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Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over The Edge Paperback – Sep 18 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 18 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201567512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201567519
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 13.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This is a great and funny book. Yesterday and today, there were articles on the web about Ted William's body at Alcor, having the head severed and both the head and body frozen. In this book's funniest chapter, titled, "Heads will roll". One of the book's characters takes his poor sick mother to Alcor, and they sever her head as she's about to die. The ensuing legal and criminal implications are a riot as they first start to attempt to get a death certificate to get her body buried. The coroner is highly suspicious that a body without a head, "died of pneumonia." Criminal charges and other problems erupt. Hard to believe that similar issues have surfaced again 12 years after this book first appeared. If you like science and seeing the amusing side of it, then you will enjoy this book.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of accounts of historical science is every bit as amusing as its title. Topics ranging from independant space travel and AI to cryonics and immortality have been breached in real science. This book is the only way you can hope to learn about them and stay awake. I loved this book!!
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Format: Paperback
Here's a thought: the problem with teaching non-fiction in schools is that as a culture we value story, even it its most cliched forms, over memorization. The great wave of edutainment hitting us now is trying to meet this need, merging story (the "Mario" adventure, in a nutshell, is a fairy tale in which it's man, or plumber as the case may be, vs. nature, albeit a very twisted view of nature, to rescue his true love) with facts. While the grooters are tied to the tube wonking on flying turtles, they have to solve puzzles that actually contain meaning.
Story and facts have been merged into one for years. There's some speculation that the Bible was preserved to retain warnings for behavior (food choices, ethics), while histories are basically the story of the past written by the winners. Today we get our non-fiction in a multitude of forms, but I have to admit that I prefer a well-done story version as in Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown and here in Ed Regis' take on wacky (but plausible) science.
Regis' idea on science goes something like this: there's always been science that people thought a little strange if not laughable (tiny living organisms that carry disease?), so what's the current wacky science, is it really plausible and why, and where's it heading. But he tells us this through the lives of the scientists (and I may be using that term loosely for some of these people). People like Eric Drexler (nanotechnology), Hans Moravec (downloading brains), Dave Criswell (stars for energy), and Michael Darwin (cryogenics). What they have in common with each other and such people as Robert Heinlein, Timothy Leary, Evil Knieval, and Richard Feynman illustrates the heady stuff of science on the edge. If at times it seems science fictional, then that's probably because SF writers make it their job to keep up with fringe elements such as these.
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Format: Paperback
Although not expertly written, Great Mambo Chicken elicits more active reading than the majority of popular science books on the market. For that reason, Regis's paean to today's "hubristic" scientists ranks among the top-decile of all books that I've read.
I agree with the other readers, however, that Regis's prose leaves something to be desired. The constant repetition of "hubrisitic" (I counted a total of 32 instances of the word) becomes bothersome and the reader may soon question the breadth of the writer's vocabulary.
But that said, the ideas contained in the book are superb and well intertwined. Regis is able to link the following disparate topics into a coherent whole (in order of presentation):
Cryonics, Nanotechnology, Privately Funded Rocket Missions, Extra-planetary Habitation, Transhumanism (the mental uploads and bush robots espoused by Moravec), etc.
I often found myself writing notes on the margins of the book coming up with a my own questions in reponse to the text. Regis's clear enthusiasm and his declaration of the impending Omega Point (the point of mankind's effective omiscience and omnipotence) will be hardy memes that infect the thoughts of many generations of scientists.
Paul Erdos
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By A Customer on June 16 2001
Format: Paperback
it was a nice transhumanist book. it made me more interested in extropy.
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By A Customer on June 16 2001
Format: Paperback
it was a nice transhumanist book. it made me more interested in extropy.
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By Vixengrl on June 12 2001
Format: Paperback
This book provides a fun look at the science of what *could* be, as well as a look at the occasionally eccentric people who don't just dream about the possibilities--they take'em on. While some of the ideas covered here are admittedly "out there", the presentation style, in my opinion, is sarcastic enough to show skepticism without being out-and-out judgemental, which I appreciated. Prepare to be surprised at what some folks are trying to do right now (er..."now" being when the book was written, so heaven only knows *what* they're up to as of 2001)--but I'd say this one is for the optimists, excited by, not afraid of, what the future will hold.
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Format: Paperback
....[Regis is] trying to say that science doesn't have to be stuffy, regimented and boring. He is saying that science can be done at home, in the back yard, by anybody. It doesn't have to be done by some international mega-corporation, or a bloated government agency. But most of all, he is saying that the science we understand now doesn't say that the universe is predictable and straightforward. Rather, Regis points out that the universe is a weird place, much weirder than most people realize, and it is only going to get weirder and weirder.
Regis clearly likes to poke a little fun at some of the characters he writes about, but I get the strong impression that he admires these people more than the ivory tower variety of professors and scientists who wouldn't know a revolutionary new idea if it hit them over the head. He shows a great respect for these people, and makes the reader wish he had personally witnessed the events described.
And not all of the science described in the book is as far-fetched as some reviewers would have you believe. If you've been asleep for the past couple of years, you might not have heard how the US government budgeted $500 million for nanotechnology research in 2000, or how Japan has matched or even exceeded that amount. If you haven't read K. Eric Drexler's excellent introduction to nanotech "Engines of Creation", then I don't know how you could comment on the feasibility of such technology. And if you think nanotech doesn't have a solid scientific foundation, then I suggest you try to tackle Drexler's "Nanosystems".
As for the feasibility of back yard rockets, there is no question we will have that technology someday. You know, Orville and Wilbur were just bicycle mechanics before they built the first working airplane.
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