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Roger (Bedfordshire, UK)

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ISS Detector Pro
ISS Detector Pro
Price: £1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't work on a Nexus 7, 18 Aug 2013
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This review is from: ISS Detector Pro (App)
Like others, reporting on different platforms, I've not been able to get this to work. It claims there is a bad connection stopping it from downloading data but, if there is, it's not at my end.


RepliGo PDF Reader
RepliGo PDF Reader

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of software, 4 Aug 2013
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This review is from: RepliGo PDF Reader (App)
This is the best app I've come across for searching and annotating PDF files. It's very flexible in what it can do.


Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Price: £4.12

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book providing some insight into the world of mathematics, 27 July 2013
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I had expected this to be a book outlining some of the advanced theories and formulae of mathematics. On the contrary, it was largely concerned with rather fundamental aspects of maths, such as what is meant by numbers, the concept of infinity, how to handle multiple dimensions, geometry, etc. I found this unexpected approach to be quite refreshing and informative. It gave me a feel for how mathematicians think, and how they approach problems. Of particular interest were explanations on how mathematicians set about proving a theory, such as a confirming that the square root of two is an irrational number. Mathematicians take nothing for granted, and everything has to be proved, step by step, all the way back to first principles. Some insight was also provided on solutions that mathematicians regard as being elegant, or even beautiful, these being seen as a cut above more "ugly" proofs.

Admittedly, significant chunks of the book were beyond me and I was unable to follow the reasoning used, such as was the case with much of the chapter on geometry. Nevertheless, it has to be said that no advanced maths were needed to understand these sections but what would have come in handy was to have read the book with a pen and pad of paper at my side so that I could have jotted some points down to help reinforce the arguments being presented. In mitigation, I should point out that I read the Kindle version and flipping from one page to another, which was essential for following some points, is not so easy on a Kindle as with a conventional book. All the same, it is certainly a book that requires effort on the part of the reader to fully digest its contents.

Other than school text books, this is the first book I've read on maths. Whilst I found it interesting, I don't feel driven to read any further books on this subject. So it could be said that the book has failed spark a desire to find out more which should be the hallmark of an outstanding book.


Einstein: His Life and Universe
Einstein: His Life and Universe
Price: £4.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-sourced and authoritative biography of Einstein, 13 July 2013
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This proved to be an interesting and very complete biography of Einstein, with sources listed for all key facts. Perhaps it was a trifle too long in parts, resulting in me skimming some sections, but it provides a remarkable insight into the life and the times of this great physicist. Whilst I had prior knowledge of Einstein's scientific work, I had not appreciated other aspects of his life, including his troubled relationships with his first wife and his children from that marriage, nor had I understood the extent of the anti-semitism to which he had been subjected, nor his celebrity status, whereby the press hung on to his every word. As well as detailing Einstein's life, Walter Isaacson also does a sound job of explaining, in simplified terms, the background to much of Einstein's scientific endeavours, including quantum physics, relativity, and his unsuccessful search for a unified field theory to unite gravitation with electromagnetism. I learned a lot about Einstein from this book and Isaacson brought him alive in terms of his personality.


What You Should Know About Physics
What You Should Know About Physics
Price: £3.20

4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to modern physics, 13 July 2013
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This short volume has big ambitions and largely succeeds in delivering. John Wherry seeks to provide an overview, in short sections, of the present state of knowledge of key areas of physics, including particles, forces, classical mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics and cosmology, finishing with "the theory of everything". It's a little difficult to know who the book is targeted at but it is certainly suitable for scientists who are not physicists. It could also serve as a useful check-list for budding physicists of the key areas that are likely to be included in the curriculum of a degree course.

No knowledge of advanced maths is needed to understand the contents and the book contains a lot of illustrations which serve to emphasise the points being made. Not surprisingly, most topics are only very briefly covered and consequently some sections I found to be too short and therefore difficult to understand. Nevertheless, these still served as a springboard from which I could seek more information elsewhere if I so wished.

Overall, the book adequately meets its objective of outlining to the reader what they need to know about physics and perhaps wetting their appetite to explore some areas in more detail. It is an enjoyable and informative read.


