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Book Club 2011 > March 2011 - Why I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mjkirkland) Here it is the last week of January and time to nominate books for the March 2011 read.

Don't miss the new book reviews that Steve posted in Science in the News located

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...

And as always, browse the group's bookshelf for ideas.

Nominations will be accepted until January 31. Post your nominations in reply at this thread.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul | 9 comments My nomination for science book of the month is: The emperor of all maladies.


message 3: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 88 comments I nominate The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/64...


message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments How about How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. This is not the Pluto Files, previously nominated. This is a newer book.


message 5: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 161 comments How about How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. This is not the Pluto Files, previously nominated. This is a newer book.

I really want to read that. I got it for Christmas and have been trying to make time.


message 6: by Melissa (last edited Jan 31, 2011 11:55AM) (new)

Melissa (mjkirkland) Today I am setting up the poll for the March read. And I can't resist adding There's a Hair in My Dirt! A Worm's Story to this list. Although it is by Gary Larson, it is full of soil ecology. However, it is such a short read it should only be considered as the second read for the month, in addition to the poll winner! Head on over to

http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/43...

and vote for the book you'd plan on reading for March. If you want to read There's a hair in my Dirt, vote for your first choice and then please comment because I'd love to talk about There's a Hair. Voting ends February 5, 2011.

If this is totally confusing, or if my impulsive addition and change to the usual routine is in some way annoying to you, please let me know.


message 7: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mjkirkland) The poll for the March book is closed, and the winner is How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.

This one looks good.


message 8: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 161 comments YES! Stoked.


message 9: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 174 comments Just received my copy today.
I am excited to start reading.
Impressions so far from anyone that has already started reading?


message 10: by David (last edited Mar 03, 2011 04:37AM) (new)

David Rubenstein | 922 comments Mod
Kathy, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is a great book. I love it because it tells a good story in the first-person point of view. It is a personal history of the author's investigations, discoveries, and controversies. You can get a good feeling of how science is really done, and you get a sense of the excitement and disappointments along the way. This is quite unlike most science books, that merely document what others have accomplished. In this regard, only one other science book I've recently read is comparable: Ravens in Winter, our August, 2010 Book.


message 11: by Marne (new)

Marne | 5 comments I finished How I Killed Pluto... a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. It not only shows how astronomers work but also some of the politics and in-fighting that go along with the science. I had no idea that some people could get so wound up about the naming of big objects in our solar system. My one complaint, it's very minor, is that I would have liked more science and a little less personal stuff. But even with that complaint I'd recommend this book to anyone who is even remotely interested in astronomy.


message 12: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments Anyone read it on a Kindle yet? That's my plan. Wondering how any illustrations and photos might have looked.


message 13: by David (new)

David Rubenstein | 922 comments Mod
Steve, there is just one illustration in the book--it is a line drawing. No photos.


message 14: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 161 comments I finished the first three chapters and it's freakin' awesome. I love this book, highly recommend it. It's a really quick read.


message 15: by Marne (new)

Marne | 5 comments I read the book on the Kindle. The line drawing was included. It's a little small but you can tell what's going on.


message 16: by E.P. (new)

E.P. Shirleyjack | 7 comments I love it because it tells a good story in the first-person point of view. It is a personal history of the author's investigations, discoveries, and controversies"

I also prefer science books that way. "Looking for Dilmun" is like that, to some extent.

Looking for Dilmun by Geoffrey Bibby


message 17: by Nolagrrrl (new)

Nolagrrrl | 1 comments I started this book this morning and I'm a third of the way through. Well written and enjoyable.


message 18: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 161 comments I cannot put this book down. Whenever I start reading I get absorbed.


message 19: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments Just downloaded it to my Kindle. Dang, the price went from $9.99 to $12.99 since I put in on my TR list a couple months ago.


message 20: by Eric (new)

Eric Bingham | 73 comments I just finished this book last night. I loved it! It's nice to be able to see these scientists as real people living real lives. I loved that he included so much personal information about his own life in the story. It would have been nice to see a little more science, but sometimes its nice for a change to read about science rather than just reading science. I did feel like the author definately had an axe to grind in regards to his "planet" being stolen by the Spanish, but it was very interesting to see how he responded to the situation as it unfolded. This book is unique in that I feel like I could recommend it to non-sceince readers, and they would be able to understand and appreciate it.


message 21: by Donna (new)

Donna (donnahr) I thoroughly enjoyed the book; I'm giving it 4 stars. While I also would have liked a bit more hard science, the story was really engaging. I think a non-science person could read this and enjoy it and come away with a better understanding of how the scientific process works and why it's a good thing that Pluto lost its planet status. I have tried to explain this to a number of friends over the past few years who seem to think it was just some whim of kill-joy scientists.

