Some Americans believe that the history of the earth is about to end, and they have been making ultimate preparations. Alex Heard has gained the confidence of quite a variety of these sometimes amusing, sometimes pathetic, sometimes scary people and organizations.
I feel that I know Robert Park, who was director of the Washington Office of the American Physical Society when this book was published, because of his weekly "What's New" column [see http://www.bobpark.org/bob.html], even though we have never met.
This is the first time that something not printed on paper has been chosen for Hal's Picks, and it probably will not happen often in the future. This particular subject is, however, better treated in digital format than in a book (although several good books on Edgerton and his work are also available).
A year or so ago, I greatly enjoyed reading another book by Lisa Jardine, "Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance", but I couldn't justify it for "Hal's Picks" because it didn't have much scientific content. When I heard about "Ingenious Pursuits", I bought it from a book club and read it right away.
In 1963, Richard Feynmann gave three lectures at the University of Washington. This short book (only 133 pages) is a transcript of those talks. The lectures were not really physics, but were a very informal (virtually extemporaneous) view of what the results of modern physics means to everyman.
Lieb and Yngvason describe in this article how the concept of entropy can be explained without resorting to heat engines or statistical mechanics, and without even the a priori imposition of temperature.
For anyone who has tried unsuccessfully (like me) to find familiar stars in well-known constellations through a telescope, the competition that David Freedman describes sounds impossible. The "sport" is to see how many of the 110 celestial objects in the Messier catalog you can locate and identify during a single night of observation.
I'm not a big fan of science fiction. I find "real" science to be generally more interesting; the fictionalized kind usually requires me to pretend that the universe is far different than what I believe to be the case. In fiction, travel between planets (or even solar systems) is accomplished quite easily, by suspension of the speed limit imposed by relativity.
These authors address a few of the same questions as do Karukstis and Van Hecke, but they take aim at a somewhat more technically sophisticated audience; instead of trying to enhance chemical education near the introductory level, they are speaking to practicing chemists, some of whom may also be teachers.
Kerry Karukstis and Gerry Van Hecke teach undergraduate chemistry at Harvey Mudd College (my alma mater), and Gerry was a student there at the same time I was (sometime in the previous millennium). They have collaborated on a very useful and engaging supplementary book for introductory and organic chemistry.