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Old 01-31-2010, 01:19 PM   #61
kennyc
The Dank Side of the Moon
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Great series, I've just been catching it on IPlayer.

I d...
"Not Available in Your Area"

Geographic restrictions strike again!
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:34 PM   #62
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"Not Available in Your Area"

Geographic restrictions strike again!
It's slightly more understandable being the BBC which requires a paid TV license to watch in the UK since it's advert-free but yeah geographical restrictions suck.
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:58 PM   #63
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The Immense Journey by Loren Eiseley.

Just picked it up to re-read a bit.....he was an amazing writer. Able to trigger that "sense of wonder" for almost any scientific topic.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:44 AM   #64
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I like to read physics and some of my favorites are Hyperspace from Michio Kaku, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos both from Brian Greene.
For those more inclined to biology On the Origin of Species is surprisingly easy to read.
Thanks again. I just ran across "Fabric ..." at amazon and will likely read it soon. I seem to be moving back into science/non-fiction reading/writing at the moment.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:55 AM   #65
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....
The Trouble with Physics - Lee Smolin
...
What did you think of this book?

I'm tempted to buy it along with "Fabric of the Universe"

Maybe they would cancel each other out in a massive explosion!
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:49 AM   #66
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The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan.

I think everyone should have to read this book. By that I mean everyone on the planet should be forced to read this book. If only there were ebook editions of this book...
Seconded.
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:15 PM   #67
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Thanks for the recommendations. I picked up Hidden Empire: Book 1 of the Saga of 7 Suns.

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Old 02-05-2010, 10:09 PM   #68
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What did you think of this book?

I'm tempted to buy it along with "Fabric of the Universe"

Maybe they would cancel each other out in a massive explosion!
It's really funny that you put those two together. I bought "The Trouble with Physics" first, got part way through it and decided I needed more info on string theory first (Smolin is not in favour of the current direction of theoretical physics). So I went out and bought Greene's "The Elegant Universe". My house is still standing.

I just started back into Smolin's book. From the chapter titles it appears to get rather philosophical towards the end. So, by all means, get both. I can guarantee no ka-booms.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:16 PM   #69
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Unsolved mysteries of science
This is a book in currently reading... heck, I'll post my review in Amazon (I finished it a second ago):
This book is just not about what science is struggling with right now. Every chapter starts with a rather comprehensive introduction on each of the subjects this book deals with like black holes, language, evolution, etc. This gives a good background to understand how the current theory or theories evolved and why they are not complete. It also makes you an informed individual of the XXI century.

Although it dates from the year 2001, after reading this book your knowledge of science will be quite up to date, at least from the layman's perspective. Just a few days ago I've stumbled upon two articles that showed me how the controversies depicted in this book are quite alive and kicking. "The interpreter" (The New Yorker magazine) is a perfect continuation to the "How do we learn language?" chapter, where Chomskyian rather-unchallenged-until-recently theories are covered.
"Horizontal and Vertical: the evolution of evolution," an article published in the New Scientist a week ago, discusses the recent evidence for horizontal gene transfer. This theory is part of the second chapter.

Another reviewer says it's a rather symplistic book, with which I completely disagree. I might be so if you read scientific magazines every day, but for me (an electronics engineer) it was an entertaining way to learn about several different fields of science. Although I have to concede that you won't receive a Ph.D. after finishing this book.
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:42 AM   #70
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It's really funny that you put those two together. I bought "The Trouble with Physics" first, got part way through it and decided I needed more info on string theory first (Smolin is not in favour of the current direction of theoretical physics). So I went out and bought Greene's "The Elegant Universe". My house is still standing.

I just started back into Smolin's book. From the chapter titles it appears to get rather philosophical towards the end. So, by all means, get both. I can guarantee no ka-booms.
Well I bought them both (separately!) from Amazon last night. Unfortunately the Smolin's book was in the Topaz format which I had not check on before purchasing. Kinda pissed me off, but I was able to liberate it and convert it to an epub without any major issues (other than a few niggly format things).

And no matter-anti matter explosions or anything.

Thanks for the info/review.
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:34 AM   #71
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Whoops, sorry Kenny, my fault. I have the three books I mentioned in paper copies only. I took a quick look to see if they were available in ebook form, saw that they were and did not check the formats.
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:15 AM   #72
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Not your fault at all Mike. I was just bugged that I hadn't noticed it was topaz format. fortunately I went through that liberation process as the scripts were being worked out and was able to convert it well enough to read on my Sony.

I did get Carl Sagan's - "The Demon-Haunted World" in used paper-back form in the mail yesterday and have read the first couple of chapters. I'm loving it!

But in addition, I'm kinda concerned about a potential explosion in my brain as I'm reading The Demon-Haunted world and am a few chapters in to "The Evolution of God"....

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Old 02-07-2010, 09:34 AM   #73
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But in addition, I'm kinda concerned about a potential explosion in my brain as I'm reading The Demon-Haunted world and am a few chapters in to "The Evolution of God"....
Reading is supposed to expand your mind! Explosions are just violent expansions, right?
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:46 AM   #74
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Reading is supposed to expand your mind! Explosions are just violent expansions, right?

