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Full title Cosmos [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Publisher Ballantine Books
Categories Astronomy, biology, chemistry, history, physics and science
Publication year 1985
Original publication year 1980
ISBN 978-0-345-33135-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 324
Synopsis

Cosmos is, as its title suggests, a book about the Cosmos. It's based upon (and can be considered a companion to) the TV series of the same name. There are thirteen chapters, each corresponding to the thirteen episodes.

The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean is setting the tone for the rest of the book. Sagan discusses the Cosmos on its largest scales, putting the Earth in perspective. He then discusses early attempts to measure the size of the Earth.

One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue is about evolution and our own species. It discusses various potential biologies that could be evolved on other worlds and muses on the implication of all this.

In the chapter Harmony of the Worlds, Sagan really shines. This chapter deals with astrology, astronomy, and the histories of both. (Sagan was an astronomer.) He explains Kepler's Laws, goes into the geocentric vs heliocentric models of the Solar System, and the history of planetary observation and theory-making.

Heaven and Hell is all about comets and asteroids. Sagan discusses the Tunguska event and the impact craters on the Moon, among other things.

Blues for a Red Planet is about Mars in fiction and fact. He goes into the canali of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell, H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds, and the Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He then discusses the Mars probes and the potential for terraforming Mars.

Travelers' Tales is about the sailing ships and the discoveries made during the Age of Exploration, with respects to astronomy and the study of the Cosmos.

The Backbone of Night is a discussion of myths from around the world on the creation and system of the Universe, veering into a discussion of the scientific explanations (and the evidence). There's a very charming three pages of imagined inner monolog by a curious and primitive ancestor dealing with his explanation for the stars. The chapter title is a reference to the name for the Milky Way that the !Kung people of the Kalahari desert use for it.

Travels in Space and Time is about the immensity of space and time. It begins with a discussion on constellations and astrology, and has a wonderful illustration of how a constellation (in the example, The Big Dipper) would look from other angles and in other eras. It then launches into an extended explanation of the speed of light and the various paradoxes attending it (such as time dilation).

The Lives of the Stars is about atoms, chemistry, and the lives of the stars (ahem), meaning the fates and types of stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars, supernovas, etc.).

The Edge of Forever lives up to its title. Its subject matter is the beginning of time, the extent of the Cosmos, and a very entertaining discussion on higher dimensions (reminiscent of, even directly referent to, Flatland). It also discusses mythological theories on the nature of time and the Cosmos.

The Persistence of Memory is about information, in the form of DNA and brains.

Encyclopaedia Galactica is really about galactic citizenship. It goes into UFOs, SETI, the Drake equation, and contact with other intelligent beings (what it would look like and what the implications would be). This is one of the more interesting chapters.

The book ends on a somewhat morose note with Who Speaks for Earth? The chapter deals with the planet and its various challenges, most conspicuously nuclear weapons and what to do about the potentiality of our destroying ourselves. After so many chapters of uplifting speculations and explorations of immensity, this chapter is a very sobering read.

Review

Where to start? When I watched the TV series in 2007 I was utterly blown away, and the book is even better. Being a book it's also much more detailed. If you've read anything by Sagan you know what to expect, but this work is simply breath-taking in its breadth and depth. It's personal, uplifting, educational, interesting... If you want to get a (biased, in a good sense) overview of the history of ideas and science, go read it.

Images Back of Cosmos.Spine of Cosmos.Front of Cosmos.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • I The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
  • II One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
  • III The Harmony of the Worlds
  • IV Heaven and Hell
  • V Blues for a Red Planet
  • VI Travelers' Tales
  • VII The Backbone of Night
  • VIII Travels in Space and Time
  • IX The Lives of the Stars
  • X The Edge of Forever
  • XI The Persistence of Memory
  • XII Encyclopaedia Galactica
  • XIII Who Speaks for Earth?
  • Appendix 1: Reductio ad Absurdum and the Square Root of Two
  • Appendix 2: The Five Pythagorean Solids
  • Further Reading
  • Index
Full title The Great Scientists: From Euclid to Stephen Hawking [permalink]
Language English
Authors John Farndon (author), Alex Woolf (co-author), Anne Rooney (co-author) and Liz Gogerly (co-author)
Publisher Eagle Editions
Categories History and science
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-1-84193-300-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 158
Synopsis

A book about scientists from Euclid, Archimedes, and Ptolemy to Faraday, Darwin, and Hawking, and the science they invented or practiced.