Quantum: A Guide For The Perplexed
Quantum: A Guide For The Perplexed
Price: £4.72

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, non-mathematical introduction to quantum mechanics, 1 July 2013
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I'd studied quantum mechanics at university nearly 50 years ago so I had a good idea what to expect in terms of the unexpected but Jim Al-Khalili made a better fist of explaining the subject than my chemistry lecturers had done all those years ago - and without delving into advanced maths. This is the third or fourth popular science book on quantum mechanics that I've read in recent months and it is by far the best. Jim has done an excellent job of explaining the principles of this complex field and approaches the subject in quite a light hearted way with little injections of humour here and there which make the subject matter feel less remote and the author more human. It is also reassuring that he states several times that no-one really understands what is going on at the quantum level, beyond, that is, what is mathematically calculated or experimentally observed, because it is so divorced from what we experience in the macro world, with most of it being counter-intuitive and bordering on the metaphysical. This repeated reassurance at least means that readers realise they are not alone in puzzling over the deeper significance of quantum physics.

The last couple of chapters tried to cover too much ground, in my view, and consequently were less understandable than what had gone before. Many of the points discussed were extremely speculative. Also, when discussing some aspects of molecular biology, Jim seemed to draw a distinction between what he would call a "quantum effect" and what I would refer to as "ordinary chemistry". All of chemistry is underpinned by quantum mechanics so this distinction appears out of place.

Some parts I couldn't follow, such as the descriptions of superstring theory and M-theory, but I suspect that this is because these topics do require a mathematical approach which is outside the scope of the book. Also, most of the chapters end with a short discourse by a guest author and I found these to be hit and miss, depending, I suppose, on how good each author is in explaining the subject matter to non-physicists. I'm not convinced these sequels added much to the book and it might have been better to have omitted them.

But, overall, this is an excellent book, providing a first-rate, non-mathematical introduction to the quantum world.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2014 3:13 AM BST


The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance
The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance

5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging style of writing, with a fascinating story to tell, 10 Jun 2013
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I found this to be an enjoyable book, written in an engaging style which draws the reader into each chapter. The book contains a lot of information, some quite detailed. Although I'm a scientist by profession, this was a new area for me and reading this work has taught me a lot about epigenetics and its importance in the functioning of life. Much of the material was very thought provoking and eye-opening.

Each chapter covers a different area of epigenetics and starts off with a simple introduction to the theme before progressing to more complex ideas, usually by incorporating the results from research. In some chapters, I got lost in the later parts, largely I think because of the preponderance of abbreviations and acronyms that the author has to use. But in every chapter, without exception, I found it easy to understand the gist of what was being covered. And it is the gist that is likely to stick in my mind in the years to come, whereas the minutiae of which gene is repressed by what particular mechanism will be quickly forgotten but without much consequence.


Akinator the Genie
Akinator the Genie
Price: £1.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, 5 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Akinator the Genie (App)
It seems to have an enormous database of names and pictures. A great app that can keep you very amused.


The Music of Life: Biology beyond genes
The Music of Life: Biology beyond genes
Price: £7.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Very slow moving, 25 May 2013
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I was a little disappointed with this book. It contains some good and thought provoking information on systems biology and on the expression and regulation of genes, but I found it rather slow moving and laboured. In my opinion, the author placed too much emphasis on using metaphors to explain the points he was trying to make (which, in fairness, he stated was his intent). I often found these confusing and I would rather have just had a presentation of his understanding of the mechanisms at play within a organism rather than discussions about, for example, what an alien would make of it all or how it was analogous to something in the world of music. Whilst I thought he over-explained some of the biological issues, when it came to other areas, which were more philosophical, he used specialist terms without any explanation of their meaning. Denis Noble is a philosopher as well being a notable biologist and this no doubt accounts for the philosophical approach taken to the subject, especially in the latter chapters. Notwithstanding these points, the book has stirred my curiosity to read more in the area of epigenetics. However, I felt that Prof Noble's book was more suited to those of a philosophical bent than those with backgrounds in the fields of biology and molecular biology.


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