Picks

False Promise

Computers play an increasing role in the life of children (along with everyone else). How much is too much? More and more educators, physicians, and child development professionals are beginning to recognize that time in front of CRT (whether on a computer or a TV) is time that is not spent in interaction with the real world.

The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer

I have to admit that I haven't finished reading this book. With over six hundred, large-format pages and relatively small type, it would probably not have made "Hal's Picks" until next year if I had waited until I had completed it. However, it is entirely possible to dip in for a chapter here and a chapter there.

The Book on the Bookshelf

Henry Petroski, Professor of Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University, is a master at "humanizing" engineering by writing about the history and development of familiar objects such as paperclips and pencils. He seems to relish the challenges involved in writing engagingly to non-engineers about some of the most mundane objects in everyday life - things that we take for granted.

High Stakes are for Tomatoes

We all, and both candidates for President, agree that that our educational systems need to adhere to the highest standards of excellence, that "social promotion" in schools is a bad thing, that students should have to demonstrate basic competences before they receive high school diplomas, and that schools, teachers, and students ought to be rewarded or punished on the basis of judgements render

Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America

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.

Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution

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.

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

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.

A Fresh Look at Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

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.