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Duwayne Anderson (Saint Helens, Oregon)
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Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior- -Anytime, Anyplace
Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior- -Anytime, Anyplace
von Jo-Ellan Dimitrius
  Taschenbuch

2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Not worth the trouble., 3. Januar 2000
This book wasn't what I expected. I'd wanted a book with academic validity that would discuss the nuances of human behavior in everyday life, particularly from a standpoint of our evolutionary past. I suppose it's my own fault. I picked it up while browsing an airport bookstore and failed to take the time to scan it properly. So instead of getting what I wanted, I got a book that's a little bit Martha Stewart, a little bit psychology 101, a little bit common sense, and a lot of best-seller baloney. [I suspect Jo-Ellan realizes the shoddy nature of the book's academic value, as she has prominently displayed "Ph.D." next to her name on the book's cover, presumably in an attempt to give it more validity than it deserves.]
Jo-Ellan and her co-author are from the legal profession, and have participated actively in some rather high-profile cases like the O. J. Simpson trial. She makes her living by helping lawyers stack the jury. Of course Jo-Ellan would never actually put it that way. In fact, I'm sure the authors would disagree with that characterization. On page 12, for example, Jo-Ellan says: "I have only one goal: to assemble a group of people who will listen with an open mind to my client's side of the story." That's the talk, but she doesn't walk the walk. After telling us her high-minded religion, Jo-Ellan proceeds to give one example after another showing how open mindedness is the last thing she wants in a jury. What she really wants (and this is how she makes her money) is to find jurors who will vote for her clients regardless of the facts.
For example, on page 35 the authors explain how they "conduct research to identify predictive traits, characteristics likely to have the greatest influence on a juror's beliefs...We record their age, sex, and race....From their replies we determine which traits most frequently appear in people who view the case a particular way [their way].... After studying the information obtained from the mock jurors, we prepare questionnaires for the real prospective jurors.... We can't ask them in advance how they would decide the case [but presumably would if they could], but if we know how others with similar traits would have decided it, we can make an educated guess [that will help us stack the jury in favor of our client]"
Although it's enough to turn a fair-minded citizen's stomach, the author's descriptions of the shenanigans that go into jury selection are among the book's most informative aspects. If you ever wanted to know how to get selected for a jury - or how to get kicked off of one - this book will be an invaluable resource.
There is no new information in the book. It's mostly how to use common sense, mixed up with lots of rules based on stereotypes and things your mother might have told you. In fact, the author's even solicited anecdotal stories about how to read people. They suggest a future book with all your insightful comments "see your story in print." So look for their future edition, or read the cover of supermarket tabloids (whichever comes first).
I found the blunt description of stereotypes (including racial and ethnic stereotypes) rather interesting, especially in the context of the O. J. Simpson trial. Here we have the defense explaining how they used stereotypes to select a jury that then disregarded the material facts in the case and rendered a verdict of not guilty because of defense hype about stereotypes used by the police.
The book also offers lots of examples illustrating problems in cognitive reasoning. Jo-Ellan is obviously proud of her ability to pick the right jurors for the case. In doing so, however, she seems to overlook almost completely the roll that material facts have (or should have) in court cases. In her mind, it seems, every time a case is won it's because she picked the right jurors. In fact, she makes a point of saying that the reason she knows that her method of reading people works is because her cases have all been so successful. What's she's missing, of course, is any information about how the juries would have voted if all the people she dismissed based on stereotyping had been allowed to remain on the jury. This is classic logical dissonance. If you are interested in this sort of fallacious reasoning I suggest "How we know what isn't so," by Gilovich.
Throughout the book Jo-Ellan applies her distinctly cosmopolitan standard to reading people. For her the most important clues are shinny shoes, a primed haircut, pressed pants, and how you behave at dinner parties. Even the tissue you keep around the house says something of your character - more sensitive people use softer tissue, you know.
As you may have guessed, I don't think much of the book.
Duwayne Anderson Saint Helens, Oregon. November 19, 1999


Advanced Math Methods Engineering
Advanced Math Methods Engineering
von Stephenson/Radmore
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 43,69

