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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What I'm reading now

I have a tendency to keep several books going at once.  Right now I have Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach, almost finished. Once again, very funny!   I also am reading The Duchess by Amanda Foreman which is about the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales.  It is a biography although it reads a bit like exciting historical fiction (without, as the critic from the Chicago Tribune says, "....the bodice-ripping details..." and believe me, bodice ripping was an expensive endeavor back then, all those intricate details on the clothes made BY HAND--that guy would truly have to be worth it!!).  I sometimes read fiction but only do so upon high, high praise of the book.  I also have waiting in the wings a book by theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind called The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics which I suspect will not tell me anything new about quantum mechanics, but will put a human face on the controversy surrounding Stephen Hawking's bold proclamations.

 

And finally, for my french translation course (French to English only--not quite ready for the other way around), I am reading Morts pour la science: Avertissement: La Science nuit gravement à la santé or Deaths for Science with the caution "Warning! Science is hazardous to your health".  It talks about murders, suicides and accidents related to scientific discoveries.  I need to translate a good 60 pages for the final in the course.  Once again, putting a human face on scientific discoveries in a slightly unconventional way. This class is pretty fun, because with what I've learned up to now, I can get on the Metro in Paris and carry on a conversation, in French, about cats being sent up in rockets (les fusées) to measure, during the course of the flight, a certain number of spontaneous or ellicited physiological and neurophysiological effects.  Indeed. I can't wait! 

 

(The other french class I am in is also enjoyable because it is phonetics, which is basically scientifically dissecting the auditory sounds and vocalizations of the language.  I might get better at listening and pronunciation--I hope, at least.  I decided I was burned out on grammar, so took a break from it this semester.)

 

If you happen to like your science in story form, might I suggest a series of books by the author (Joy Hakim) of the series on American history A History of US called The Story of Science. Overall, I enjoy the books as they are an easy way to read science (middle to high school level) with many pictures, tables, quotes from the scientists as well as a discussion of their discoveries in a historical flow.  My only complaint is that these books only cover the physical and chemical sciences, not life sciences, so don't expect all four years of high school science to be found in them.  

 

Until next time.

Kindly,

 

Joanne

 

 

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