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The Further Inventions of Daedalus [Paperback]

David E. H. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sep 1999
A compilation and embellishment of about 100 selected "Daedalus" schemes, which first appeared in "New Scientist" in the mid-sixties and transferred to Nature in the eighties. The "Daedalus" pieces harness accepted scientific principles in pursuit of apparently fantastic technical goals. While these flights of fancy are entertaining they have a serious purpose, raising questions in the reader's mind. This collection comprises the selected original article together with a "From Daedalus's Notebook" piece, written especially for the book, buttressing the proposal with background material, data, calculations, references, and so on, and a cartoon illustration.


Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198504691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198504696
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 19.9 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 896,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Dr David Jones has been writing the weekly 'Daedalus' column since the mid-sixties, first for New Scientist and now, for the last 10 years, for Nature. He is an independent science consultant to industry and the media, providing-among other things-ideas, brainstorming services, and scientific demonstrations for television. In his spare time, when he has any, he conducts research into physical chemistry as a guest member of the staff at the University of Newcastle
upon Tyne.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
David Jones' columns ( I know them from "Nature", but they have been published elsewhere as well) on the fictional inventor "Daedalus" and his DREADCO are brilliant, hilarious and often legitimately prophetic. Besides representing a uniquely fanciful posistion on invention, Jones manages to be that rarity in today's society: a true scientific generalist. (Of course it helps that his work is not much scrutinized by the pre-publication boards of the technical journals. ) In this compilation he includes some of Daedalus' working "notes" on the inventions and various post-publication sequelae on the real-world possibilities suggested by his protagonist's impossible work.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination soaring in scientific blue skies 11 July 2000
By Julian P Killingley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a delight it is to find that David Jones has compiled another compendium of the plausible schemes of Daedalus. Anyone with the slightest interest in science will find hours of pleasure randomly dipping into this collection of Daedalus's musings culled from New Scientist, The Guardian and Nature over the last 30 years.
The breadth of David Jones's learning is astonishing - no scientific discipline is immune from the attentions of Daedalus and his team of DREADCO scientists. Reading this book constantly left me veering between wondering whether Daedalus really was revealing a glimpse of future technology and hugging myself with glee and shaking with laughter at some of the possible consequences foretold.
Jones reminds us that Daedalus is not to be mocked unthinkingly - his prediction of the existence of Buckminsterfullerene is a debt acknowledged by the Nobel laureates themselves. In this book you can read more about Daedalus's predictions of carbon nanotubes and their desirable properties.
The book follows a format where, typically, a plausible scheme is sketched out. Jones then provides us with an extract from Daedalus's notebook that gives the back-of-a-beermat calculations on which the scheme is based. He concludes with a Daedalus retrospective comment on the scheme.
Daedalus clearly has a life of his own and his schemes attract serious scientific critique - indeed, we are told how assessment of the feasibility of proposed schemes has been built into at least one university course. He is happy to point out to us when he has fallen into serious error - as, for example, he did when proposing generation of Gigawatt scale electrical energy by piezoelectric effects in the earth's crust caused by tidal distortion.
The book holds far too many surprises to mention - indeed, to do so is to spoil the reader's pleasure. My personal favorite is his prediction of the potential fire hazard lurking in the depths of the ocean below 1500 meters. It's a really great read - and one you will return to again and again.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science doesn't get more entertaining than this 24 July 2000
By Mike Christie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Under the pseudonym of Daedalus, David Jones has been writing for Nature and New Scientist for thirty-odd years; this is the second collection. The hundred short essays here are a hard-to-describe cross between humour and serious scientific speculation. The humour is actually in the science itself, which sounds hard to believe until you read it.
For example, Daedalus comes up with a scheme to generate electricity from the Rockies, not by hydro-electricity, which lets the descent of water generate power, but by the descent of the mountains themselves. After all, he points out, there is an enormous amount of energy locked up in all that high-altitude rock. His scheme for "geo-electric power" solves far more of the difficulties in this plan than you might think, though (in this case) not all of them. The plausibility is itself the joke--it's not so much that the scientific reader likes trying to spot the error, though that *is* fun to try to do; Daedalus just presents these outrageous ideas completely deadpan, and with a great deal of supporting evidence.
In fact, there is no flaw at all in many of his schemes. A column of his, collected in the earlier "Inventions of Daedalus", is actually cited by the inventors of buckminsterfullerene as an early paper talking about the possibilities for hollow carbon molecules, and several other articles have been either prescient or have turned out to track current research. But the book is not just for scientists and engineers--anyone with a lay interest in science will love it.
I recommend leaving it in the bathroom; each essay is a couple of pages--just right. It'll keep you entertained for months.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking Intellect Meets Astounding Creativity 23 Jun 2002
By Timothy Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book features diverse tongue-in-cheek inventions, all of which were cooked up in the mind of the author. While the majority of the inventions are (and were intended to be) impracticable, each one sets the mind spinning in a deliciously enjoyable way.
Every section is only a couple of pages long, but this is not a book that one should race through. Each article contains ideas to be savoured.
If these were only off-the-cuff ideas, this book wouldn't be so impressive. What really makes the difference is that the author backs up his ideas with hard science. (People who are afraid of a few formulae in a book should probably look elsewhere.) This challenges the reader to figure out WHY a particular invention is not likely to reach the market!
I don't want to over-state the difficulty of the material -- you don't have to be a scientist. In fact, you can skip over the formulae without missing the point.
Each article features an appendix that did not appear when it was published in the original magazine. This helps us see the problems inherent in each invention. In a few cases, though, Jones's proposals have actually borne fruit! Apparently there is indeed much truth in jest.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brainstorming at its finest 12 July 2001
By Eric Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great collection of brainstormed ideas written as jokes for a column in New Scientist, some possibly practical, some wonderfully absurd. For example, in the original "The Inventions of Daedalus" (now out of print), he independently invents stereolithography in one column; in another he tries to determine the mass of the soul.
3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection 29 May 2000
By Dmitriy Kedrin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Daedalus was a lot of fun while reading Nature, but this book just makes him even better. Not only you familiarize yourself with the devotion to weirdness (fortunately for us, with a scientific basis). Most of the things in the book make a lot of sense, and are really funny.
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