5.0 von 5 Sternen A great reference book, 3. Januar 2000
This is not a book about advanced mathematics for mathematicians, but rather (as the title says) a book about advanced mathematical methods for practicing engineers, scientists, and students.
The number of subjects covered is truly impressive in such a relatively short book (only about 250 pages). Because of its brevity, though, I'd not recommend this book as a first course in mathematics for engineers and scientists (though the authors suggest it might be used that way). For a first course, I'd recommend a more complete text such as the one I used as an undergraduate (C. Ray Wylie, "Advanced Engineering Mathematics," McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975). Although Stephenson and Radmore actually cover more material, Wylie's book has roughly twice as many pages, with more mathematical rigor and much more detail.
Although I don't recommend Stephenson and Radmore as a first text on the subject, I think it makes an excellent reference book, and would be a useful text as part of a refresher course taken by graduate students. This is a concise text that brings to your finger tips a broad assortment of valuable mathematical knowledge. The information is arranged (for the most part) so that it is easy to find, and easy to discern the important summary points.
The book has 9 chapters. The first chapter is a nice review of tensor algebra. The authors do a good job of dealing with the tensor notation without being too cryptic (something other books on tensor algebra fail to do). Chapter 2 deals with special functions, including gamma and Bessel functions. This is a pretty easy chapter, and is arranged in a particularly useful manner for a reference text.
Chapters 3 and 4 deal with non-linear ordinary differential equations. As with the other chapters in this book, there is relatively little development along the lines of mathematical proofs. Many of the methods are simply explained without the benefit of deeper understanding about why and how the methods work. This is fine (as I said) for a reference book. In fact, it is preferable. But, it is one of the reasons I'd not recommend this book for a first course (though it would make a great textbook for a graduate course with students already familiar with much of the material).
One of the things I truly enjoyed about this book is the number of worked examples. The authors typically present a concept or method, and then work through several examples that illustrate how the method or concept works. On the negative side, however, few of the worked examples deal with actual physical problems. While this is not always necessary, it would have been nice in a book that is targeted for engineering and science students.
Chapters 5 and 6 deal with calculus in the complex plane, specifically contour integration. As with the other chapters, these chapters are relatively brief (only about 60 pages together) but jam-packed with all sorts of useful information. This is one of the best summaries of contour integration that I've seen. Virtually all the pertinent information that engineering or science students would need on the subject is found here, along with applicable worked examples to emphasize key principles and ideas.
Chapter 7 deals with the Laplace and Fourier transforms, with almost all the emphasis on Laplace transforms. The authors develop ideas that are general, and based on the idea of an integral transform using an arbitrary kernel. They then introduce the Laplace kernel and develop a number of key theorems, along with worked examples, around the Laplace kernel. They finish the chapter with a brief summary of how the ideas based on the Laplace transform apply also to the Fourier transform.
Chapter 8 deals with partial differential equations. I found this chapter to be among the most abbreviated. Entire books have been written on the subject, but this chapter is only 28 pages long. Although the authors present many famous partial differential equations from science and engineering, they really do not develop the ideas with those in mind. This chapter is possibly more mathematically abstract than most students of engineering and physical sciences would prefer, but still an excellent source of summary information on the subject.
My favorite was chapter 9. This chapter is a great little summary of the calculus of variations. There is an interesting derivation of Euler's equation, and several worked examples that I liked. The authors also introduce the Lagrangian in this chapter, and offer two examples (a swinging pendulum and spring-coupled weights) showing how the Lagrangian is used to derive the equations of motion for dynamic systems. Note again, however, the abbreviated style. Stephenson and Radmore introduce the Lagrangian and give examples using only three pages. By contrast, my copy of Bradbury (T. C. Bradbury, "Theoretical Mechanics," Wiley, 1968) devotes significant parts of several chapters to the subject.
In summary, this is an excellent reference text for individuals already familiar (or at least somewhat familiar) with the information. It's an excellent text for reviewing the information as a book read cover to cover, or for finding the solution to a mathematical problem in a pinch. The material is condensed but accurate and nicely organized. It also has problems at the end of each chapter, with the answers in the back for the self-directed student. My only real complaint is that the index is rather brief.
Overall, though, this is a great book. If you are a student of engineering or science, and if you work with mathematics, you really should have this book in your library. Keep in mind, though, that this is a book on mathematics. There are hundreds of equations in this book, and some pages where few words in English appear.
January 3, 2000


Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics
Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics
von Robert Banks
  Gebundene Ausgabe

