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Christian Jongeneel (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

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The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi: The Road to Global Success
The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi: The Road to Global Success
by Wolter Lemstra
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £59.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A firsthand account of WiFi history, 29 Jan. 2011
This book tells the history of WiFi, the wireless technology that has taken the world in the past decade. It covers the humble beginnings as a solution for cash registers in department stores, through a tough standard making negotiation process, to the breakthrough as the technology that freed computers from wires.

The story is told by the people who made this history, so readers can be sure the missed nothing. The research is as thorough as can be. The downside is that the authors, being scientists, have felt that dry facts are far more important than personal anekdotes. For instance, the story of Apple's Steve Jobs deciding to adopt WiFi is delegated to small print, while the observations of Job's behaviour could easily have been the starting point and hightlight of the chapter.

So, it takes some determination to read the book, but the reward is a unique inside look into the birth of wireless technology.


Pythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe
Pythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe
by Kitty Ferguson
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not about the man, but about his legacy, 17 Dec. 2010
This book dedicates only a few pages to Pythagoras, simply because little is known about him. Rather it is about his view on mathematics and doing science, which is still very much alive these days. For instance, Copernicus' conclusion that the earth revolved around the sun rather than the other way around, leans heavily on Pythagorean philosophy.

Kitty Ferguson has a thorough grip on this fascinating theme. This makes for an interesting book, which does require quite some focus from its readers.


Reconnected Live: Experience Edition
Reconnected Live: Experience Edition
Price: £28.34

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 17 Dec. 2010
Yazoo, performing live 25 after Vince and Alison split up, show that their songs are as good as ever, easily dwarfing most of 80's synthpop. This cd is a good reminder of that.

However, where competing grandees like Kraftwerk have reinvented their songs over and over, Yazoo have just tried to recreate them as faithfully as possible. Only on the second cd Vince starts to vary on his melodies.

Perhaps this is inevitable for a reunion cd, but I was left with the feeling that Yazoo could have made a much better album if they had dared to be a bit more adventurous with their proven songs.


On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science
On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science
by David L. Goodstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scientific fraud isn't easy to detect, 29 Jun. 2010
Most books that deal with scientific fraud, concentrate on one or more spectacular cases, often leading to excellent reading. David Goodstein doesn't shun those cases, but his mission is not mainly to entertain while educating in passing. As the man responsible for judging on scientific fraud at Caltech he wants to tell a more nuanced story.

Not all scientific misbehaviour is fraud. There are small misdemeanours, simple errors, enthousiastic researches guilty only of overestimating the importance of their finds, and so on. All of these must be dealt with. As an antidote mr. Goodstein also gives an example of a completely improbable result that happened to be true after all. So, this makes excellent reading for those who are interested in all aspects of scientific misbehaviour, spectacular and less spectacular.


Man's Fate (Penguin Modern Classics)
Man's Fate (Penguin Modern Classics)
by André Malraux
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In life, there are no winners, 23 Jan. 2010
In Shanghai, 1927 Kyoshi Gisors en Ch'en Ta Erh are both in their own way working towards a communist revolution. Kyo is an ideologist and organiser, while Ch'en is a suicide terrorist hoping to inspire others by his own martyrdom.

The first part of the book is the scene of romantic philosophy about the nature of revolution. Only in the second part, as revolution becomes a matter of life and death, the novel acquires the sense of urgency that has made it a classic.

Though it is clear where the author's sympathy lies, he keeps distance to his characters. Even Ferral, the capitalist who is defending his business empire, is a tragic figure who ends up losing. This is man's fate according to Andre Malraux: there are no winners.


Giant Molecules: From nylon to nanotubes
Giant Molecules: From nylon to nanotubes
by W. B. Gratzer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent overview of macromolecules, 23 Jan. 2010
This book does exactly what it promises: telling you everything you want to know about giant molecules. Astonishingly many scientists at first declined to believe in their existence. Nowadays macromolecules, as they are normally known, are considered to be of huge importance. They're plastics, dna and, for instance, resilin, the molecule that makes fleas able to jump incredible distances at even more incredible speed.

Walter Gratzer makes a fine job about summing up what macromolecules there are and how they are related. About half way the book his approach becomes a little chaotic, giving the reader the impression that he has a bundled collection of wikipedia articles in hand. Still, the book is pleasant and interesting enough to read. 'Decent' is the keyword here.


