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Review Archive

Physics: A Short History from Quintessence to Quarks – John Heilbron

In Physics: A Short History from Quintessence to Quarks, John Heilbron sets himself an ambitious task: to cover some 2500 years of scientific development in a few hundred pages. Thinking about non-fiction in terms of pacing seems odd, but one of the things I thought about most while reading Physics was that it was moving too fast for me. Ironic? Maybe. The book jumps rapidly through time, pausing occasionally to linger on critical moments in the history of the study of physics. In a way, that makes it an excellent book for the layperson/enthusiast, since it can point interested readers to periods of time that pique their curiosity in particular. For my part, I now want to read much more about the development of astronomy and mathematics in the age of Muslim intellectualism, the ancient Greek schools, and 19th and 20th century developments. There are portions of Physics where Heilbron

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Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Writing about a book as monumental, as vital, as shattering as Between the World and Me is a difficult task. For all its difficulty, it is drop against a universe’s weight in water compared to the difficulty with which it deals, the difficulty MacArthur genius Ta-Nehisi Coates faced in living and writing it. It’s difficult to write about a book like Coates’s painfully honest, stripped-down look at the state of things for the black community in the US. It is difficult especially because it is written as a letter to his teenage son, a letter filled with the fear, pain, and sadness that are part-and-parcel of the black experience in this nation. A letter in response to the confusion, mistrust, and pain his son Samori felt after the lack of indictment in the killing of Michael Brown; one of many such events and subsequent injustices that have only recently begun

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Altered Perceptions Anthology – Various

  I heard about this anthology through the twitter accounts of the hosts of Writing Excuses, a podcast I’ve mentioned before on the Warbler, of which I’m rather fond. You’ll notice on that image of the cover that it was edited by none other than Brandon Sanderson, whose novels I’ve reviewed before, a few times. The anthology features the work of some 30 authors, alongside essays detailing their personal experiences relating to mental illness. I suppose that’s how I should have started this review. Altered Perceptions was compiled as a fundraiser, to help author Robison Wells out of a financial hole caused by four debilitating mental illnesses. Authors clamored for the opportunity to partake in this campaign, which ran on Indiegogo and raised over $120,000 toward the cause. I hadn’t heard of almost all of the writers from this anthology, and truth be told, I probably won’t be buying many

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Passport to the Cosmos – Dr. John E. Mack

And now for something completely different. Many of you, my adoring fans, are fully aware that I have a casual obsession with UFOs and “aliens.” I haven’t been abducted — and my general feelings on the abduction phenomenon are complicated at best — and I think I’ve seen a flying object of unknown (read: non-earthly) origin, but I like to maintain a healthy skepticism about the UFO/ET community, lest my hair begin to rise and I start declaiming that I’ve been given an honorary doctorate, and suddenly I get the privilege of a television program on which I deliver some nonsensical ramblings on how the only way primitive cultures could have survived without modern science is through alien intervention. The creation of megalithic structures that we still don’t fully understand notwithstanding, there’s definitely something fishy going on here. At the very least, it is mathematically (scientifically) impossible that we are

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