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Category Archives: Book Reviews

Brian Greene : The Hidden Reality

This is the follow up to Brians earlier book The Fabric of the Cosmos that I reviewed here previously. This book continues with an overview as to where the world of physics thinks the nature of reality lies. The subtitle “Parallel Universes and the deep laws of the Cosmos” give us a clue as to what that direction is.

As before, the book is written in a style that some may find challenging however, at around 300 odd pages, I got through this one substantially quicker than the previous book.

The theories are developed as they appeared chronologically over the last three decades, however, it is shown frequently that ideas that underpinned their creation were usually developed in earlier times and because there wasn’t the technology or means by which to quantify these proposals, they were usually largely ignored by the scientific communities of their days.

On a personal level, I took much heart from that disclosure, the fact that these people chose to create these frameworks against the mainstream accepted norm and were either villified or discounted must have taken a personal toll on some. However science prefers to quantify and qualify it’s data, it’s consistently shown that it took an instinctive leap of faith from some quarters to move science on, demonstrating that external movement is usually generated from an unsubstantiated internal generating mechanism.

The book shows how the string theory built on in the earlier book has provided new models of viewing the reality of the universe and cosmos. And the surprising growing consensus is that for the maths and the models to work, the idea of parallel or multiverse theories are central to the theories workings.

By the end of the book, the author summerises the nine different multiverse theories built up throughout, a couple of which are entirely theoretical, a couple are based on mathmatics as the central premise and the rest, showing some form of concurring experimental data.

It is explained that most of these theories exibit some form of agreement with previous scientific principles, general relativity, quantum mechanics and even Newtonian principles, but you come away with the impression that none of the theories are yet robust enough to be entirely quantified yet by science and some, by their very nature, can probably never be with the restrictions of our own senses and technology at this time. To the authors credit however, he does show how that very fact should not discredit them because of our limited perceptions at this time, demonstrating to me, a very pragmatic approach informed by these earlier disclosures of how earlier theories held some basis in fact.

On a personal level, it was the disclosure and correlating data suggesting that our own existence may very well be multilayered in a multilayered universe, that has strengthened at this time, my own private convictions that our perceived isolation is entirely at odds with the actual reality of our cosmos.

 

Recommended.

 

Brain Greene : The Hidden Reality. Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. ISBN  978-0-141-02981-8

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

Brunanburgh by David Anson

ISBN: 978-1-4520-5444-5

I was fortunate enough to meet the author of the above book at the recent TDN conference in the West Midlands at the end of November 2010 and he generously gave me a copy of his work. Unfortunately and probably much the same as most people at this time, my time has been severely restricted over the last few months which meant I did not have much opportunity to read it.  However, I set aside time this weekend and I have now read the book.

The first thing to note is that the author is not a full time author but has various other interests which are listed on the site he has created for the sale and publicity of his book.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and the author has obviously done much research into the subject matter. I must confess here and now that I was unaware of both the evidence and circumstances of this battle and it’s far reaching consequences of placing Athelstan as a unifying ruler before the Normans, even for such a limited time span. There are things I think may have enhanced the book, for example, the likes of Bernard Cornwell and Caiseal Mor tend to use the place names and the specific language of the times  they are writing about and as such, present an appendix before the start to explain what these are. I found the use of modern shire names therefore, to distract a little from the atmosphere of the book, but this is a personal thing here, as I find if I have to work around the language used from those times, it actually helps set the scene better in my mind. I can though, understand why the author has chosen to use the modern names, probably so as to appeal to the widest span of the general public, so my comments are entirely of a  personal statement and should not distract from the book itself.

My only other slightly negative comment would be the main battle scenes appeared a little disjointed for me, they didn’t flow as well as some written by more accomplished authors, however, saying that, these battles could hardly have been a smooth and continuous affair so therefore, the style would be entirely in keeping with the “reality” of these actions.

