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Book Review:
Copyright © 1998 by R.J. Fear (rjfear @
SETI League North Central US Regional Coordinator

Infinite in all Directions
by Freeman Dyson

An interesting walk through the philosophy of Freeman Dyson. Covering life as a scientific phenomenon followed by ethics and politics. Some interesting observations but very little (okay, no) data to speak of. (I want to have lunch with this guy. There's more to Freeman Dyson than meets the eye.)

Astronomy and Cosmology
by Fred Hoyle

An obviously dated piece of material (copyright 1975) but a very well organized work. Summary level coverage of many aspects of astronomy and cosmology. A little light in the mathematics for me but not a bad place to start. A guess would be that this book was intended as an entry level astronomy and/or cosmology text book.

by Sir Bernard Lovell

Most certainly a must read. For anyone considering the construction of even a small radio telescope I urge you to read this and read it carefully. The book chronicles the design and building of the dish at Jodrell Bank. It includes the effects it had on its designer, its builder, the press, and the surrounding communities. I've never been much for books written from diaries but this one was worth it.

Home Is Where the Wind Blows
by Fred Hoyle

I should have known from the title that this was, for me, a mistake. The book follows the title and pretty much goes where the wind blows. It is largely an account of Fred's travels and experiences. It contains no real data to speak of. Only in Marion Indiana would this book be placed in the reference section of Astronomy.

Uncertainty - The Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg
by David C. Cassidy

I have nothing but admiration for Heisenberg's mind, but they went too far in the title of this book. It would have been correctly labeled "The Life of Werner Heisenberg" due to its lack of scientific subject matter. 30 odd pages of quantum mechanics out of over 500. I'm on the fence on this one. If you enjoy biographies go for it. If you're primary focus is mathematics and/or quantum mechanics you may want to skip it.

Pale Blue Dot
by Carl Sagan

I know I'm probably asking for it even commenting on this book but here goes. I don't think I've ever read a book that talked so much and said so little. I enjoy Sagan's style (a little sappy at times) and it's obvious from the book's content that he was (and still is) one of the greatest minds in science. But I'm of the impression that this book was written not for science but as a public relations push for science, exploration, and political change. I'm not sorry I read it, just sorry I didn't manage my expectation of it.

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