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DrT999

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Age : 60
Location : Piedmont of North Carolina
Registration date : 2011-08-31

PostSubject: New popular science titles   Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:55 pm

I am not a scientist, and I don't pretend to be one.  I am a historian of ideas & culture, and that includes the history of science, so I do consume a lot of popular science (magazines, books, documentaries).  Below are three new titles I've read over the last 6 weeks.

Neil deGrasse Tyson 'Astrophysics for People in a Hurry'
Jonathon B Losos 'Improbable Destinies'
Henry Fountain 'The Great Quake'

The first is the best of them.  Tyson explains the current views of astrophysics and the background pretty well and thoughtfully, and most of the filler material is interesting and again most is easily understood (at least from my view point) although some of the ideas are pretty esoteric.  He's a very good communicator and I recommend it for those interested.

Losos is trying to communicate current ideas on evolution, especially convergent evolution, and the 1st and final portions of the book get his point across, despite what seems to be some uncertainty on his part on what the major point(s) he's trying to get across might be.  The middle of the book describe a number of experiments he and others have done (if you really want to know how guppies and lizards and some other creatures/microscopic life have been used in excruciating detail in ecological evolution studies, you'll enjoy that section -- I found it tough going at times).  He also seems to falter in tying it all together when trying to tie all that info into his major points.

Fountain wants to detail how the great 1964 Alaska quake helped push the then not-quite accepted idea of continental drift.  (Or so the book cover claims.) He spends a lot more time on the personal stories of some of the geologists who tied the quake to the theories and on the stories of some of the people who survived the quake before and afterwards than he does writing about the actual events or science.  Weak recommendations for these last two.
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DrT999

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Age : 60
Location : Piedmont of North Carolina
Registration date : 2011-08-31

PostSubject: Re: New popular science titles   Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:24 am

'The Worst of Times' by Paul B Wignall, which examines the periods of extinction clustered around the assemblage of Pangea (about 80 million years), and centering on the largest of the mass extinctions, the Permian-Triassic.  While some of the info is presented in a way only a chemist or meteorologist could love, and there is plenty on phyla only a paleontologist can picture without looking them up, the overall story is pretty easy to follow. Recommended only for those interested in the current ideas on mass extinctions or history of life on Earth (as opposed to general interest).
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DrT999

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Age : 60
Location : Piedmont of North Carolina
Registration date : 2011-08-31

PostSubject: Re: New popular science titles   Wed May 02, 2018 8:17 pm

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte -- a nice overview of the current thinking on, unsurprisingly, the development & end of dinosaurs and the time in between. Maybe a bit more on tyrannosaurus-types (one of the author's main interests) than strictly necessary, but he uses that to flesh out other ideas. Recommended for those with even a general interest, but you might need a bit of background knowledge. 'Jurassic Park' wouldn't count, but watching things like 'Walking with Dinosaurs' and such would probably would. You can also see some videos he's made on youtube.
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