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Science Books

September 21, 2006

Stars, Stones and Scholars: The Decipherment of the Megaliths as an Ancient Survey of the Earth by Astronomy
Andis Kaulins (2006)
ISBN: 1412013445

"I am not so impressed by what we know, but by what we do not know," says Stars, Stones and Scholars author Andis Kaulins. And according to Kaulins, there is plenty about our knowledge of the universe that falls into the latter category. And so begins a riveting account on ancient civilizations and the techniques they employed to measure and observe the universe, and the knowledge that they gained through such processes. Kaulins, whose 35-plus years in academia have made him skeptical of institutional knowledge, spends his time studying the vast discipline of prehistory and deciphering the ways in which ancient man communicated through pictures and sculpture. Described as one of the best in his field, Kaulins once analyzed ancient Mishnayot sources in an attempt to discover the location of the Ark of the Covenant, which he said could be found in the Valley of Kings in: "a desolate valley under a hill - on its east side, forty stones deep". In Stars, Stones and Scholars, however, Kaulins specifically focuses on megaliths - those mysterious standing stones that have captured our imaginations for centuries. Kaulins explains how Neolithic (or New Stone Age) man carved and sculpted massive pieces of stone in an attempt to accurately represent the stars and constellations that they saw. Kaulins covers megalithic sites that include the United Kingdom's Stonehenge, Paviland and Clava Cairns; Germany's Externsteins; the USA's Miami Circle, and civilizations that inhabited Central and South America during the Neolithic period. Stars, Stones and Scholars is a title to really get your imaginative juices flowing, and Kaulins' intelligent and skeptical appraisal of current knowledge regarding Neolithic man is a real treat.

Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory
Edward J. Larson (2006)
ISBN: 0812968492

Edward J. Larson, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, has written a brilliant account of the evolution of... er, evolution. Larson's dense and fascinating history of Darwin's "dangerous idea" also demonstrates how individuals are so often erroneously awarded the title of sole originator of a particular scientific discovery, or "Eureka! Moment." Questions regarding the origin of life have always held a preeminent position in the disciplines of religion, philosophy and science, but it wasn't until the advent of modern science that some of the mysteries of life could be revealed. Unfortunately, it turned out that providing scientific answers regarding the weightier questions of life was not what people wanted to hear after all, and Darwin and Wallace's findings on natural selection were instantly branded controversial. Larson follows the trajectory of Darwin's initial theory and its antecedents to later advocates and contributors to the theory of evolution, including Watson and Crick, Lamarck, Haeckel, Galton, Huxley, Mendel, Morgan, Fisher, W. D. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson and a host of others. But despite this long list of notable and esteemed scientists and the recent success in neo-Darwinian theory, there is still a vast majority of the public who do not subscribe to the theory. As Larson has uncovered in previous publications, many deem evolutionary theory a threat to social values and religion, and it is therefore considered either a partially or entirely flawed science. A fact reflected in statistics showing that 90 percent of Americans do not regard Darwinian evolution to be a credible explanation for life on Earth. And on that note, one can only hope that this excellent book will make some headway in remedying that situation.

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