SCIENCE NEWS BOOKS.
Beyond Star Trek: From Alien Invasions to the End of Time--Lawrence M. Krauss. In this follow-up to his successful book The Physics of Star Trek, Krauss uses the television show The X Files and the movie Independence Day, among others, to illustrate cosmological conundrums. For example, aliens like those in Independence Day would probably have arrived on Earth only to find it devastated by weather brought about by the gravitational effects of their spaceships. The basics of quantum mechanics, advances in warp-drive systems, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life are also deftly considered. Originally published in hardcover in 1997. HarpPL, 1998, 190 p., paperback, $12.00.
Doubt and Certainty: The Celebrated Academy Debates on Science, Mysticism, Reality in General on the Knowable and Unknowable, with Particular Forays Into Such Esoteric Matters as the Mind Fluid, the Behavior of the Stock Market, and the Disposition of a Quantum Mechanical Sphinx, to Name a Few--Tony Rothman and George Sudarshan. The subtitle certainly conveys the text's gist, but readers may be interested to know that these witty authors are physicists. Their Western and Eastern philosophies flavor these dialogues concerning issues in modern physics and the clashing or meshing of New .Age ideals. In what they describe as a "cross between Plato's Republic and the 1001 Nights," Rothman and Sudarshan reinvent Plato's academy, melding their thoughts with those of their ancestors and contemporaries. Each section is prefaced by background on its subject and is concluded with a puzzle or exercise. Perseus, 1998, 320 p., hardcover, $25.00.
The Handy Geography Answer Book--Matthew T. Rosenberg. The Handy Physics Answer Book--P. Erik Gundersen. Fans of The Handy Science Answer Book and its progeny should find these two offshoots to be equally appealing methods of nourishing one's curiosity about the physical world. Not just a book about maps, the geography volume answers queries about climate, exploration, disasters, and individual continents, such as: What are the four climatic regions of the Andes, and what was the Ottoman Empire? A concluding section lists vital statistics for 192 countries. The physics book explores more than 800 fascinating aspects of physics, including sound, waves, fluids, thermodynamics, magnetism, and electricity. Readers discover the difference between center of mass and center of gravity, how a compass is made, and how objects maintain an orbit around Earth. Both books Visible Ink, 1999, 462 p./415 p., color plates/b&w illus., paperback, $19.95.
Magnitude 8: Earthquakes and Life Along the San Andreas Fault--Philip L. Fradkin. For nearly 20 years, Fradkin has lived within shouting distance of the point on the San Andreas Fault that moved 20 feet in 1906. His proximity to one of the most turbulent faults in the United States informs his discussion of the natural elements of earthquakes and the impact of this phenomenon on the cultural and daily lives of people who reside near faults. Fradkin blends these elements into his consideration of the outcome of a future magnitude 8 quake, the difficulty in predicting quakes, and the rationale of fault-dwellers. H Holt & Co, 1998, 336 p., hardcover, $27.50.
The Pattern on the Stone: The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work--Daniel Hillis. Using analogies befitting a child, Hillis tells how computers compute. He begins by imparting Boolean logic through a demonstration of a machine that plays tic-tac-toe. Then, he describes a universal construction set in terms of the shortcomings of Lego blocks. He goes on to aptly describe Turing machines, algorithms, heuristics, and encryption. Hillis gift is his ability to convey the logical processes of computers that begin with switches and circuitry and escalate to self-organizing learning ability relevant to parallel computing systems. Basic 1998, 164 p., illus., hardcover, $21.00.
Sutton Hoo: Burial Ground of Kings?--Martin Carver. On three separate occasions during the past 60 years, archaeologists unearthed mounds exhibiting unusual burial tactics in southeastern England. Dating to 600 A.D., these graves of medieval English aristocrats were swollen with not only human remains but also a bounty of artifacts. Some individuals were buried in their boats, others were entomed with their horses, art, and precious metals. Carver attended the last of these digs, and he recounts the content of the sites and the theories about them offered thus far. Penn, 1998, 195 p., color plates/b&w photos, hardcover, $29.95.
Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids--Timothy E. Wilens. A specialist in pediatric and adult psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital surveys the gamut of childhood mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions treated with medication. First explaining the conditions and their hallmark symptoms, Wilens then presents treatment options and facts about associated medications. Early chapters answer questions about the medicating process and its short-term and long-term effects on children. A guide to psychotropic medications concludes the book. Guilford, 1999, 279 p., paperback, $14.95.
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|Date:||Dec 5, 1998|
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