I liked the personal parts of Brown's story--his science-minded obsession with statistics relating to his daughter's first months cracked me up.


message 22: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (another_one_bites_the_dust) | 19 comments I decided that I'm going to write a lil about the book as I go along. Currently I'm on Chapter 4 and already I'm hooked. (I was hooked at page two but that's not the point!)

As I'm going page by page I've noticed that Brown is organizing his book just like Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok do in their book, Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang. He is so far building up to his discovery in the form of an epiphany, like you would see in any fiction novel. It's masterfully organized, bringing in his life experiences (probably to not only inform the reader of him, but also to make the reader view him as competent in his discipline) as well as applying his thought process. This is what I've found to be the most alluring aspect present in this book, the fact that he is letting us view the inner workings of his thought process. It's so RARE to find that in a science related book. Yes, he states the facts but he also makes it personal.

I'll probably update again when I hit Chapter 8 or so :)


message 23: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments I'm not quite half way through. He hooked me right away when I found out he lived aboard a small sailboat while going to grad school at UC Berkely, and then when he went to work at Caltech he bought a cabin up in the woods without indoor plumbing. My kinda guy. I agree with the foregoing comments about how deftly he weaves together the scientific and personal threads of the story. He uses nice analogies to explain aspects of the science. So far it's pulling me through like a thriller, as he races from one discovery to the next, constantly worrying he's about to be scooped.


message 24: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (another_one_bites_the_dust) | 19 comments My favorite pages of this whole book are 126-128; They talk about how there should be statistics on when babies are actually born compared to the "due date" the doctor initially gives.


message 25: by Donna (new)

Donna (donnahr) I couldn't believe this hasn't been done. I have a friend who is pregnant right now and we have been talking about how imprecise the calculation of the due date is. She found an online calculator that is supposed to be more accurate and it was a week different from her doctor had told her. Obviously, due dates can't be extremely accurate, but that statistics aren't run on this is really surprising to me.


message 26: by Eric (new)

Eric Bingham | 73 comments DonnaR wrote: "I couldn't believe this hasn't been done. I have a friend who is pregnant right now and we have been talking about how imprecise the calculation of the due date is. She found an online calculator..."

He did make a good point though that the bell curve would probably be skewed to the side of early delivery because of doctors "starting" women who go past their due date. (My wife is a diabetic, and they don't let us carry the baby to our due date.)


message 27: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments Finished it yesterday. Loved it. Here's my review: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/79...

In addition to his due-date fascination I thought it was incredibly cool that he learned to speak with his infant daughter using sign language before she could speak. I had never heard of this. Amazing.


message 28: by Eric (new)

Eric Bingham | 73 comments Steve wrote: "Finished it yesterday. Loved it. Here's my review: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/79...

In addition to his due-date fascination I thought it w..."


We did the "baby signs" with my first child, and it worked great. She picked up on the signs really fast and they helped her to be less frustrated because we could usually understant what she wanted.


message 29: by Alex (new)

Alex I've heard of the sign language idea; it seems totally legit. If we screw up and accidentally have one of those things, I'll totally do sign language with it. ("Anyone know how to say "You were a mistake"?)


message 30: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (another_one_bites_the_dust) | 19 comments I loved how his daughter seemingly mocked him for being, at the time, handicap! It was around that point in the book that I couldn't stop laughing. Almost every few pages there was some humourous event or wording.


message 31: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 23 comments Alex wrote: "I've heard of the sign language idea; it seems totally legit. If we screw up and accidentally have one of those things, I'll totally do sign language with it. ("Anyone know how to say "You were a..."

Funny Alex.
My brother and sister in law did some sign language with their kids. I guess its a fairly common thing these days.


message 32: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) I read it in one night. Lilah is a lucky little girl - I hope he continues to monitor his obsessions and stay close to her.

I was waiting for him to reveal the new definition of a planet, "1. is in orbit around the Sun, 2. has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (a nearly round shape), and 3. has "cleared the neighbourhood" around its orbit." (wikipedia) - Did I miss it?

And I'm still not 100% clear - is Pluto part of the Kuiper Belt?


message 33: by Steve (new)

Steve Van Slyke (steve_van_slyke) | 379 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "I was waiting for him to reveal the new definition of a planet, "1. i..."

No, you didn't miss it. That was one of the minor criticisms in my review, that he left out the crucial part about sweeping its orbit clear of planetesimals.

According to Wikipedia, Pluto is part of the Kuiper Belt.

I agree, Lilah is a lucky girl.


message 34: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 174 comments I'm a bit behind on reading this for March. Just finished today and absolutely loved it. Not perfect, but one of the more enjoyable reads for this year.


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