Recent Books: Micro Reviews


The Little Book of Cosmology by Lyman Page

A very short, cheap, book on Cosmology.  All the big ideas and none of the big equations.  I thought it was quite good for what it was.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo

by Sean B. Carroll 

Evo-Devo, the science of evolutionary development is a third piece of the evolutionary picture, deserving of equal footing with Darwin, and the modern synthesis with genetics and DNA.  Evo Devo is mostly the story of the master patterning genes that lay out the structure and future development of an organism from its earliest embryological beginnings.  Those genes, the homeobox genes, are extraordinarily conserved to the extent that the same ones that dictate where an arthropod develops the last segments of its legs are involved in wing development in bat and fingers in man. These deep connections were almost totally unsuspected by the authors of the Modern Synthesis.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need Kindle Edition

by Bill Gates 

I have reviewed this below, but Gates presents a detailed look at the challenges, opportunities and costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.  Nothing less, he argues, will stop an ultimate climate disaster.  This is not a book on climate science, it is a book on actions.

Skeleton Man (A Leaphorn and Chee Novel Book 17)

Book 17 of 24: A Leaphorn and Chee Novel  | by Tony Hillerman 

An old plane crash, a missing arm, an attached attaché case full of diamonds, some ruthless criminals, and a swindled heiress bent on revenge are the plot ingredients bringing Navajo policeman Jim Chee and friends off the Big Res and into the Grand Canyon.  Big scenery and traditional customs form the backdrop.

Planetary Climates (Princeton Primers in Climate Book 9)

I have read several of the Princeton Primers in Climate, and I'm a fan.  Ingersoll's book is about the atmosphere's of the planets and moons of our solar system, excluding Earth.  I like his factual and descriptive accounts.

The writer of a semi-technical book has a choice:  be purely descriptive or try to present the technical stuff too.  In planetary climates, the technical stuff consists mostly of radiative transfer and atmospheric dynamics.  More technical works usually put two or three technical chapters up front.  Prof. Ingersoll chose to present it numerous boxes, which I found confusing, scattershot, and unsystematic.  Throwing a bunch of equations out with little discussion of their origins or limitations does not look like good pedagogy to me.

Overall, I would give the book a B, A for the descriptive material, C for the technical. 



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