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Adventures in applied mathematics, 23. November 1999
Mathematics has been called the universal language. After reading Bank's book you might believe it's so. Banks takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of mathematical applications to a broad range of every-day events and phenomena. In doing so he exposes the reader not only to some fun and interesting mathematics but also to a better appreciation of analysis and how broadly it applies to our lives.
As the title says, this is a book on applied mathematics. To read and enjoy it you need to understand basic integral calculus and solutions to differential equations. There's also a smattering of algebra, trigonometry, and geometry.
One of the first things I noticed about the book is the breadth and scope of the topics. Banks does not live in a single corner of the world, but has obviously striven to sample a wide variety of mathematical applications in some remote corners of the world. There is, as the cover suggests, a mathematical treatment of towing icebergs, complete with cost and structural engineering analysis. This happens relatively close to the beginning of the book. Nearer the end of the book Banks has a chapter devoted to the science of waves in falling dominoes. In between is a wide selection of other topics, including quite a bit on exponential growth, both limited and unlimited, and its applications to lots of natural systems including alligator eggs, GNP, and deficit spending.
Banks does more than simply describe physical problems and write down their differential equations. He also does a good job of explaining the phenomena. Nor do integrals and differential equations describe all the problems. A significant portion of the book, for example, is devoted to statistics and related things like curve fitting.
And he does not forget the social sciences, either. Banks touches on such subjects as how to start a football game, a better way to score the Olympics, how to calculate the economic energy of a nation, and how to reduce the population. I found these subjects quite interesting, though I think the linear curve fit he used in the section on scoring the Olympics stretches my imagination. [To me, the data look pretty random. Indeed, the correlation coefficient is only slightly more than 0.5 (see figure 8.1 and correlation coefficient after equation (8.1)). Still, Banks (as if driven by a preconceived objective) presses on and applies a linear regression from which he later derives key results for his scoring method.]
For the sports-minded among you Banks offers lots of examples of applied mathematics in the fields (pun intended) of baseball, golf, track, basketball, jumping rope, ski jumping, and the shot put. For example, did you know that a child jumping rope is swinging a curve called a troposkein? Furthermore, the troposkein is useful in vertical-axis wind turbines because the shape eliminates compression and bending forces. So the next time you see the kids jumping rope, tell them how to chant "one troposkein, two troposkein ..." instead. It will be an opportunity to teach them some mathematics as well as really impress their teachers.
Most of the sports examples involve problems with air. Air causes drag, which is usually a problem to be fought in sports, but it also causes lift, which can be either a problem (as in the hook and slice in your game of golf) or an advantage (as in your curve or knuckle ball in baseball). I particularly enjoyed the discussion of aerodynamics and its application to ski jumping. Seriously, this is one book you want to read before the next Olympics.
There are also brief forays into architecture, meteorites, and wave phenomena. Do you know why the Eiffel Tower looks the way it does? How about the Gateway arch in Saint Louis? If not, you can find the answers in chapter 13. Want to know when to run for cover if a large meteor is heading our way? Then read chapters 4 and 5. Ever wonder why a tsunami causes widespread destruction on land but does not seem to be even noticed by ships at sea? Then you won't want to miss chapter 21.
The constant theme throughout this book (though Banks never states it explicitly) is that mathematics is the universal language. Through its magic we understand and control our world.
In addition to being a great book for subject and clarity, the book also has a nice presentation. The equations are all numbered. Failure to number equations was a complaint I had about "The Story of root minus one," by Paul J. Nahin (Nahin, by the way, is quoted on the back cover). Banks is also a walking treasure chest of other references. If any of the subjects he touches upon interest you, then run (don't walk) to the bibliography. You will find lots of references there for further (usually more detailed) discussions and treatments of the subjects Bank's covers. The book is also pretty accurate. I found only minor typographical errors like the missing equal sign in equation (19.6) and a typo on table 20.2.
Another thing I liked about the book is the way Banks leaves lots of the derivations to the reader. Sometimes these derivations involve a page or two of scribbles (like the one for equation 17.22). The book also has problems and suggested research topics for students. This would be a great idea book for students in mathematics, physics, and engineering. About the only complaint I have is that the book's index is miserly. Use lots of yellow markers, dog-ear the pages, and you may want to have some sticky notes around as well when you read it.
So, if you love mathematics and especially applied mathematics I highly recommend this book. I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Duwayne Anderson Saint Helens November 23, 1999


The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier
The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier
von Bruce Barcott
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,37

4.0 von 5 Sternen A good story, 18. November 1999
Bruce Barcott writes as if you were in the room speaking with him. His style is friendly, to the point (often blunt) descriptive and frequently flowery. He uses such descriptive phrases that I was often left rolling on the floor, tears of laughter flowing from my eyes.
It's hard to categorize this book. It's not really about climbing mountains, though there is plenty of that. It's not really about geology, though there is plenty of that as well. It's not about ecology, though ecologists will certainly connect with Barcott, and it's not really about history, even though there are lots of interesting historical tidbits sprinkled throughout the book. The book is sort of a mish mash of all these subjects that Barcott ultimately ties in with the mountain that defines Washington State, and Seattle in particular: Rainier.
It's hard to say what part of the book I enjoyed the most. I really enjoyed the stories about the mountain's "real" name. Even though I grew up in Federal Way, Washington I never knew about the battle waged by Tacoma in trying to rename Rainier with it's original (or at least one of them) Indian name. There are other interesting historical footnotes like the military plane carrying marines home for the Christmas holidays that slammed into the mountain. And, of course, there are stories about early climbers like Muir.
Barcott describes lots of his hikes around Rainier, particularly the wonderland trail, and he ends the book with an account of his climb to the summit. As it turned out, I had climbed Rainier in June of the same year Barcott climbed it (he climbed in July) and so it was interesting comparing my recollection of the trip with his.
Barcott tries hard not to come across as the typical macho, climb-or-die mountaineer. In fact, he has some rather harsh words to say about some of the people who climb - offering physiological analysis that, although insightful and probably close to the mark, is sometimes pretty insulting. But that's Barcott's style - to the point with no BS. I like it.
The author presents lots of stuff in the book as factual, but there are no footnotes or chapter endnotes. Consequently, at first I was a little skeptical about how much of the book (especially what appeared to be anecdotal) is just fabricated for its story-telling value. Upon reaching the end of the book, however, I had to conclude that Barcott has probably done his homework and research pretty thoroughly. There is a long list of references (roughly 100) with descriptions about many. Some of the references look pretty good, and I'm probably going to get one or two of them for further reading. The book also has a complete index, which is something the forgetful among us always appreciate.
Overall this is a fine book. It's enjoyable, interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes reflective, but always engaging. I read the entire book - all 250 pages - in just a few days. It's a great companion for those cold rainy Northwest nights when there's a log in the fireplace.
Duwayne Anderson Saint Helens, Oregon. November 18, 1999


Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming
Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming
von S. George Philander
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen It's really about climate, 12. Oktober 1999
It's hard to imagine a more relevant, timely, and important book for our day than Philander's book on global warming. Though I say the book is about global warming, I really must elaborate. You see, this is really a book on earth's climate. Global warming is just a part of the book - a relatively short chapter at the end. The rest of the book consists of background information about climate that enables the reader to understand (at least in concept) the scientific arguments and issues related to global warming. Whether you believe that human intervention in the composition of the atmosphere will alter earth's climate or not (and I'm personally hoping you have the sense to do so) this is a first-rate book on climate issues in general.
The book is broken into three "parts." The first part is really just an introduction and discusses things at a pretty high level. The second part deals with weather (variations in day to day atmospheric conditions). There is an introduction to ideas related to absorption and radiation of heat, atmospheric pressure and temperature gradients (what causes them), the hydrological cycle, winds, and how the ocean and atmosphere couple together.
I particularly found the discussion about the ocean currents interesting. There is an unusually good discussion of El Nino and how it forms. There is also some good discussion about why ice ages have appeared over the earth's history. [For a more directed discussion about ice ages, I suggest "Ice Ages, Solving the mystery," by John Imbrie and Katherine Palmer Imbrie.
The main text of the book is non-mathematical and has plenty of diagrams and illustrations to help convey concepts. The book also comes equipped with 13 appendixes that go into more quantitative detail. These appendixes use numerous equations, but require no skills in mathematics beyond high-school trigonometry and algebra. [For a more rigorous and advanced text I suggest "The physics of atmospheres," by John T. Houghton."]
The last (third) part of the book gets down to business regarding the subject of global warming. It also discusses the ozone hole and provides an illuminating discussion about why it appears over the southern polar cap.
I thought that one major piece of missing information is a breakdown by country and source of the types of pollution that can lead to global warming. It would be nice, for example, to see a chart that shows how much each country contributes, the individual contributions in each country, and the types of fuels that are the most damaging. [This information is available from sources in the bibliography, however.]
If I could summarize the author's main premise it would be this: The atmosphere is an incredibly complicated system that illustrates sometimes-chaotic behavior. Globally it is probably stable - we most likely will not cause runaway global warming and life will survive. Locally, however, the weather can and does behave chaotically. We have the power to make our atmosphere more hazardous for our species. We are taking a terrible gamble in modifying several greenhouse gases, not by factors of a few percent, but by hundreds of percent.
The fact there is uncertainty in the exact final outcome is not the point. The point is we are gambling with the only atmosphere we have, and the results, if we loose, could be dire. I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels an obligation to be more informed about what is, perhaps, the most important environmental issue of the day.
Duwayne Anderson Saint Helens, Oregon October 12, 1999


Handbook of Optical Fiber Telecommunications: Pt. 3A (Optical Fiber Telecommunications III): v. 3, Pt. A
Handbook of Optical Fiber Telecommunications: Pt. 3A (Optical Fiber Telecommunications III): v. 3, Pt. A
von Ivan P. Kaminow
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 163,80