Images Back flap of The Great Scientists.Back of The Great Scientists.Spine of The Great Scientists.Front of The Great Scientists.Front flap of The Great Scientists.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • The Ancients
    • Euclid
    • Archimedes
    • Hipparchus & Claudius Ptolemy
  • The Middle Ages
    • The Medieval Arab Scientists
  • The Renaissance
    • Leonardo da Vinci
    • Nicolas Copernicus
    • Andreas Vesalius
    • Galileo Galilei
  • The Seventeenth Century
    • Christiaan Huygens
    • Anton van Leeuwenhoek
    • Robert Hooke
    • Sir Isaac Newton
  • The Eighteenth Century
    • Carolus Linnaeus
    • James Hutton
    • Antoine Lavoisier
    • John Dalton
  • The Nineteenth Century
    • Michael Faraday
    • Charles Babbage
    • Charles Darwin
    • Louis Pasteur
    • Gregor Mendel
    • Dmitri Mendeleyev
    • James Clerk Maxwell
  • The Twentieth Century
    • Max Planck
    • Marie Curie
    • Ernest Rutherford
    • Albert Einstein
    • Alfred Wegener
    • Niels Bohr
    • Edwin Hubble
    • Werner Heisenberg
    • Linus Pauling
    • The DNA Team: Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin
    • Stephen Hawking
  • Index
Full title The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed [permalink]
Language English
Author Bart D. Ehrman (author)
Categories History and religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0195343519 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Full title Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why [permalink]
Language English
Author Bart D. Ehrman (author)
Publisher HarperCollins
Categories History and religion
Publication year 2005
ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 242
Images Back flap of Misquoting Jesus.Back of Misquoting Jesus.Spine of Misquoting Jesus.Front of Misquoting Jesus.Front flap of Misquoting Jesus.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  1. The Beginnings of Christian Scripture
  2. The Copyists of the Early Christian Writings
  3. Texts of the New Testament: Editions, Manuscripts, and Differences
  4. The Quest for Origins: Methods and Discoveries
  5. Originals That Matter
  6. Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text
  7. The Social Worlds of the Text
  • Conclusion: Changing Scripture: Scribes, Authors, and Readers
  • Notes
  • Index
Full title The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'N'Roll [permalink]
Language English
Authors Joy Press (author) and Simon Reynolds (author)
Publisher Harvard University Press
Categories History and music
Publication year 1995
Original publication year 1994
ISBN 0-674-80272-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 410
Synopsis

Details the history of rock'n'roll from the perspective of gender and sex, and tracks musical trends from the beginning of rock'n'roll until the present.

Review

A good work with lots of wit and detail. I'm not that interested in the history of music (I just listen to it), so perhaps this book will be more interesting for someone whose interests lie in that direction.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction

part 1: rebel misogynies

  • 1 Angry Young Men: Precursors and Prototypes for Rock Rebellion
    Rebel Without A CauseLook Back In Anger•Jack Kerouac•Timothy Leary•Ken Kesey•Rolling Stones•
  • 2 She's Hit: Songs of Fear and Loathing
    •Rolling Stones•John's Children•Garage Punk•Led Zeppelin•Roxy Music•Tim Rose•Nick Cave•River's Edge
  • 3 Careers in Misogyny: The Stranglers and Malcolm McLaren
  • 4 Born to Run: Wanderlust, Wilderness and the Cult of Speed
    •The Doors•Rolling Stones•PiL•Gang of Four•Morrissey•Bob Dylan•Bruce Springsteen•Tom Petty•Iggy Pop•Lynyrd Skynyrd•Easy Rider•Neil Young•Kraftwerk•Hardcore Techno•
  • 5 Brothers in Arms: Combat Rock and Other Stories for Boys
    •The Clash•Thin Lizzy•Manic Street Preachers•Public Enemy•U2•
  • 6 Flirting With the Void: Abjection in Rock
    •The Stooges•Sex Pistols•Throbbing Gristle•Birthday Party•Scratch Acid•Grindcore•Alice in Chains•Nirvana•Henry Rollins•Devo•
  • 7 Wargasm: Metal and Machine Music
    •Futurists•Kraftwerk•Techno•Motorhead•Iggy Pop•Radio Birdman•David Bowie•Led Zeppelin•Young Gods•
  • 8 I Am the King: Delusions of Grandeur from Jim Morrison to Gangsta Rap
    •Jim Morrison•Sex Pistols•Guns N'Roses•Nick Cave•Lou Reed•Jane's Addiction•Eldridge Cleaver•LL Cool J•Miles Davis•Sly Stone•Gansta Rap•
  • 9 My Way: The Cult of the Psychopath
    •The White Negro•Jim Morrison•Charles Manson•Sid Vicious•Big Black•Slacker•Apocalypse Culture•

