Category Archives: Science

English Verb Classes and Alternations: A Preliminary Investigation by Beth Levin

This book explores 3,000 English verbs and how they act in sentences. They are grouped into categories that have the same properties. This defines how they are used by native speakers. This book is designed as a reference for linguists, and it absolutely allows them to understand the verbs and consider the properties that are relevant to designate use.

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Filed under Linguistics, Nonfiction, Science

Mad Science: Einstein’s Fridge, Dewar’s Flask, Mach’s Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries that Made our World edited by Randy Alfred

Wired Magazine has a column called This Day in Tech. This book is a collection from these that covers all 366 days of the year. In these nice short one- to two- page synopses of important tech events were fun and informative. The best part is that they don’t require any significant science knowledge to be able to learn from them. I had lots of fun reading these!

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Filed under Computer Science, Nonfiction, Science

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

In 2010 BBC asked the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to choose 100 objects in the Museum’s collection to illustrate the entire history of humanity. These were presented in groups of five objects per week on BBC Radio, with a theme for each week. This book compiles these presentations and edits them down into book form. The first objects are simple hand axes and he then works through monies, statues, pottery and more all the way to the solar-powered lamp of 2010. I had expected the objects to be woven together to create a complete picture, and this was a bit lacking. In addition, there were certain archeological sites that were clearly favored (possibly due to the large number of objects from these locations/civilizations found in the Museum’s collection). Overall, the book gave a good overview of the history of the world, excellent for those with little background.

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Filed under Archeology/Anthropology, History, Nonfiction, Science

Einstein’s Genius Club by Burton Feldman

Einstein, Russell, Gödel and Pauli met weekly at Einstein’s house in Princeton during the winter of 1943-44. There they talked about a variety of topics. Using this as the start of a discussion of the history of science and math, Feldman manages to cover much of the science conducted during the first half of the 20th Century. Although this gives only a broad overview, it is quite interesting to see what a small world the scientific community is, and how they interacted through two world wars and their own personal arguments. Although I would not recommend this to someone who has a lot of scientific knowledge, it is a great chance for non-scientists to explore the topic of quantum mechanics.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Physics, Science

Brains: How They Seem to Work by Dale Purves

This book is part autobiography part recap of where neuroscience came from and where it is now. Mr. Purves happened to start university around the time that neuroscience was gaining ground, and he knew many of the top players in this field. Starting with the low-level “how neurons work” all the way through modern guesses at the overarching process of the brain, he allows the reader to understand the field and its major players without having to have knowledge beforehand. In addition to this chance to learn about the brain, this book also gives us a truly enjoyable story with helpful illustrations.

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Filed under Biography, Biology, Neuroscience, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science

Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts and Findings by Charles Kadushin

This book details the major areas of the field of social networks and what has already been found, as well as where the field is going. It starts with an introduction and some study of networks, so it is not necessary to have background going in. It then covers the major aspects of social networks, like formal and informal hierarchies and how things (like information and disease) travel through the networks. Since the chapters (except the first few on general network theory) are fairly self-contained, this is an opportunity for the reader to focus only on the topics of interest. The best part is the Coda that covers the 10 master ideas of social networks (which were covered in more detail in the body chapters). Although this book is intended for a general reader, it requires an interest in the topic going in to make it through some of the boring bits.

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Filed under Computer Science, Nonfiction, Science

The Psychology of Music second edition edited by Diana Deutsch

This book is a comprehensive introduction to the field of music psychology. It’s also designed so that you read only the chapters that have topics you are most interested in (for example, neural networks). This book is absolutely a must-read if you are in the field or trying to enter it, or are extremely interested in the topic. If you want some light reading that gives an introduction, this is not it. All of the chapters are written by top individuals in the field and they are all very scientific. This is a bit like reading many scientific papers on a topic, so it can be exhausting.

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Filed under Music, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science