The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive Paperback – Jun 6 2009
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About the Author
John Graham-Cumming is a wandering programmer who's lived in the UK, California, New York and France. Along the way he's worked for a succession of technology start-ups, written the award-winning open source POPFile email program and churned out articles for publications such as The Guardian newspaper, Dr Dobbs, and Linux Magazine. His previous effort writing a book was the obscure and self-published computer manual 'GNU Make Unleashed' which saturated its target market of 100 readers. Because he has a doctorate in computer security he's deeply suspicious of people who insist on being called Dr., but doesn't mind if you refer to him as a geek. He is the proud owner of a three-letter domain name where he hosts his web site: http://www.jgc.org.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now I have a copy, and I love it. When I take it with me to coffee, other regulars who have seen it before, grab it if I'm reading something else. We all love it because it is SO accessible (and these are people who are not nearly as geeky as me). Opening the book to literally any page pulls you in immediately. Even if you're not a traveller (I'm definitely not) the book is a compendium of bite-size world-wide technical history of innovation and invention -- in gratifying detail. No single topic is more than four pages long, so you can read many before your coffee gets cold. And you may be ordering a second cup, because this book is difficult to put down. You can read by region, or scan the table of contents for anything that looks interesting; The Escher Museum in the Netherlands, the Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 in Idaho, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Mendel Museum of Genetics in the Czech Republic, and 124 other notable places and times where something geeky and technologically important happened. I used to wonder how and where the speed of light was first measured. Now I know.
John has filled the pages not only with a discussion of interesting brief historical notes, but also with his own diagrams and explanations of every principle and discovery. He has a direct, straightforward, and clear writing style. And best of all for geeky readers like myself, he clearly knows what he's talking about. Unlike some authors who are disconcerting because you sense that they're not sure of their facts, you won't find any of that here. The technical content is precise and will satisfy the geekiest among us.
This book would be a bargain at twice Amazon's price of only $20. So think about getting two. Even if you are not a geek, you'll love this -- really. And I'll bet you know a geek who would value this just as much!
Take, for example, the entry on the Eiffel Tower. From the Geek Atlas we learn that the Eiffel Tower was built with puddle iron "which has a higher carbon content than wrought iron and therefore more tensile strength. Puddle iron is made by mixing the pig iron from a blast furnace with iron oxide (rust) and puddling it (stirring the molten mixture)." The Eiffel Tower section continues with a description of Eiffel's engineering approach to the tower's wind resistance: "In 1885, Eiffel wrote a paper for the French Society of Civil Engineers in which he described the most significant part of the tower's design -- he had eliminated any diagonal bars by ensuring that stress from the wind was transmitted exclusively down the exterior of the tower. This design dictated a specific curving shape." As familiar as the Eiffel Tower seems, I knew none of this!
I love this book. Give it to a curious kid, a dad or mom with kids, or devour its pages on your own. If you're a geek, or a lover of science and tech, this book's for you.
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