5.0 von 5 Sternen A comprehensive review, 8. Oktober 1999
Optical Fiber Telecommunications III is designed for anyone engaged in engineering work related to the fiber-optics telecommunications industry. There seems to be little doubt about the revolutionary path leading to full deployment of fiber in the telecommunications backbone network, or the trends moving fiber closer to and closer to end users. Yet, while this continual deepening of fiber into the national network progresses steadily, a new revolution has overtaken photonics in the backbone: dense wavelength-division multiplexing, or DWDM. DWDM, perhaps more than any other technology, is the reason that the third edition of this seminal work is needed today. It's not too surprising, then, that most of the third edition is directly or indirectly related to design concerns related to DWDM.
This text is best described as an engineer's desk reference. The scope is large, necessitating breaking the book into two volumes. Volume III A deals mostly with system issues and concerns, delving into more esoteric component issues primarily to illustrate the wider network implications. Volume III B deals more with specific component design issues, such as sources, detectors, and erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs).
As a desk reference, there are few derivations of equations from first principles. Perhaps the closest derivation is that of the nonlinear Schrodinger equation in chapter 12 on soliton transmission. Even here, however, the derivation is sketchy at best. For the most part the book simply places the equations at the reader's disposal. I found most of the equations are explained well, and most of the chapter authors included numeric examples, charts, and graphs. This helps immensely in understanding the implications of the many equations presented throughout the text. For those interested in derivations, each chapter comes with extensive endnotes so that anyone interested in reviewing the original work can easily do so.
One problem with the text revolves around definitions of mathematical variables and constants. Though they are all defined as introduced to the reader, there is no glossary of these terms. I constantly found myself writing in the books margins little notes like "alpha is the total loss coefficient, first used in equation x on page y." Since different authors write each chapter in the book, it may not be practical to have a glossary of terms for the entire volume - usage will probably overlap. Still, it would be nice had the editors suggested that each chapter have a glossary of mathematical variables. It would make the book far more practical and useful as a desk reference. On a more positive note, however, the book does contain a detailed and useful index.
Even without derivations, the book contains a plethora of equations and charts to satisfy the needs of most quantitatively oriented engineers. It's a good introductory book for those with a modest background in optical telecommunications technology. It's also a useful book for those more familiar with the technology, but needing a handy reference source with most of the pertinent information conveniently bound between two covers. Volume A contains 15 chapters in roughly 600 pages. Volume B is slightly smaller, having 10 chapters in roughly 500 pages.
For me, the two most interesting and useful sections of the book were chapter 8, "Fiber nonlinearities and their impact on transmission systems," and chapter 12, "Solitons in high bit-rate, long-distance transmissions." Chapter 12 is probably one of the best written. Although the subject matter is among the most difficult covered in the book, L. F. Mollenauer, J.P. Gordon, and P. V. Mamyshev have done a remarkable job of explaining solitions in a quantitative, accurate, yet clear and concise manner.
The first chapter in the book, a brief overview by Ivan P. Kaminow, provides some interesting historical insights and background, but has relatively little pertinent information for the design engineer. The second chapter deals at a high level with SONET and ATM technologies, explaining the requirements that led to the development of these standards and some of their topologies such as chains and self-healing rings. Chapter 3 deals with coding and error correction in optical fiber. This chapter was interesting in its use of fundamental physics (such as quantum noise) to examine the need for coding.
The next chapters move from coding and protocol to issues in the physical layer. Chapter 6 deals with polarization effects, the origin of polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and how to measure PMD. On a similar theme, chapter 7 deals with the subject of chromatic dispersion and, perhaps more importantly, the subject of dispersion compensation. One of the interesting facts about DWDM is that elimination of dispersion is no longer a design goal, as it is with single-wavelength transmission systems. In DWDM systems the designer wants just the right amount of dispersion - not too much, and not too little. There are even situations in which the dispersion map matters - in other words, you cannot always count on being able to place large bulk amounts of compensating dispersion just in front of the optical receiver. Sometimes you need to distribute it along the fiber's length.
Two chapters, 9 and 10, deal with the specific design concerns of terrestrial and undersea lightwave systems, while chapter 14 deals with the substantial concerns of analog video transmission over optical fibers. Chapter 11 deals with advances in high bit-rate transmission systems (this chapter tends to be somewhat dated, and the situation will only get worse with passing time). Chapter 13 surveys the types of fiber architectures in current and possibly future networks. Finally, Ivan P. Kaminow finishes the book with a chapter on advanced multi-access lightwave networks, which is primarily the switched DWDM network (another chapter subject to dating).
This is an extremely valuable book for anyone involved in Photonics in the telecommunications network. I highly recommend it. Whether you read it cover to cover, or simply keep it handy as a desk reference, I'm sure you will find it well worth the cover price.


Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor
Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor
von Tim Berners-Lee
  Gebundene Ausgabe

