#BookReview: The Way Out by Peter Coleman

Conflicts as Advanced Mathematics and Theoretical Astrophysics. I gotta admit, as a more “hard” science / numbers guy, when I saw that Coleman’s solution here was based in the realms of advanced mathematics and theoretical astrophysics – gravity wells, complexity theory, etc – I was astonished to see someone put into words ideas I’d long thought of in conflicts in my own life. Though the way Coleman is much more systematic and systemic about them is simply phenomenal bordering on the profound. Yes, the man is an admitted progressive and yes, some of his throw away level comments are solidly from that perspective, but if you’re of a type who would normally throw a book down in disgust just over those points alone (or if you’re the type who would do those if he were an admitted conservative making similar comments)… you’re pretty well exactly who needs to read this book anyway. 😉 Pretty spectacular, and a *needed* read pretty well right this second – I write this review at the beginning of US Presidential Inauguration Week 2021, nearly six full months before the book’s scheduled publication at the beginning of June. Something tells me the book will be at least as relevant as it currently is at that point, and you should absolutely read and strongly consider Coleman’s points as soon as you can. Very much recommended.

This review of The Way Out by Peter Coleman was originally written on January 17, 2021.

#BookReview: Light In The Darkness by Heino Falcke

Phenomenal Achievement, Well Written Story Of How It Happened. That may leave a bad aftertaste with its final section. 200 years ago, humanity didn’t even know black holes existed – nor did actual photography quite exist yet. Now, not only do many of us carry around highly detailed cameras in our pockets, but humanity – led, in this effort, by this very author – has now taken a picture of a black hole. Falcke does a remarkable job through the first three (of four) sections of this tale setting the stage for that ultimate day in April 2019 when his team held half a dozen press conferences simultaneously all over the world announcing what they had done. He also spends a bit of time in the third section discussing the fallout of that day through about a year ish later, as the COVID pandemic changed the way most of the world worked… but didn’t really change much for this already global team. The way Falcke builds the history of the achievements that led to his is nothing short of poetic, yet also very easy to follow along with for those of us *without* PhDs in advanced theoretical astrophysics, and is truly remarkable. Even when Falcke begins speaking of even more theoretical concepts such as Einstein-Rosenberg Bridges (aka “wormholes”) and Hawking Radiation, he grounds these concepts in the work that has already been done. Even when speaking of the intermingling of religion and science sporadically through much of the text, Falcke is still remarkably grounded. But then, in the final chapter or two, he goes off into more “Your Mileage May Vary” territory when he begins speaking directly of God in light of what is shown via black holes. And that is where the potentially bad aftertaste comes in. Had Falcke made the worldwide announcement truly the climax of the book, with an epilogue of the team’s post-2019 efforts, this could arguably have been a bit tighter and less potentially controversial. Still, a very well written tale about one of the most monumental human achievements of my own (mid 1980s-forward) lifetime, and thus very much recommended.

This review of Light In The Darkness by Heino Falcke was originally written on January 4, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Meteorite by Tim Gregory

This week we’re looking at a science book that turns out to be both poetic and a page turner. This week, we’re looking at Meteorite by Tim Gregory.

I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime, and over the last couple of years in particular. I’ve read light and airy books. I’ve read dense academic tomes. I’ve read even more dense philosophical treatises. But I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a book quite like this one, where the author not only truly knows his stuff, but presents it so understandably and even poetically. Here, in this book ostensibly about space rocks, Gregory manages to inform the reader of the basis of all of astrophysics and how astrophysics lead to chemistry – both organic and inorganic – as we know it. Indeed, echoing a comment I made below in the Goodreads review because it is that astounding, I learned more about chemistry from reading this book than I ever did in my high school chemistry class. (Though in my high school’s defense – to a degree – I did a weird one semester “combined” chemistry and physics class and got the credit for both.)

This was simply an excellent book all around, and a great one to read if you’re leery about science books but at least willing to *try* them. Gregory will treat you well here, and you’ll learn a lot to boot. 🙂

As always, the Goodreads review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Meteorite by Tim Gregory”

#BookReview: The Janus Point by Julian Barbour

Intriguing Theoretical Astrophysics. If it wasn’t clear from the description of this book, this book is *all about* theoretical astrophysics and the author’s new theory of the origins and nature of time. If words like Newtonian and General Relativity and Leibniz and thermodynamics are part of your every day lexicon, you’ll probably enjoy reading this. For the rest of us… at least there isn’t much math involved in the actual text here? Specifically of the Calculus variety, which gives even many math-oriented people the heebie jeebies? Truly an intriguing work, but I’ll be the first to say that I didn’t fully follow or comprehend all of it – it is simply that high level. Even though Barbour tries to use narrative examples and structures designed to allow most anyone to have some idea of what is going on, at the end of the day this is still advanced theoretical astrophysics, of the kind that even Stephen Hawking wrestled with. While others more learned in the actual science may find fault here, for what it is I could find none. Very much recommended.

This review of The Janus Point by Julian Barbour was originally written on August 19, 2020.