part 2: into the mystic

  • 1 From Rebellion to Grace: The Psychedelic Mother's Boy
  • 2 Back to Eden: Innocence, Indolence and Pastoralism
    •Mod•Marc Bolan•Incredible String Band•The Byrds•West Coast Psychedelia•Van Morrison•Pink Floyd•Dreampop•Rave•Ambient House•The Orb•Dub Reggae•Ultramarine•
  • 3 Starsailing: Cosmic Rock
    •John Cage•John Coltrane•The Byrds•Jimi Hendrix•Tim Buckley•Pink Floyd•
  • 4 Flow Motion: Can, Eno and Oceanic Rock
    •Can•Brian Eno•Robert Wyatt•Miles Davis•A.R. Kane•
  • 5 Soft Boys: Nostalgia, Incest and Zen Apathy
    •Jimi Hendrix•Morrissey•John Lennon•Elvis•My Bloody Valentine•

part 3: lift up your skirt and speak

  • 1 Double Allegiances: The Herstory of Rock
  • 2 One of the Boys: Female Machisma
    •Patti Smith•Chrissie Hynde•Kate Bush•PJ Harvey•Suzi Quatro•Joan Jett•Heart•Kim Gordon•L7•
  • 3 Open Your Heart: Confession and Catharsis from Janis Joplin to Courtney Love
    •Sinead O'Connor•Suzanne Vega•Joni Mitchell•Liz Phair•Lydia Lunch•Babes in Toyland•Tori Amos•Janis Joplin•Bessie Smith•
  • 4 Woman Unbound: Hysterics, Witches and Mystics
    •Lydia Lunch•Diamanda Galas•Stevie Nicks•Kate Bush•Siouxsie•Sandy Denny•Cocteau Twins•
  • 5 Who's That Girl?: Masquerade and Mastery
    •X-Ray Spex•Siouxsie•Grace Jones•Donna Summer•Annie Lennox•Joan Armatrading•Janet Jackson•Queen Latifah•Salt-n-Pepa•Grace Slick•Nico•
  • 6 Un-typical Girls: Post-Punk Demystification
    •The Slits•The Raincoats•The Au Pairs•Delta 5•Bush Tetras•
  • 7 What a Drag: Post-feminism and Pop
    •Altered Images•Madonna•Paris Is Burning
  • 8 There's a Riot Going On: Grrrls Against Boy-Rock
    •Riot Grrrl•Bikini Kill•Huggy Bear•
  • 9 Body's In Trouble
    •Mary Margaret O'Hara•Suzanne Vega•Hugo Largo•PJ Harvey•Throwing Muses•Babes In Toyland•Siouxsie•Hole•Lunachicks•
  • 10 Adventures Close to Home: Domesticity's Tender Trap
    •Kate Bush•Lunachicks•Throwing Muses•Siouxsie•Marianne Faithfull•The Slits•
  • 11 All Fluxed Up: Rebels Against Structure
    •Patti Smith•Joni Mitchell•Rickie Lee Jones•The Raincoats•Throwing Muses•Mary Margaret O'Hara•Dead Can Dance•Bjork•Diamanda Galas•Yoko Ono•
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Full title Words in Genesis [permalink]
Language English
Authors Isaac Asimov (author) and William Barss (illustrator)
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Categories History, religion and science
Publication year 1962
Pages 233
Synopsis

Asimov explains, as the book is titled, the words in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

Review

This is actually more than simply a list and explanation of the words used in Genesis. It goes into great detail into important verses in Genesis, explaining the history behind the verses as well as the etymologies of the words used (Asimov was Jewish by descent and spoke Yiddish, which helps). There are even appendices with maps of the relevant areas of the time, and genealogies of antediluvian (pre-Flood) and postdiluvian patriarchs.

Images Back flap of Words in Genesis.Back of Words in Genesis.Spine of Words in Genesis.Front of Words in Genesis.Front flap of Words in Genesis.
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Author's Note
  • Introduction — The Bible
  • 1 In the Beginning
  • 2 The Garden of Eden
  • 3 The Descendants of Adam
  • 4 The Flood
  • 5 Abraham
  • 6 Isaac
  • 7 Jacob
  • 8 Joseph
  • Appendices
  • Index

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