3.0 von 5 Sternen A mixed bag, 1. Oktober 1999
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Berners-Lee has written a book that not only describes the invention and evolution of the Web, but also inspires commitment to high principles and deep introspection. Berners-Lee is clearly an intellect of the highest caliber, and his commitment to democratic principles in developing the Web is, to me, profoundly admirable. On the other hand, the author seems to labor under the common curse of most software engineers - an inability to clearly communicate ideas and concepts to the non-specialist. Though he tries in words to communicate these concepts, I believe that, overall, his attempt fails unless the reader first has some exposure to, and familiarity with the world-wide Web - an unacceptable pre-requisite for a book directed at the non-specialist.
The really unfortunate thing about this is that it does not need to be so. For example, the book has no figures and no tables (though it does have a glossary of the hundreds of acronyms used and a good index). A few well-designed figures and summary tables would help a great deal to unify concepts that are just plain fuzzy and awkward when described with words alone. If you've ever seen a Web site and hypertext you can pretty well follow along with the written descriptions, but how much more helpful it would have been to have a few (color) pictures illustrating what a well-constructed Web site with hyper text looks like.
The book does have its fine points. It is a first-hand look at how the Web came into existence, and how it is continuing to evolve today. It also explains efforts to make the Web more valuable. For example, my experience with the Web indicates that it has not only enabled the exchange of accurate, timely, and useful information, but also the dissemination of ignorance, intolerance, and stupidity. Not only has it facilitated these things, it has made it possible for them to "dress up" and look as legitimate as the best peer-review science journal. The unfortunate fact is that anyone with a few thousand dollars and the proper disposition can setup a Web site and say anything they want. This certainly facilitates democratic principles, and I'm not suggesting a central authority that practices censorship by any means, but the unfortunate fact is that it results in an information structure where virtually everything is suspect.
Berners-Lee hints at solutions to this problem through what he calls a "Web of Trust" in which people establish associations on the Web much as they do in real life, where certain associations bring trust, while others bring suspicion. For example, when I pick up a technical book by Wylie, I tend to trust the content because of my experience with other books by this publisher. I make similar associations with some authors, journals, newsmagazines, etc. Development of processes and standards to support this "Web of Trust" will go a long way toward improving the utility of the worldwide Web.
Anther problem I've found with the Web is that there are no acceptable search engines. Current search engines (including the butler) are clumsy things that act like they are trying to understand what you are asking for, but really haven't a clue. Work in progress should enable search engines to actually act intelligently, and provide far greater utility. The author describes some of the possibilities in this arena as well, and sheds some light on what we might expect to see in the future.
Every politician involved in writing legislation associated with the Web should read this book if, for no other reason, than to understand the consequences of attempts to censor information. Burners-Lee offers several anecdotal stories that illustrate the complexity of the Web and how attempts to censor can have unintended consequences. The one I like best regards a Christian fundamentalist group that lobbied for tools that would allow them and others to block sites they considered to be pornographic. As it turned out, other groups had used similar tools to block the fundamentalists' Web site because they considered it to be unacceptable to children owning to the white supremacist and anti-gay propaganda carried there. The example hit home with two important facts about censorship and the Web: First, no single person can decide for everyone what is unacceptable and offensive - big brother censorship is totally unacceptable. Second, the technical tools exist for people to censor themselves and/or their children by blocking certain sites. What we as a society should do, therefore, is to maintain our commitment to democratic principles and freedom of expression while providing the proper technical tools to ensure that parents and individuals continue to have control over what and whom they wish to associate.
There is also a good discussion about issues relating to privacy. Clearly, the Europeans are far ahead of Americans in this area. It seems odd that so many Americans seem oblivious and unconcerned about personal information being acquired about them over the Internet, and that our government has done so little to protect personal privacy.
One unifying theme comes through this book - the Web is not a "thing," it is a space. This space is not controlled by a central authority, but is built upon the principles of individual freedom of expression. Berners-Lee's personal commitment to these ideals is the real reason the Web exists today.


Imaginary Tale: The Story of "I" (the Square Root of Minus One)
Imaginary Tale: The Story of "I" (the Square Root of Minus One)
von Paul J Nahin
  Gebundene Ausgabe

8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A great book, chock full of equations, 22. September 1999
When I first took a copy of Nahin's book off the shelf, I expected a history book operating under the usual rules that seem to dominate easy reading books on science today - no equations. What I found instead was an unexpected surprise that immediately cemented my decision to purchase the book - it is chuck full of equations. But then, how do you write a book about mathematics without using equations? I'm glad that for this one, at least, the publishers listened to reason.
Of course, the book isn't all equations. There is some downright interesting history in it as well. For the most part, however, this is a book that illustrates the equations (or at least their modern counter parts) that led mathematicians to develop the concept of the square root of a negative number, eventually leading to the branch of mathematics we call today complex analysis. Having said that, I should point out that this is not a mathematics book on complex analysis [for that, a better choice is "Complex Variables," by Mark J. Ablowitz and Athanassios S. Fokas, Cambridge University Press, 1997]. The author does not develop theorems or proofs, and many of the demonstrations stretch the notion of mathematical proofs - but they are not intended to be mathematical proofs at all, but just that - demonstrations. Think of this book as a mathematicians leisurely romp through the mathematical history of root negative one, with an average of at least two or three equations on every page. The mathematics isn't advanced by any means. If you are reasonably grounded in algebra, geometry, trigonometry (and lots of it), and a little calculus (including a few differential equations) you should have no trouble at all. Plan on working through the equations, though, step by step. You won't want to miss a single "aaaahhh."
I really have only two complaints about Nahin's book, both of which are really pretty minor. The first complaint is that none of the equations are numbered. This means the author is constantly saying things like "now go back to the first equation in the last section and notice ...." I found this sometimes hard to follow, and would have appreciated a few key equations having numbers (and a box) associated with them. Another complaint is that the book has some typographical errors in some of the equations that can sometimes interfere with following the derivations.
Don't misunderstand, though. This is one of the best leisure books on mathematics I've read in a long time. The author writes clearly, has an incredible breadth of knowledge, and presents some really beautiful mathematics. It was a real let down when I finally finished, and realized how tough it was going to be finding another book to which I would look with such yearning at the end of the day for a relaxing evening of intellectual entertainment.
The book begins with the story of cubics, and how their solutions involved the square root of negative numbers. From there the book moves toward early work, or the "first try" at understanding complex numbers. There is some interesting history about Rene Descartes and John Wallis, as well as stories about Casper Wessel, Gauss, Argand, Warren, Mourey, and, of course, De Moivre.
The books first three chapters have the most history. The last four chapters offer more examples of how complex analysis has played a pivotal role in science and technology. The author offers some interesting uses of complex analysis in the solving of integrals, trigonometric identities, Kepler's laws of satellite orbits, and, of course, circuit analysis in electrical engineering.
My favorite chapter by far is chapter six, titled "wizard mathematics." It seems there was a "aaaahhh" on at least every other page. This chapter is devoted to illuminating some of the mathematical prowess of wizards such as Euler, Bernoulli, Fagnano, Cotes, Riemann, and Schellback. Plan on using up at least one highlighter on this chapter alone.
Nahin ends with a chapter on complex analysis in the nineteenth century, and Cauchy's integral formulas (there is also a brief discussion and derivation of Green's theorem). Then, as with the other chapters, Nahin gives lots of examples of what you can do with these mathematical tools, and where they can take you.
Easily one of the best books I've ever read. If you love mathematics, your library really cannot be considered complete unless this book, tattered and worn with lots of dog-eared pages and scribbles all over the margins, is on the shelf.
Duwayne Anderson September 22, 1999


Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson's Archaeological Search for the Book of Mormon
Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson's Archaeological Search for the Book of Mormon
von Stan Larson
  Taschenbuch

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A tragedy of truth found and rejected, 25. August 1999
In an ideal world you'd expect that any subject could be coolly and dispassionately examined and judged according to the facts. We don't live in such a world, though, and this is abundantly clear upon reading Stan Larson's book "Quest for the Gold Plates."
This is a book about one man's search for truth. Thomas Stuart Ferguson was a staunch Mormon with a dream to show to the world that Mormonism is true, and that the Book of Mormon is literally the history of a vast ancient Amerindian civilization. According to the Book of Mormon there were three migrations from the Old World to the New. The first migration happened sometime around the fabled tower of Babel described in the Old Testament. The second two migrations happened within a few years of each other, and involved Hebrew migrations from the area around Jerusalem roughly 600 BCE.
According to the Book of Mormon, the people involved in these migrations established huge civilizations that stretched from sea to sea. They wrote extensively using Hebrew and Egyptian, domesticated horses and cattle, cultivated many Old World plants, traveled in chariots, and smelted many metals, including iron and steel.
The Book of Mormon, ostensibly written by these civilizations, came to us from the prophet Joseph Smith, who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Not too surprisingly, however, the golden plates are not available for scientific examination - the same angle who gave them to Joseph for "translation" took them back when the book was complete. Thus giving us the title of Larson's book.
The Book of Mormon is so descriptive and unambiguous about the extent and type of ancient Amerindian civilizations it describes that it practically screams for corroborating archaeological evidence to support its assertions. As a young man, Ferguson felt foreordained as the person responsible for finding this archaeological information and bringing it to the world - proving Mormonism is true and opening the floodgates for converts into Joseph Smith's religion.
Ferguson was unrelenting, and he moved in high circles within the Mormon Church. He co-authored "Ancient American and the Book of Mormon" with Milton R. Hunter (a General Authority in the Mormon Church) and on October 1952 Ferguson organized the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF) in California. Early on NWAF performed some valuable archaeological research, and employed some eminent non-Mormon scientists. This was part of Ferguson's plan, as he intended the archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon to be of the highest academic quality. Eventually, however, the Mormon Church lost its enthusiasm for funding a strictly academic organization, especially as the promised evidence for the Book of Mormon failed year after year to appear. In 1960 the First Presidency of the LDS Church announced that NWAF would be reorganized, and its continued support from the LDS Church would come through church-owned BYU with Howard W. Hunter, an apostle of the Mormon Church, appointed as chairman in January 1961, and Ferguson as secretary.
Ferguson began his quest with rhetoric of the highest moral caliber. He described his quest as a search for truth. He was firm in his conviction that through his work the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith would be vindicated at last, and all the world compelled to admit that the Book of Mormon was literal history, and by implication that Mormonism was God's restored church on earth. As the years passed, however, and the expected evidence stubbornly refused to materialize, Ferguson became less brash. Eventually he came to recognize that the archaeological evidence he looked for did not exist. In 1993 Michael D. Coe, professor of anthropology at Yale University, summarized the situation by saying:
"I have seen no archaeological evidence before or since that [1973] date which would convince me that it [the Book of Mormon] is anything but a fanciful creation by an unusually gifted individual living in upstate New York in the early nineteenth century." [page 70].
Though Ferguson began his quest as a quest for truth, once he found the truth he quickly abandoned his earlier plans to disseminate it. Larson shows clearly through letters and documented conversations that Ferguson eventually reached the same conclusion as Coe. Yet while the young Ferguson expected people in other religions to abandon their faith for the light and truth of Mormonism, the old Ferguson proved too inadequate to show the same conviction to truth. Though he believed the Book of Mormon is fiction, Ferguson simply found it impossible to let go the social fabric of his Mormon upbringing. He described the Mormon Church as a great fraternity, and a worthwhile organization in its own right. He seemed to find a measure of smugness in knowing that it is all a hoax, but not wanting to spoil the party for all the common people who find Mormonism so important in their lives.
In this regard I find myself completely at odds with Larson's closing comment:
"His [Ferguson's] legacy is a commitment to the search for truth."
No statement could be more inaccurate. In the end, Ferguson showed that his commitment is to fraternity and brotherhood. He saw the truth, but found himself unable to proclaim it. Ferguson is simply another of a long list of men who had the opportunity to speak out and be heard - who could have made a difference by standing up for truth, but decided instead to keep a secret rather than upset his life and disillusion the common folk. For me, Ferguson represents a tragedy.
Clearly written and immaculately referenced, Stan Larson's book is essential for anyone concerned with the reality of whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. It represents the story of one man's search for truth, and tragic failure to embrace it. Perhaps some good can yet come, however, if Larson's book can inspire other's to accept the truth Ferguson discovered, and let commitment to truth overcome commitment to fraternity.
Duwayne Anderson August 25, 1999


The Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism (Essays on Mormonism Series)
The Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism (Essays on Mormonism Series)
von Gene A. Sessions
  Taschenbuch

3.0 von 5 Sternen Should be titled: Mormonism and evolution, 15. Juni 1999
The first thing I would change about this book is its title. It should have been "Essays on Evolution and Mormonism." I wouldn't change the subtitle, though. This book has everything to do with apologetics, and very little to do with the search for truth. There is nothing in the book, for example, about the scientific problems with the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham. Neither is there any discussion about such things as the scientific problems associated with Mormonism's belief in a literal, worldwide flood or the literal tower of Babel.
Since there are so many contributors, it's difficult to assign an overall score to the book. Some of the essays are particularly insightful, don't draw unwarranted conclusions, and provide useful references and historical data. On the other hand, It's pretty hard to take some of the essays seriously. I found the editor's introduction to be among the most interesting parts of the book, with some quotations from Mormon leaders, and statistics I've not seen before. For the most part I found the editors fairly honest in their portrayals, with a notable exception. In the introduction they portray Ezra Taft Benson as being open minded and embracing of science. I find this hard to believe of a man who once said:
"Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book [of Mormon] to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth." (Ezra Taft Benson, "A Witness and a Warning, page 6.]
Another problem I found with the editors, and with almost all the essays in the book, is a pervasive tendency for Mormon apologists to define evolution as something it is not. Instead of using the scientific definition of evolution, they tend to redefine the subject as something they can believe, and then claim (with no explanation) that evolution and Mormonism are compatible. For example, apostle Widtsoe said:
The law of evolution .... Does not require that all things, all life, shall have a common origin. It merely declares that everything in the universe is moving onward." [page xi].
I'm sure this statement will come as a complete surprise to any evolutionary biologist.
Other Mormon apologists define a type of "divine" evolution, in which they allow the evolution of one species into another, but only through the guidance of deity. Both these definitions are without any basis in the scientific theory of evolution, however. Consequently, the "definition thing" becomes a real stumbling block when trying to have a meaningful conversation with Mormon apologists who insist they believe in evolution, only to find that what they really believe is a smattering of real scientific principles that are hopelessly mixed in a morass of mythology.
Not all the essays deal with semantics, double meanings, and denial, however. A number of them are quite informative. Chapter 3, for example, outlines the evolution controversy at Brigham Young University, and the firing of three professors who taught evolution on campus and refused to stop. The chapter is very detailed, with lots of interesting historical highlights, and is well referenced.
Essay 5 raises some interesting ideas I've not seen in the apologetic literature before, but unfortunately the author (Richard Sherlock) did not see fit to carry the discussion through on any of the really interesting concepts. For example, on page 71 he says:
"Furthermore Mormon anthropomorphism made God the prototype of man; Adam was literally his offspring. To think of a being made in the literal image of God as the result of decent from other forms of life was a difficult move indeed."
In fact, the problem goes much deeper than this. According to the theory of evolution, people share a common ancestor with apes. That means Jesus (through is mother, Mary) also has a common evolutionary ancestor with the apes. It seems the vast majority of Mormons, and certainly all Mormon leaders, would reject such a conclusion, yet the author simply drops the discussion at this point, and never picks it back up. Mormonism is quite specific on the origin of humans and their literal image of God. The persistent problem with virtually all Mormon apologetics on the subject of evolution is that it tends to deal with the opinions of the shrinking pool of intellectuals within the Mormon community, while ignoring the opinions and beliefs of common Mormons. Though the book points out that 75% of Salt Lake City Mormons reject evolution, the authors never delve more into that issue, or why Mormons, more than almost any other religion, are so likely to believe in creationism.
Another problem is the persistent reliance upon assertion and opinion. Many of the essayists assert that Mormonism is compatible with evolution, but none of them explain how or why - especially in light of the very strong statements against evolution made by Mormon ecclesiastical leaders when interpreting Mormon scripture. I don't recall a single specific reference to any Mormon scriptures in all the essays I read.
So, this is basically a book written by Mormon apologists, for Mormon apologists who want to remain in the Mormon Church, and need some way out of the conundrum created by the anti-evolutionary rhetoric of Mormon ecclesiastical leaders. If that's you, the book will probably be worth while.
One last thing. The book lacks an index, so make sure to have your yellow marker, red pen, and sticky highlighter ready.


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