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Science Books

November 23, 2006

The Scientist As Rebel
Freeman Dyson (2006)
ISBN: 1590172167

Science is a wild and untamed thing, according to celebrated physicist Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. In its most pure and honest form, science does not bend to tradition, authority or social trends, but should instead be guided by reason and the imagination. Dyson, author of Disturbing the Universe and Origins of Life, articulates his point cogently by considering the methods used by historical and contemporary scientists to attain novel insights about the nature of reality. Scientist As Rebel is broken into four parts, with the first section considering recent scientific discoveries in everything from cosmology to nanotechnology. The second part discusses the connections between science and war, while the third section is concerned with the history of science and the last with analysis of essays from some of history's greatest scientific minds. Considering Dyson's standing as a physicist of note, the last section of Scientist As Rebel may come as somewhat of a surprise to many not familiar with his more personal philosophies. In this chapter, Dyson, himself a man of faith and winner of the Templeton Prize, considers the nature of science and its difference to religion, and on a much deeper level the relation between science and humanity. In his latest book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins says that Dyson's acceptance of the Templeton Prize is "an endorsement of religion by one of the world's most distinguished physicists." But Dyson is not averse to seeking out the mystifying and ephemeral, stating that paranormal phenomena may be real, but presently beyond the grasp of science. These are certainly bold ideas, and Dyson may have constructed the first three chapters on rebellious scientific thought to lend weight to this last contentious chapter. Only time will tell whether this rebellious physicist is correct.

Postcards From Mars: The First Photographer On The Red Planet
Jim Bell (2006)
ISBN: 0525949852

The moon has always captured the imaginations of people throughout history, and when the first images were transmitted back from it we gazed in awe at its alien, pockmarked surface. Now, advances in space technology have allowed cosmologists to capture images of a planet that has entranced us throughout the ages - Mars. In 2004, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers touched down on Mars and have now beamed back over 150,000 fantastic images. These images have only previously been available for viewing on PCs in low-resolution. But now Professor Jim Bell, the director of photography during the rover missions, has edited and compiled an impressive pictorial showcase of these images of the Martian surface. Even Dr. Buzz Aldrin, one of the astronauts who took part in the first manned mission to land on the moon, says that Postcards From Mars: "allows all of us to set foot on another planet." Bell's spectacular pictorial account follows the journey of the Mars rovers from launch to landing to their various exploratory missions. Postcards From Mars contains over 150 exquisite, finely detailed, full-color-process photographs, with four foldout images that extend to over three feet in width for a truly panoramic experience of the Martian landscape.

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