In what must be a record for me, I finished Robert Sawyer’s Hominids in around three hours this weekend; that’s about 30 seconds per page. I don’t normally read that quickly, but Hominids was a particularly easy read and had several sections on the science of DNA and quantum physics, both of which I am reasonably familiar with. Familiar enough to speed-read those sections, at least.

Anyway, it was a good book and I imagine the other books in the trilogy will be equally enjoyable.

Until I read Quicksilver, I never really had that much interest in the history of science. It’s a testament to Stephenson’s skill as an author that I’m quite eager to find out more. John Gribbin’s Science: A History can’t touch Quicksilver (perhaps because it’s not fiction, but that’s not just it) but it’s still an interesting read. I’m about a third of the way through the book, which is arranged chronologically (Newton, as usual, is currently centre stage), and it’s steadily improving.

I was a little irritated at Gribbin continually stressing that basically all scientists are replaceable; that if, say, Newton or Galileo never lived, someone else would have made their discoveries a few years or at most decades later anyway. It’s a perfectly valid and thought-provoking point, but I didn’t need to be told it a dozen times in the first two chapters. Plus, Gribbin’s fondness for parentheses even exceeds my own, which is quite amazing, and somewhat annoying.

Aside from that, it’s a good book and it certainly qualifies him to be the author of the upcoming The Science of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”, which promises to be a much better effort that the equivalent Harry Potter book, partly because there is some seriously interesting science in HDM, such as entangled particles.

4 Replies to “Books”

  1. I’m also reading the Gribbin at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it. Also, Roy Porter’s _Enlightenment_ is good on wider aspects of British culture during the period covered by _Quicksilver_ (although its focus is really a little later in time).

    For some reason, I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy a signed hardback of _Q_ over the weekend. This surprises me greatly.

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