Coming from the immediate area this book is primarily set in, it is obvious to me that the author has spent a great deal of time and effort researching the subject matter. For that he is to be applauded and although the book is not written by an “accomplished” author as such, what it may lack in polish, it makes up for in logical sequencing. Therefore I have no reservation in recommending this book to anyone. The fact that it is a result of an amateur investigation, to my eyes, does not detract from it and I applaud the effort and time taken to complete this project.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

The Celts – History and Civilization

This is the title of a book I recently brought from this establishment at this astounding price. The author is/was? the director of the centre for Celtic studies in Paris and has directed numerous international archaeological excavations, also writing over 200 scientific articles on historical subjects, with an emphasis on the Celtic Iron age.

The book itself is slightly larger than A4 in size and around 240 pages, all of them displaying either artifacts or scenaries from the described areas of Celtic history. Now, for £3.99, this book could be 50 pages long and if the material was sufficient in quality, that would represent good value for money. This is not the case though for this book. This is 240 pages of high quality images and high quality writing. The author being both located and working in mainland Europe, approaches the subject from a mainland European perspective. To his credit though, he does not neglect the influence and evidence from the British Isles and Ireland. The photos alone if removed from the book, would represent excellent value for money at this discounted price, but along with the high quality writing, this is, quite simply one of the best bargains of a book that I have been fortunate to have come across in the last 10 years. My only slight criticism would be that the text is split by descriptions of the corresponding pictures, some of which can be quite lengthy texts which tend to lead, for someone of my advancing years, to the situation of having lost the plot of what was being disclosed previously. That though, is probably more of an indication of my current state than that of the book. Highly recommended, especially at this price!

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

The Fabric of the Cosmos (Book review)

This is an extremely in depth review of the history of, and the continuing research into, the nature of the universe from the perspective of physics. The edition I read was printed in 2005 and I intend to follow up the ongoing research mentioned in the book to bring me up to date.

I would suggest that the author assumed his potential readers possessed some prior physics knowledge as some of his material makes some connections that, for someone like me who hasn’t particularly studied the field for some time, are not immediately obvious.

The beginning of the book goes into the theories of, and the circumstances surrounding, the field of classiclal physics (Newton et al) through Einstein and onto quantum mechanics. The clash between general relativity and quantum mechanics is studied in some depth demonstrating the conflicts in reconciling the macro and micro environments.

The resulting history of string theory is then delved into as a consequence of some of this conflict. It becomes obvious that the author is a proponent of string theory, though to his credit, he does explain and acknowledge other ideas as well.

For me though, the real interesting sections are towards the end, with the realization of the physics community that the nature of the universe may have some basis in an illusionary context and this was brought home by some of the newer ideas, such as M-theory and I found a particular empathy with cyclical cosmology and the brane world cosmology. As a physicist, the author steers well clear of any theological interpretations, which one would expect, but I have to confess that it has sparked many connections that I will be exploring in some depth in the coming months.

It would appear that the author received some critical acclaim for this book, and the depth of the subject matter he displays is, indeed, very impressive. I do have to say though, that this book may represent hard work for the general reader, for whom physics may represent nothing but a passing interest. It would represent, and indeed I intend to use this, as a quality reference source, though I have to admit,  at 500 pages, this made a very challenging book to complete.

Recommended, with these stated reservations.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

Stonehenge by Rosemary Hill

I have recently read this book in an attempt to better my limited understanding of this site. The author has written this with an objective to better demonstrate the viewpoints and motivations behind the various historical individuals and groups who have made contributions into the continuing efforts to better understand Stonehenge’s enigmatic history. Much in the style of Ronald Hutton, she presents the documented facts with as much clarity as possible, but unlike Hutton, refrains from personal comments, preferring to present the possible / probable motivations and consequences for others to form their own idea’s. For this, in my opinion, she should be applauded and she only makes any sort of conclusion at the end of the book, with a keenly observed hypothesis about the relationship between the Durrington Walls and Stonehenge, that to me, is entirely convincing.

At just over 200 pages long, this was a hugely enjoyable read and much like Hutton’s recent book on the Druids, brings reality back into the considerations of this aging reader. Highly recommended.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Book Reviews