Newton and the Counterfeiter
Newton and the Counterfeiter
by Thomas Levenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.31

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Isaac Newton as a sleuth, 23 Jan. 2010
Highlighting a lesser known episode from Isaac Newton's life this book was bound to be special anyway. Just reading about Newton's overhaul of the British financial is interesting enough. He himself probably thought of catching counterfeiters in the process as an annoying distraction, but this too required some very clever thinking.

Thomas Levenson, who has clearly done some thorough research on London society and politics at the end of the 17th century, chooses to revolve his story around one particular confrontation, Newton versus William Chaloner, a counterfeiter so cunning and daring he even accused Newton of incompetence. Which was not a very smart thing to do, given het effect it had on Newton's determination to bring him to the gallows.

Mr. Levenson deserves credit not only for his meticulous research, but also for the way he presents it. Mixing a matter-of-fact style with literary techniques, he succeeds in sketching a lively picture of both men and their respective businesses. Almost a novel.


Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World (Macmillan Science)
Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World (Macmillan Science)
by Eugenie Samuel Reich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.89

5.0 out of 5 stars A nanotechnological thriller, 1 Dec. 2009
Had Jan Hendrik Schon been a marketeer he would have been among the top guns of his field: he knew exactly what his colleagues in the young science of nanotechnology were looking for. For this reason he succeeded in fooling them all for several years. He fabricated his data, but they showed exactly what others expected to find, and it was only after a silly error that he was eventually exposed.

Eugenie Samuel Reich turns the story of Schon's fraud into a thriller. The more or less cunning fraudster versus a bunch of naive scientists who in the end catch the perpretator. Ms. Reich has spoken to many people, visited the main locations, making her story as lively as it gets in this genre.

She is right to note that the Schon case is not just about a guy who got caught. The important - and worrying - point is that Schon cleverly exploited the day to day routine of science. If it is so easy to get a dozen fake papers published in top scientific magazines, how many lesser hacks are getting away with it?


Uranium Wars: The Scientific Rivalry that Created the Nuclear Age (Macmillan Science)
Uranium Wars: The Scientific Rivalry that Created the Nuclear Age (Macmillan Science)
by Amir D. Aczel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incomplete biography of uranium, 22 Oct. 2009
The creation of the nuclear bomb is the result of scientific rather than military rivalry, seems to be the main message of 'Uranium wars'. Where most books concentrate on either the scientific or the military road to the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Amir Aczel combines them and shows convincingly how scientists were the driving factor behind most of the developments. The rivalry between groups in Europe continued as they were divided over the US and nazi Germany. Mutual distrust lead them to strive for something they knew would be a horrible invention.

Mr. Aczel tells this well known story with a wealth of new details and from an interesting angle. In this, he has done a great job, also by stretching the story beyond the second world war to the cold war. After all, even before the bomb was made, its use in the post-war was already discussed and the motivation for some scientists (many prominent ones regretted afterwards) to keep working on even more deadly weapons came from the same seed that propelled the first steps.

The end of the book is, alas, disappointing. Mr. Aczel sets out with the ambition to show the historical context of current nuclear events, like the issues with Iran and North Korea. He fails, however, to make the connection properly. In a short last chapter, curiously labled 'uranium's future', he deals with nuclear history in the past forty years or so. He touches on many relevant subjects, but does not make clear how for instance the drive of American scientists during WWII should be compared to their Iranian counterparts nowadays. Perhaps such issues, where historical research borders on journalism, warrants a second book.


The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing
The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and diverse collection, 28 Sept. 2009
This collection of popular science writings stands out for diversity. There are, of course, some pieces by Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Richard Feynmann, Oliver Sacks and other scientific cracks who have written for the general audience. The collection suprises most, however, because of its inclusion of less known writers.

I was, for instance, suprised to find an excerpt from 'The periodic table' by Italian writer and chemist Primo Levi, because this is a novel about the holocaust and its aftermath. And I was delighted so much space was given to Peter Medawar, a master of scientific irony who tends to be forgotten nowadays.

This is not the kind of book you read cover to cover in one go. It's one to browse in, chew on and think about, article by article.


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