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Oliver (Italien)

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Programming The Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos
Programming The Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos
by Seth Lloyd
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotes galore, 26 Sept. 2006
The bad news first: Seth Lloyd (or, my guess, his literary agent Mr Brockman) likes telling anecdotes about all the Nobel laureates and other important people he has met during his career, and he also likes to throw in whimsical asides that are supposed to keep the reader going. And, the really bad news: there's one or two of those on pretty much every single page of the book! If you are not deterred by that and/or able to skip irrelevant waffle, then you'll learn some interesting things about Lloyd's view of the universe, how complexity comes about and why the cosmos is ultimately a huge quantum computer. That 50% of the book is well worth the read.


The Story of God
The Story of God
by Robert Winston
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth it, 10 Jan. 2006
This review is from: The Story of God (Hardcover)
A good place to start if you are interested in the history of religion and especially of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The book is written in a comprehensible fashion, rarely boring and at times even gripping. Unfortunately the style isn't always immaculate, and some more editing certainly would have done no harm (too many repetitions of phrases or entire paragraphs). Also, although by and large the author is careful to explain the most important points at great length, the reader is sometimes left alone when he least expects it (e.g. in the story about the schism between sunni and shi'ite muslims). Nevertheless, a must-read unless you are already well-versed in your own religion and at least one or two others.


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A thinner slice would have done, 23 Aug. 2005
There is no doubt that Gladwell knows a good topic for a book when he sees one. The anecdotes in his lates oeuvre - trigger-happy policemen, food tasters, mind-readers - are all quite amusing and, at times, even captivating. But that's it: they are anecdotes. There is no attempt made to give a bit more of a scientific basis to Gladwells opinions (he keeps saying "There's a lesson to be learned here", but those lessons are entirely based on his "intuition"), and all too often does he repeat the punchlines ad nauseam which, frankly, gets a bit patronizing after about 50 pages. Worse still, there is not an awful lot of coherence between the different chapters, and as one reads on, it becomes quite obvious that Gladwell either ran out of material or else (but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt) he simply doesn't realize that the various phenomena he presents do not have all that much to do with one another.
All in all, I believe that a much thinner slice of the stories would have sufficed here, leaving room for a bit more "meat", i.e. scientific information (if there is any - I'm not an expert in this field). If you are going to buy the book, buy it because you will find the odd story amusing and / or thought-provoking - which, in itself, is already a good thing. But don't expect to find earth-shattering revelations in it. Still, three stars for the fact that I did actually read the book almost in one go - but mainly because I was hoping it would become more substantial towards the end. It didn't.


The Short Day Dying
The Short Day Dying
by Peter Hobbs
Edition: Paperback

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and thought-provoking, 3 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Short Day Dying (Paperback)
Not often does one come across a novel that is original both in content and style. Peter Hobbs' debut novel is one of those rare cases. Hobbs manages to draw the reader into the world of the narrator, Charles Wenmoth, within a couple of pages, and remains faithful to his approach thereafter: Using simple prose interspersed with powerful images and similes, and a rhythm dictated by Wenmoth's thoughts and state of mind. The reader begins to see the world through Wenmoth's eyes and is utterly gripped by his determination and shocked by his occasional lack of sensibility, especially in matters of the heart. Where lesser novels or TV soap operas need explicit action scences or a soppy soundtrack, Hobbs manages to create extreme suspense and atmosphere by slowing down the narrative pace, sometimes almost to a standstill - only to speed it up again by throwing in a one-page chapter or a summarizing paragraph here and there. And always sticking to Arthur Schopenhauer's advice: Use ordinary words to say extraordinary things. Or, sometimes more appropriately in Hobbs' case: Use ordinary words to say ordinary things in an extraordinary way. A thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking book.


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