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review 2018-07-20 08:13
The Portable Cosmos by Alexander Jones
A Portable Cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World - Alexander Jones

TITLE:  The Portable Cosmos:  Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism, Scientific Wonder of the Ancient World

 

AUTHOR:  Alexander Jones

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780199739349

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Book Description:

 

"From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Terracotta Army, ancient artifacts have long fascinated the modern world. However, the importance of some discoveries is not always immediately understood. This was the case in 1901 when sponge divers retrieved a lump of corroded bronze from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. Little did the divers know they had found the oldest known analog computer in the world, an astonishing device that once simulated the motions of the stars and planets as they were understood by ancient Greek astronomers. Its remains now consist of 82 fragments, many of them containing gears and plates engraved with Greek words, that scientists and scholars have pieced back together through painstaking inspection and deduction, aided by radiographic tools and surface imaging. More than a century after its discovery, many of the secrets locked in this mysterious device can now be revealed.

In addition to chronicling the unlikely discovery of the Antikythera Mechanism, author Alexander Jones takes readers through a discussion of how the device worked, how and for what purpose it was created, and why it was on a ship that wrecked off the Greek coast around 60 BC. What the Mechanism has uncovered about Greco-Roman astronomy and scientific technology, and their place in Greek society, is truly amazing. The mechanical know-how that it embodied was more advanced than anything the Greeks were previously thought capable of, but the most recent research has revealed that its displays were designed so that an educated layman could understand the behavior of astronomical phenomena, and how intertwined they were with one's natural and social environment. It was at once a masterpiece of machinery as well as one of the first portable teaching devices. Written by a world-renowned expert on the Mechanism, A Portable Cosmos will fascinate all readers interested in ancient history, archaeology, and the history of science.
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The conglomerate of corroded and broken bronze pieces, eventually known as the  Antikythera Mechanism, were salvaged from a shipwreck in the early 1900s.  Initially, the fragments were studied without any certainty of what they were. By the end of that century it was confirmed that the metal device with its gears and advanced clockwork mecahnism was some kind of analog computer.  It was eventually determined that the mechanism predicted phases of the moon, planetary positions and even eclipses with great precision.

A Portable Cosmos provides a description of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism, an extensive  desciption of the device itself and how it worked, as well as the ancient astronomy behind it.   Jones explores the mystery of the Antikythera mechanism in a no nonsense fashion and includes relevant diagrams and photographs where necessary.  The author does a thorough job of presenting numerous related topics such as the history of astronomy and astrology, calendrics and the mechanics of eclipses, as well as any ancient records of such a mechanism.  Cicero wrote about a planetarium that Archimedes used as a teaching tool, which may have been similar to the Antikythera mechanism.  The book is devided into thematic chapters, so if the technical aspects are too detailed, the reader can skip these chapters without missing out too much.  This book is scholarly and rather technical, but is none the less absorbing and very interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

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photo 2018-05-27 18:42
Understanding Our Cosmos
Understanding Our Cosmos - Bhaktee Kale

Description: This book aims to make an earnest endeavor to reconcile the different aspects and realms of the cosmos. It is a compendium of original philosophical ideas presented in the most practical way. From comprehensively defining God - De-cluttering the disarray that surrounds it to classifying human nature , categorizing instinctual behavior of individuals and elaborating pertinent theories and proposing new ones - this book beautifully touches upon all those aspects with simplicity and clarity. The book also gives ample illustrations to make concepts clear and tangible. Focusing on Morality and virtue, it explains logically as to why that is the best choice there is for individuals - systematically proving the same. It explains righteousness in the light of several theories including the Karma theory.
It also compares and contrasts - logic, instinct and intuition and the validity of each of those under different circumstances. The author also speaks of the importance of progressive thinking and lucidly explains aspects like evolution of the soul.

To quote Socrates - " All right conduct depends on clear knowledge, that not only does the definition of a virtue aids us in acquiring that virtue, but also that the definition of the virtue is the virtue." This book is an attempt at doing just that.

Source: www.amazon.com/dp/B07CVDY388
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review 2018-02-20 02:21
Catching Up?
Cosmos - Carl Sagan,Seth MacFarlane,LeVar Burton,Neil deGrasse Tyson,Ann Druyan

I never watched the series when it was on PBS so when the audiobook was in an Audible sale pile, I snapped it up and now I am finally getting around to listening to it. And I am having trouble with it. LeVar Burton is narrating and his cadence is driving me nuts; it is kind of like a bad Carl Sagan imitation or as one review put it "Jordi LaForge channeling James Kirk." So far, I am committed to finishing it but it will be a few chapters interspersed with other books. Oh, well.

 

Finished it. I would mark it as interesting and informative but dated and preachy in places. Still, based solely on content and ignore the negative effect of the narrator, I'm giving this four stars for what was in it's day ground breaking content. 

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text 2017-11-29 15:22
2018 TBR Continues to Grow
The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World - Randall E. Stross,Grover Gardner
Meditations - Duncan Steen,Marcus Aurelius
Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 5 - Harry Kemelman,George Guidall
The Lighthouse Keeper - Cynthia Ellingsen,Kate Rudd
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Jeff Woodman,Mark Haddon
Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist - Dorothy Gilman,Barbara Rosenblat
Monday the Rabbi Took Off: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 4 - Harry Kemelman,George Guidall
Amadeus - Peter Shaffer,L.A. Theatre Works
Cosmos - Carl Sagan,Seth MacFarlane,LeVar Burton,Neil deGrasse Tyson,Ann Druyan

WOW! I am going to have a lot of fun reading in January and February! Nine books here and a few more that I have already mentioned. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! -- Well, except on the days we are traveling. 

 

 

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review 2017-02-15 15:19
An 11-year-old's insight into his life, the universe and many other things
See You in the Cosmos - Jack Cheng

 

 

This is the story of Alex going to launch his rocket in New Mexico at a rocket festival. With a dead father, uncaring mother and absent brother, he has learnt to deal with life on his own. The book is a journey in which Alex makes new friends and makes discoveries about how people behave.

 

Reasonably entertaining, this fits into this new genre of young adults telling their stories in a “charming” or “heart-warming” manner. It works well and is relatively engaging and well-written.

 

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