13 May 2010

Two Excellent Books- Astrophysics and Climate Change

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Ok, I know I shot myself in the foot with that title.

Geek books! Run!

Well, this post is for my steady readers then 😉

I’m finishing two of the best popular science (aka science for the masses) books I have read in quite awhile. I actually love reading these type of books, because a really good expert can make me understand something you already know in a much better way. Both of these books have done that and more.

The first one is by Dr. James Hansen. The title is “Storms Of My Grandchildren

In case you do not know, he is the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. NASA GISS is where NASA put the scientists who are too smart for NASA. That’s saying something.

It was James Hansen who told the world in the late 1980’s that climate change would overcome the natural day to day, and month to month fluctuations of our atmosphere,  and become very noticeable by the early 21st century.

He was dead on.

His book is a mix of very well explained climate science and the insider view of dealing with politicians from both sides of the political spectrum. The science interests me much more than the politics, but I am sure many others will feel just the opposite.

I always enjoy reading Hansen’s published papers. He has a distinctive down home style that one does not often see in the peer reviewed literature. Many papers are written such that only those who are working on a particular specific problem can casually read. Not Hansen’s. Anyone with a background in the field can see what he is getting at right away. I guess I’m saying that he doesn’t write between the lines!

It’s available for Kindle and iPad as well.

The other book is by my new favorite living Physicist. Brian Cox of the UK. I wrote a post about his fabulous series on the BBC last month called “Wonders of the Solar System“. It was, in my humble opinion, the first show on science that has  surpassed Car Sagan’s COSMOS.

His book is WHY E=M C (Square).

If you think relativity is to complex to understand, then try this book. Nothing more difficult than 8th grade algebra.



Here is a little teaser.

Let’s say you left Earth in a spacecraft and accelerated constantly at one g (One g is the gravity you feel on Earth) for ten years then turned around and decelerated at one g for ten years, and then came home to Earth the same way.  How long would you be gone?

40 years right??

To you yes.

When you got back to Earth it would be 59,000 years later here.

Humans one day WILL travel to the future. There is just no going back!

Brian Cox covers everything from Relativity to Feynman diagrams. If you couldn’t get through Stephen Hawking’s Brief History Of Time, then you should really try this. (I know physicists who could not get through Hawking’s book!)

You can read this book on your iPhone/iPad or Kindle too.