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Science Books

December 8, 2005

The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th-Century Science, Including the Original Papers
Alan Lightman (2005)
ISBN: 0375421688

Novelist and science writer Alan Lightman has managed to pack a century's worth of scientific breakthroughs into this one title. The publication of the original papers alone would be a little overwhelming for the non-scientist, but Lightman's accompanying erudite and scintillating essays are a window into each of the 20th-century's greatest scientific papers' magnitude, beauty and importance. Lightman believes that each pioneering scientific paper is in itself a brilliant work of art and therefore deserves to be viewed in its original form. This purity toward the original work is stressed because more often than not the original scientific paper is given less priority than it deserves. While we may still need clarification in regard to their intrinsic meaning, would there be any point in appreciating Michelangelo's sculptures or Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture through language alone? Lightman's stunning prose brings this incredible composition of scientific works to life by elevating each work above its functionary formulas to reveal a unique reasoning and style rarely acknowledged outside of literary circles. As you would expect of a novelist, Lightman digs deep and crosses the line between science and scientist to reveal the motivation, drive, rivalry, doubts and exhilaration behind every landmark discovery. In this respect, every innovative idea is couched in its own behind-the-scenes and often tumultuous passage to fruition. Lightman tells of the bewilderment in the wake of Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and then relates how Richard Feynman took Werner Heisenberg to task for having worked on a Nazi atom bomb. Whether Lightman is discussing Einstein or Henrietta Leavitt, quantum mechanics or genetics, The Discoveries is all at once an informative, thought provoking and gripping read.

Leo Laporte's 2006 Gadget Guide
Leo Laporte, Michael Miller (2005)
ISBN: 0789733951

If you look closely enough at a 007 movie you're sure to see a copy of Leo Laporte's Gadget Guide in M's bookshelf. Television and radio host Leo Laporte probably has one of the most enviable jobs around: road testing fantastic gadgets and gizmos. Together with co-author Michael Miller, author of more than 50 non-fiction books, Laporte has compiled the most comprehensive and up-to-date gadget guide available. Whether it's a spy-cam, satellite radio receiver, home theatre equipment, hovercraft or a Star Trek-like home communicator badge that you need, this is the guide for you. Leo Laporte's 2006 Gadget Guide is jam-packed full of specifications and hype-free recommendations to suit any techno-geek's budget. Leo understands that as little time as possible should stand between you and your gizmo, so the book has been broken down into easily referenced sections, such as "The Ultimate Gamer," "The Ultimate Portable Music Fan" or, for totally incurable geekophiles, "The Ultimate Gadget Geek." Within each of these categories, Laporte provides some background info on each gadget together with a heap of buying advice. From within each category, Leo then lists his own favorites organized by type. Every extra special something that has caught old Leo's doohickey seeking eye is added to what he calls "Leo's Pick," which he says are: "the absolute coolest gizmo of that type available today." Of course, anyone salivating over a particular item will want to know where they can buy it - pronto! Leo provides a list of major outlets, as well as other stores that sell some of the more wacky thingamabobs. So, arm yourself with a copy of Leo Laporte's 2006 Gadget Guide and never again leave yourself vulnerable to unscrupulous sales reps.

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