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Three Roads To Quantum Gravity
Three Roads To Quantum Gravity
by Lee Smolin
Edition: Hardcover
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Best overview - but too short, June 4 2003
This is an overview of current quantum gravity research -- in particular, string, canonical quantum gravity and loop quantum gravity. However, it is much more. The book starts out with a very fundumental philosophical question: Is there an external observer, or are all observers within the universe. By within the universe means, that is, the whole universe, no matter how many sub- or multi- universes there may be. Next, the book covers the history of physics that has been retained in our current understanding. This means there is no history-lesson-feeling to this book. After a discussion of the current thinking, the conclusions speculate on what will happen next in physical theories. Finally, the most important part of the book are the on-line refernces to supplement a book that is really too short.

Arguing Well
Arguing Well
by John Shand
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.13
28 used & new from CDN$ 1.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Active Scrutiny, June 4 2003
This review is from: Arguing Well (Paperback)
The first half:
The main value of this book is to teach people to notice poor arguments in their daily lives, such as reading, during the TV news, talking to a congressperson or one's children/parents. The idea is that if you see why arguments fail, that will make you more aware of your own faulty arguments and maybe fix them.
The book is very concentrated in few pages so there is no excuse not to read it. It's not 500 pages of esoteric jabber by law clerks during a trail.
The second half: It's all basic logic and truth tables, so you get some academics to boot.
Then, the final chapter, 6, is the most philosophical, giving the reasoning why reason is better than non-reason -- truthfinding.

The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: The High Tide of Prophecy
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2: The High Tide of Prophecy
by Karl R. Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.39
29 used & new from CDN$ 7.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the second volume first, June 4 2003
This second volume of this two volume book is more about what lead to and became the economic historicism of Marx and its consequences. I suggest you read this econd volume before the volume 1. Why? The most important parts are about reasoning. Reasoning why people act the why they do and then you will see much better why Popper is opposed to Plato in volume 1's argument.
The main body of this book provides the best argument I have seen against a closed-totalitarian society. It is a must read for Libertarians and U.S. Republicans for sure. The Liberal U.S. Democrats will not like it at all, -- the Conservative Democrats will probably like it. The UK Classical Liberals will almost certainly side with Popper.
For some reason the idea that Plato was pro-Totalitarianism and a Racialist was not brought forth in any of the schools I attended. Well, this book's volume 1 certainly corrects that oversight.
Even if you are opposed to Popper, his argument must be answered if you are going to be taken seriously in a debate. You will get a coherent historical line of thought from Plato all the way up to current Totalitarianism esp. Communism. If you are a totalitarian now, you might not be one after you read these books -- or you are going be to better prepared to defend yourself.

Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 1: The Spell of Plato
Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 1: The Spell of Plato
by Karl R. Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.21
32 used & new from CDN$ 8.69

5.0 out of 5 stars An analysis we where not taught in school, June 4 2003
For some reason the idea that Plato was pro-Totalitarianism and a Racialist was not brought forth in any of the schools I attended. Well, this book certainly corrects that oversight. The main body of this book provides the best argument I have seen against a closed-totalitarian society. It is a must read for Libertarians and U.S. Republicans for sure. The Liberal U.S. Democrats will not like it at all, -- the Conservative Democrats will probably like it. The UK Classical Liberals will almost certainly side with Popper.
Even if you are opposed to Popper, his argument must be answered if you are going to be taken seriously in a debate. The argument is based mostly on Plato's Republic. You will get a coherent historical line of thought from Plato all the way up to current Totalitarianism esp. Communism. The second volume of this two volume book is more about what lead to and became the economic historicism of Marx. It was hard for me not to read the second after reading the first volume, so I have them both.
If you are a totalitarian now, you might not be one after you read these books -- or you are going be to better prepared to defend yourself.

The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment
The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment
by Karl Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 36.18
14 used & new from CDN$ 36.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Presocratics make a come back, June 4 2003
The Pre-Socratic philosophers have made a comeback of sorts in the philosophy of quantum gravity. This book tells why they are important, still -- such as how they would view three dimensional space and relativity. Boltzmann's defense of atomism is in a chapter, anti-Parmenidean philosophy on modern physics is also present, and it's not all physics, the mind-body problem is also explored. Popper has some counter comments to the Kirk, Raven and Schofield book, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers (which I also highly recommend). All in all the book is easy to read because it is set in very small chapters, each complete unto themselves -- some chapters have 80 notations and 50 references.
Still, the best part is how this era of thought fits into modern science.