Ah... good point!
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:53 PM   #75
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added to my amazon wish list. Be sure to give us you review when you finish.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan, ed. by Ann Druyan is from a series of lectures Sagan gave at the 1985 Gifford Lectures in Natural Theology at the University of Glasgow entitled “The Search For Who We Are.” It was edited by his widow, Ann Druyan, and published posthumously.

The following is a small portion of the more extensive definition of Natural Theology as found on the website http://www.giffordlectures.org/:

“Traditionally natural theology is the term used for the attempt to prove the existence of God and divine purpose through observation of nature and the use of human reason. Seen in a more positive light natural theology is the part of theology that does not depend on revelation.”

Sagan defined natural theology as that which “has long been understood to mean theological knowledge that can be established by reason and experience and experiment alone.”

In this series of lectures, Sagan takes the reader on a journey through time and space, as he lends his voice to this great debate.

This book examines the claims of the Shroud of Turin, the evidence for UFOs, imagines how society would react to a first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, confronts the traditional “Proofs” of God’s existence, and so much more. Sagan delivers lessons in scientific history. He reminds us that Aristotle was more concerned with unmoved prime movers than an unmoved prime mover. He answers the question of why we have ten fingers, and why “if we evolved from a Devonian fish that had twelve phalanges, then we’d all be doing base-twelve arithmetic.”

Sagan was skeptical of religious claims, but never claimed to know that God doesn’t exist, reminding us that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Neither is it evidence of presence.” Yet Carl Sagan was no stranger the feeling of reverential awe. He found it in contemplating the workings, big and small, of the Cosmos in which we live, move, and have our being. And one his talents was his ability to communicate that sense of wonder to a wide audience. A sense of child-like wonder seemed to permeate his entire life which he was willing to share.

The book is filled with interesting word-visuals. Consider this virtual picture to help us understand our place in the chain of life:

“Suppose your father or mother—let’s say father for the sake of definiteness—walked into this room at the ordinary human pace of walking. And suppose just behind him was his father. And just behind him was his father. How long would we have to wait before the ancestor who enters the now-open door is a creature who normally walked on all fours? The answer is a week.”

Here are some quick quotes from the book:

The idea that the scientific method should be applied to the deepest of questions is frequently decried as “scientism.” This charge is made by those who hold that religious beliefs should be off-limits to scientific scrutiny—that beliefs (convictions without evidence that can be tested) are a sufficient way of knowing. Carl understood this feeling, but he insisted with Bertrand Russell that “what is wanted is not the will to believe, but the desire to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

— Ann Druyan defending her husband against the charge of scientism.

<><><>

And what exactly is superstition? Is it just, as some have said, other people’s religion? Or is there some standard by which we can detect what constitutes superstition? For me, I would say that superstition is marked not by its pretension to a body of knowledge but by its method of seeking truth. And I would like to suggest that superstition is very simple: It is merely belief without evidence.

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

The universe is mainly made of nothing, that something is the exception. Nothing is the rule.

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

And anyone [extraterrestrial], therefore, whom we hear from is likely to be ahead of us, because if they’re even a little bit behind us, they can’t communicate at all.

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

Arthur Clarke has said that Christian orthodoxy is too narrow and timid for what is likely to be found in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He has said that the doctrine of man made in the image of God is ticking like a time bomb at Christianity’s base, set to explode if other intelligent creatures are discovered. [Note: Sagan says he did not “in the least agree” with A.C. Clarke on this point.]

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

I certainly could not exclude the possibility that the Earth is now or once was visited. But precisely because the stakes in the answer are high, precisely because this is an issue that engages powerful emotions, we would in this case demand only the most scrupulous standards of evidence.

Fundamentally, what von Däniken has done is to sell our ancestors short, to assume that people who lived a few thousand years ago or even a few hundred years ago were simply too stupid to figure anything out, certainly to work together for a long period of time to construct something of monumental dimensions.

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

In fact, there is the remark that is sometimes made about Buddhism, I think in a kindly light, that their god is so great he doesn’t even have to exist. And that is the perfect counterpoise to the ontological argument.

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

And therefore it involves a change from the usual course of nature, which was described very nicely by Ivan Turgenev as follows: “Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: ‘Great God, grant that twice two be not four.’”

— Carl Sagan

<><><>

Ultimate for us—I want to stress that we’re not talking about the elimination of all life on Earth. Doubtless roaches and grass and sulfur-metabolizing worms that live in hot vents in the ocean bottoms would survive nuclear war. It is not the Earth that is at stake, it is not life on Earth that’s at stake, it is merely us and all we stand for that is at stake.

— Carl Sagan [Note: This is the same point made humorously by the late George Carlin.]

<><><>

Verdict:

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 02-07-2010 at 05:22 PM. Reason: Add Sagan's definition of Natural Theology
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