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Things to read [message #595945] Mon, 16 September 2013 08:24 Go to next message
John Watson
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I enjoy reading popular science books (just finished another Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design; could do with a bit more mathematics, I thought) but I also love techno-thrillers. People like Kim Stanley Robinson (the Mars trilogy of course, and Antarctica is pretty good); Neal Stephenson (I really enjoyed Cryptonomicon, found the others heavy going); or even cyberpunks like Walter Jon Williams (Hardwired) or William Gibson (Neuromancer). Dan Brown ain't bad, though when it comes to the scientific parts of his novels, the least said the better.
I wondered if anyone could recommend any others. The ideal novel for me has a good dose of science or maths, but isn't pure science fiction. Any suggestions?
Re: Things to read [message #595950 is a reply to message #595945] Mon, 16 September 2013 09:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mahesh Rajendran
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Andromeda Strain.
Around 20 years ago, it was an overdose of Biochemistry for me Smile.

Re: Things to read [message #595959 is a reply to message #595950] Mon, 16 September 2013 11:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ThomasG
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I read two booky by Richard Feynman lately.
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?"

The first is a little funnier, but the second one a little more interesting from a technical point of view. Some interesting inside views of the Manhattan Project and the Challenger inquiry, interspersed with pretty funny anecdotes.
Re: Things to read [message #595983 is a reply to message #595945] Mon, 16 September 2013 15:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lalit Kumar B
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How about artificial intelligence techno-thriller novel? Kill Decision by author Daniel Suarez. I am trying to finish it since 3 months Laughing
Re: Things to read [message #596012 is a reply to message #595945] Tue, 17 September 2013 06:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
John Watson
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Thank you for the suggestions. I have had read one or two Michael Crichtons, many years ago, but not The Andromeda Strain. Daniel Suarez is new to me, but I see that my local library does have a copies of his first two (though not the one you mention, Lalit) so I'll give him a try, Feynman too.
I would be interested to read Feynmans account of the Challenger enquiry. I was working as a support team leader at the ESA Space Operations Centre when the first Ariane 5 launch exploded, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluster_%28spacecraft%29 It wasn't my fault: my group was responsible for some of the computers in the control rooms for the Cluster Mission, which of course were never even used. It would be interesting to see if the Challenger disaster was caused by similar levels of built-in cautious idiocy. Actually, I suspected that the Cluster Mission was always doomed to fail at that time: I don't think the software for the flight control was good enough, and the four year delay before relaunch was probably rather useful.
Re: Things to read [message #596018 is a reply to message #596012] Tue, 17 September 2013 07:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lalit Kumar B
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> Four year delay before the relaunch

Ample time to make a documentry/small film just like the October sky Smile The wiki link says it was "Tuesday, 4 June 1996", so the film would be June sky
Re: Things to read [message #596091 is a reply to message #596018] Tue, 17 September 2013 23:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
rleishman
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James Halperin wrote two such books: The Truth Machine and The First Immortal.

Both are speculative about our immediate technological future and cover periods of 50-100+ years. They were written in 1996-7, so much of the speculative future can be mapped to reality. Unfortunately, a lot of it is wildly inaccuate and therefore distracting. Even so, both are very enjoyable and fairly scientific in the fields of technology and medicine. TTM ie easily the better of the two.

Neal Stephenson is IMO the undisputed of the master of the genre. Cryptonomicon is the most fun to read. Snow Crash - written in 1992 - is a fairly easy read and contains some amazingly precise predictions about the internet which make it more interesting to read today. Diamond Age is a bit harder going, mainly because it is far more speculative about a far distant future.

The Baroque Cycle trilogy are easily the most rewarding read, but unlike the above they look back in time rather than forward. These three books are my favourites regardless of author or genre.

Anathem is really hard going. As soon as I finished it I turned back to page 1 and started again to pick up the stuff I missed. Rewarding, but not what you'd call a page-turner.

My favourite pop-science books:
- Longitude by Dava Sobel - Pop Biography of John Harrison, inventor of the precision chonometer
- The Code Book by Simon Singh, history of crytography and code breaking
- Fermat's Last Thoerem by Simon Singh, history of the many failed attempts on FLT and Andrew Wiley's ultimately successful proof
- The Music of the Primes by Marcus du Sautoy, history of attempts to prove the Reimann Hypothesis
- The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester, pop biography of William Smith and the birth of modern geology
- Crypto by Steven Levy, history of public key cryptography
Re: Things to read [message #605281 is a reply to message #596091] Wed, 08 January 2014 06:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
John Watson
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Registered: January 2010
Location: Global Village
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Following these suggestions, I've just finished Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez. Good stuff! The science is on a level with Dan Brown but it keeps the pages turning. I read another Stephenson, The Cobweb. I don't think it counts as the Real Thing, but I can't face The Baroque Cycle: it is just too intimidating. When I see Snow Crash in the library, I'll try it. And I've read some Richard Feynman. Feynman is both enjoyable and edifying. However, he is far more intelligent and knowledgeable than me. This is continuously made obvious. He doesn't do it deliberately but sometimes it makes one feel a bit pathetic.
I read Dawkins' The God Delusion over Christmas. Pretty well argued, but I would say flogging a dead horse (so a bit boring). I think the most interesting Dawkins I have read is The Blind Watchmaker.
Now I'm going to read some real rubbish (the latest Lee Child, a Xmas present) before trying some more pop science.

If anyone comes across anything good in these genres, please let me know. And I'll keep working through previous suggestions.
Re: Things to read [message #605322 is a reply to message #605281] Wed, 08 January 2014 13:35 Go to previous message
Lalit Kumar B
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John Watson wrote on Wed, 08 January 2014 18:28
Following these suggestions, I've just finished Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez.


I feel so jealous now ./fa/596/0/. When I suggested you books by Daniel Suarez, I was then reading Kill Decision by author Daniel Suarez, and I am yet to finish it.

Man you are so quick to finish Daemon and Freedom ./fa/1578/0/
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