The First Immortal
The First Immortal
by James Halperin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Minor Flaws, May 9 2003
This is the first book I know of that really deals with what might happen when (not if) medical science extend life far beyond the 80 - 100 years we traditionally expect.
The best part of the book is the "newspaper" clipping . . . such as a team sport where the contestants can kill each other -- no, I _really_ mean kill each other -- and then be revived, . . . hilarious.
The implications for social problems and adjustments are very well thought-out. This book may become a Classic 50 years from now when we get to the actual science described in the book.
The minor flaw is common to all hard science fiction -- too technical for most readers (but then again, I like technical writing).

Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing
Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing
by Martin Gardner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.18
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Good, May 9 2003
This book is a little out of date and a little too basic. It is for the beginner and is not an advanced text. The best thing that it is short. Because it is so short, it had to be packed densely with information, no wordiness. I've never had enough time to read The Codebreakers book, too big. Here I got informed in minimal time and the book is much less expensive -- it's got a better cost to read ratio and cost to information ratio.

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
by Simon Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
44 used & new from CDN$ 2.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging Contest, May 9 2003
This book is a history of cryptology with many undated sections compared to the older famous, The Code Breakers, book. Especially, the section on asymmetrical systems and the history of PGP are presented. It is not a Helen Gains styled mathematical book, however.
But, it is much more than boring history. . .
The best section is the contest to break progressively more difficult ciphers. The contest was won long ago, but I tried it anyway and it was a wonderful experience. Very challenging and I always learn more by doing the problems in technical books anyway, than just reading the history. The answers are not always in English, which is much more realistic. Telling you this will not spoil it for you, because that hint is given in the book anyway.

The Selfish Gene
The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Meme Central, May 9 2003
This review is from: The Selfish Gene (Paperback)
The book is generally difficult to read because it is very detailed and filled with examples. But other readers might like that, so I only deduct one star.
So, why all stars? Namely . . . the chapter on memes, i.e. infectious ideas.
This concept has extended many theories in the fields of psychology, biology and culture. While criticized widely, I find the theory that ideas spread like viruses very true -- of course, I'm a microbiologist. This book was the first time, I know of, where the meme idea was presented. The word, meme, was coined by Dawkins in this book.

A New Kind of Science
A New Kind of Science
by Stephen Wolfram
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.78
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.70

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Without Scientific Merit, May 1 2003
This review is from: A New Kind of Science (Hardcover)
This book tries, unsuccessfully, to delve in what is called a Global Dynamics view -- such as, continuous dynamical systems consisting of state space and a mapping.
Most recently, this kind of approach has been extensively revealed in Steven H. Strogatz's (1994) Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, with applications to physics, biology, chemistry and engineering.
Conversely, Stephen Wolfram's (2002) A New Kind of Science, is filled with wonderful artistic illustrations but . . . the book is poorly written, poorly edited and because of these two reasons, the book is without scientific merit.
The importance of Global Dynamics, to me, is that it may let us understand what is happening in the neural networks inside the animal brain which has been hidden from our investigatory view so far -- probably because we have only used top-down abstract-informational tools. This is why Wolfram continually sees this as "new science." It is, however, only new to him -- a problem with self-published books without peer review.
In a dynamical evolving three-dimensional system, sets (think of this as a 3-D volume) of initial conditions are confined in a phase space. Over time, the initial condition volume contracts exponentially fast. They get more constrained over time. A history of that change can be reconstructed. But we are more interested in future predictions, given an indeterministic quantum universe. Importantly, the tightening constraints will limit the possible prediction-solutions we can get. Therefore it is easier for us to deal with them. If we use this approach, the number of possible solutions goes down from an impossible random event prediction . . . to either a set of fixed points, limit cycles or in some special cases, strange attractors -- which are much easier to work with. ...

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