book about a non-average character. But it would be hard for any one book to capture the overall personality of such a huge character as Richard Feynman....more